A Season of Frustration Continues for Maikel Franco and the Phillies

A Season of Frustration Continues for Maikel Franco and the Phillies
While the starting pitching struggles and the inconsistency of the injury-plagued bullpen have been a big part of the Phillies disappointing season so far, the lack of a potent offense has also been a major storyline.
 
There are many players offensive performing below expectations, so it’s tough to single out just one person.
 
One of those struggling has been third baseman Maikel Franco. On Sunday his season hit a new low when the Phillies optioned Franco to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and reinstated infielder brad Miller from the 10-day injury list.
 
It wasn’t that long ago that Franco was considered the possible future face of the franchise.
 
He was signed as an international free agent in 2010 for $100,000 out of the Dominican Republic and worked his way up the lower legs of the minor leagues.
 
He began showing true power in 2013 when he hit a combined 31 home runs at high Single-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. In 2014 he had 33 doubles, 16 home runs and 78 RBI at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
 
Franco then was a September call-up to the Phillies and batted .179 in 16 games.
 
He began 2015 at Lehigh Valley but after hitting .355 in 33 games, was called up to the Phillies and enjoyed a strong rookie year, batting .280 with 14 home runs, 50 RBI, an .840 OPS in 304 at-bats.
 
At this point he was looked on as one of the players the Phillies would build around. In addition, he often made spectacular plays at third base and showcased a powerful arm.
 
In 2016, Franco had a solid season, batting .255 with 25 home runs and 88 RBI
 
Yet from there, he never took that next step. In 2017 he hit .230 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI and in 2018 he batted .270 with 22 home runs and 68 RBI in 433 at-bats.
 
He endured time of the bench last year as he has this season. Franco is batting .231 with 15 home runs and 47 RBI, while hitting near the bottom of the order.
 
In an era where players are striking out in record numbers, Franco has only exceeded 100 strikeouts once and that was 106 in 2016.
 
Scott Kingery, whose best position is second base, will now be the third baseman. Last week’s trade deadline acquisition, Corey Dickerson from Pittsburgh, will likely play a lot in left field.
 
Kingery won’t have as much time in the outfield if Dickerson is in left, Bryce Harper in right and Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn in center.
 
On the day Franco was sent down, Kingery started at third, Dickerson was in left, Haper in right and Quinn in center.
 
This is tough pill to swallow not only for Franco, but the Phillies. They are paying him $5.2 million this season according to spotrac.com. Franco has two years of arbitration remaining and it’s likely the Phillies won’t extend him arbitration and declare him a free agent.
 
He is still a relatively young player who won’t turn 27 until later this month. Franco may be the perfect person for change of scenery. It seems unless something drastic happens that his long-term future won’t be in Philadelphia.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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