The Phillies need some offensive help. They are last in the Major Leagues with a .621 OPS. The 19 home runs the team has hit is only four more than Mariners right fielder Nelson Cruz. Philadelphia's roster also needs an infusion of youth, with an average age just north of 29 years old.
Enter Maikel Franco, who received a highly anticipated callup on Friday. The 22-year-old should be starting at third base on Friday -- and for the foreseeable future. Expecting the right-handed-hitting corner infielder to singlehandedly turn the offense around is both unfair and unrealistic, but it is clear that Franco is ready for a long-term shot.
The No. 54 prospect on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect list was hitting a robust .355/.384/.539 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley at the time of his callup, picking up from the second half of 2014 at the same level, when he hit .309/.326/.551. Thinking Franco might hit better than .300 at the big league level isn't reasonable, but he's also not the guy who hit .179 in 56 big league at-bats last year.
As is evident from his career numbers in the Minors, namely his .329 on-base percentage, Franco isn't exactly an on-base machine. At the same time, for a guy who gets a 65 grade for his power on the 20-80 scouting scale, he doesn't strike out a ton. Even in Franco's best year -- the 2013 season in which he hit 31 homers and drove in 103 runs -- he only struck out 70 times. His ability to make consistent contact should help him for the rest of this season. Seeing Franco hit around .250-.260 the rest of the way seems feasible, with good power and run production.
Even though Franco has well-below-average speed, he actually is pretty solid at the hot corner defensively. He has a very strong arm and a good first step, with decent hands as well. At some point, Franco could slide over to first to replace Ryan Howard, but he has the skills to profile as a very good all-around third baseman for at least the immediate future.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.