This series will look at prospects and show whether they are worth an investment on your fantasy team. Every owner knows that the secret to a strong minors system is knowing who to throw away and knowing who to keep. Each player featured in this series will be given one of the following recommendations:
- Hold ’em : If you own this prospect, hang tight. While times may seem rough, the talent is worth holding onto.
- Fold ’em : If you own this prospect, now is the time to sell while they may still have some name value.
- Walk Away: This prospect is not worth paying attention to in your league.
- Run: Get to the waiver wire immediately and put a claim in for this prospect.
Let’s take a look at Phillie 3B prospect Maikel Franco who was assigned to AAA Leigh Valley after batting just .184 in spring training with no extra base hits.
Maikel Franco was signed by the Philles in 2010 as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He played 51 games that year in rookie ball hitting 2 home runs before his 18th birthday. In 2011 he spent the majority of the season in low A before hitting single A to end the year.
In 2012, Franco played in A ball as a 19-year-old for most of the season, finally showing up on some Phillies Top Prospect lists. His huge power potential still hadn’t shown up in games but there was a glimpse of a breakthrough coming. After a poor start to the season, Franco hit to the tune of .346/.395/.530 in the second half.
In 2013, Franco really put it all together, showing his plus power and making good contact despite his long swing. There were only three other players to hit 30 HR/100 RBI in the minors last year: Javier Baez, George Springer and Miguel Sano.
While there was an outside chance of him making the Phillies out of spring training, the most likely scenario had him starting 2014 in AAA. There were some positives to take out of spring; he impressed Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa with his work ethic, power, defense and ability to hit to all fields. The results weren’t great and Franco was indeed sent to AAA.
Heading into 2014 it was announced that Franco would spend some time at 1B to increase his versatility. This would obviously hurt his fantasy value, though he has the power that would play there. Franco was ranked #52 in my Top 100 Prospect list and also #52 by Baseball Prospectus.
Playing for the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Franco is struggling to hit anything out of the infield :
He’s played four games at third base and last night played his first game at first base.
Maikel Franco has excellent home run power but his aggressive swing would very likely be exposed at the major league level right now. Cody Asche and Ryan Howard are his current road blocks, with both having as many questions as Franco does. What Franco has is excellent right-handed hitting power. His ability to make contact will be the key as far as whether his power plays in the major leagues. There is 35 home run power here if he can make consistent contact. There are questions to whether he can stick at 3B; his arm is excellent but his range is just average.
Recommendation: Hold ‘Em. The poor spring results as well as the rough start to AAA may be discouraging to some fantasy owners. Franco has plus (plus) power, but needs the hit tool to improve. With only Asche and a failing Howard ahead of him, Franco will have plenty of opportunities to be a major part of the Phillies future. If he can make the necessary adjustments, that opportunity may yet come in 2014.
Other Prospect Notes:
Henry Owens, LHP, BOS. Owens pitched a 6 inning no-hitter for AA Portland last week striking out nine batters along the way. The 21-year-old pitcher had 6 starts in AA last year with a 1.78 ERA and 13.65K/9IP. Owens is throwing his hat into the ring among the best left-handed pitching prospects in the game. Prospect Ranking in 2014: 54. Recommendation: Run.
Brian Goodwin, OF, WAS. 23-year-old Goodwin has started his AAA season going 1-9 with 6K. While I’m not sure he does anything well enough to be more than an average big league outfielder, he does just enough of everything to keep me interested. It’s a big season for Goodwin; he either does well at AAA and fulfills some of his promise or he may find himself as a 4th outfielder hitting against RHPs.Prospect Ranking in 2014: 70. Recommendation: Hold ‘Em.
Raimel Tapia, OF, COL. Small sample notwithstanding, Tapia is hitting .375 in his first 4 games in A ball. In 2013 in rookie ball Tapia hit .357 showing gap power, very good speed and excellent contact skills. He’s an exciting young prospect whose stock is going to sky-rocket in 2014. Prospect Ranking in 2014: 79. Recommendation: Run.
Billy Burns, OF, OAK. Burns set the world and the base paths on fire in Spring Training with 10 stolen bases, a .306 AVG and a .370 OBP. In 2013, Burns stole 74 bases with a .423 OBP and an excellent strike out rate of 12%. At 24 years old there’s still some projection for gap power but what he is is a speed machine. With Billy Hamilton souring owners (for now) take a chance on the another speedster who should put up a good average. Prospect Ranking in 2014: NR . Recommendation: Run.(that’s what he’ll be doing)
If you have any players you would like to see featured in future posts, feel free to mention in the comments.
If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.