Maikel Franco Giving Phillies Fans a Reason for Hope
While he is hitting just .241, he is showing power and production in key spots, something ESPN.com senior baseball writer Jayson Stark says should be expected.
"He's going to be a work in progress," Stark acknowledged. "But if you watch him, it's obvious he's raw in a lot of ways but the skills are the real deal, the tools are the real deal, and that's the fun part of it, when you see the bat speed, when you see him hit a home run off Aroldis Chapman, when you see him hit a baseball where he hit one on Tuesday night, no Phillie has ever hit a ball in that spot, that's just pure bat speed."
Franco hit a 418-foot two-run home run, helping the Phillies rally late to overcome the Reds on Tuesday then followed that up with a game-tying three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, helping the Phillies eventually win in 11 innings on Wednesday against the Reds.
However prior to hitting majestic home runs, Franco was struggling, going 0-for-11 in the series against the Rockies and has registering only two hits -- both singles -- in 28 plate appearances since May 24.
"There's gonna be some ups, there's gonna be some downs, but its something to watch, if you're gonna take a ride on Maikel Franco's jetliner, it's gonna be a fun ride."
While watching Franco gives Phillies fans right now some reason for hope, he is really the only young player worth watching - and that's one of the major issues with this team.
"Once you get past Franco who are you talking about?" Stark asked.
Another quality about Franco is his confidence, he wants the big spot - columnist Jack McCaffrey of the Delco Times says that is something this team has been lacking for the past few years.
As McCaffery explained after talking to Franco, he is a guy who wants the big spot, saying Franco told him that he performed in big spots in the winter leagues, the minor leagues, telling McCaffery that when it comes to big spots late in games, i'm going to concentrate more.
"Just the fact that he thinks and expects to perform in a big play situation, to me thats something the Phillies have lacked for years," McCaffery explained on the Sports Bash.
This team has the loser mentality, the loser gene, a loser expectation, McCaffery told me on the Sports Bash.
"They find a way to lose," McCaffery said. "But Franco doesn't play by that rule apparently. He expects to win."
McCaffery asked Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg if he agreed with that assessment and the manager agreed, saying "he's one of those players." What convinced McCaffery was Franco's approach to the topic, the manager and the results of the two previous games where he supplied clutch home runs.