Crew claims Franklin, designates Blazek

Crew claims Franklin, designates Blazek

MILWAUKEE -- Nick Franklin is a switch-hitting, former first-round Draft pick who just turned 26 in March, already has played parts of four seasons in the Majors and plays all around the infield and outfield.

After Franklin went on the waiver wire this week, the Brewers won a claim Wednesday for the former Rays utility man. They designated Triple-A reliever Michael Blazek for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Franklin, and they will have to free a spot on the 25-man roster when he arrives in Milwaukee on Friday.

"Switch-hitters who can play multiple positions and have had success hitting at points in their careers are rare finds," said Brewers general manager David Stearns, who has been extremely active on the waiver wire in his year and a half on the job.

Franklin, who was designated for assignment on Saturday, has yet to see sustained success in the Majors, slashing .219/.288/.371 in 802 plate appearances since breaking into the big leagues with Seattle in 2013.

Franklin steals second base

The Mariners drafted Franklin with the 27th overall selection in the 2009 Draft, one pick after the Brewers took Indiana University right-hander Eric Arnett.

Franklin rose as high as No. 47 on MLB.com analyst Jonathan Mayo's prospect rankings entering 2013, when Franklin made it to the Majors by late May and played in 102 games, hitting .225/.303/.382 with 12 home runs in 412 plate appearances.

Franklin has not topped 200 plate appearances in any season in the Majors since '13, but he owns an .805 OPS over eight Minor League seasons, including a .782 OPS at the Triple-A level.

"He's in the same spot in his career as a lot of these guys [already in Milwaukee]," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It's a place where he's got something to prove still, but he's shown enough that he's a player we'd like to try to give a chance to."

The Brewers found a gem with a similar player in Hernan Perez, a former waiver claim from Detroit who started games at every position but pitcher and catcher during a successful 2016 campaign in Milwaukee.

It may take some time, Stearns said, "to grow with [Franklin] in that context."

First, the Brewers had to get Franklin onto the 40-man roster. That happened at the expense of Blazek, 28, who posted a 2.43 ERA in 55 2/3 innings for the Brewers in 2015, but slipped down the depth chart in 2016, when he dealt with a forearm injury and posted a 5.66 ERA in 41 1/3 innings.

Blazek fans Castillo

If Blazek clears waivers, he will remain with Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"I think the notion of taking a guy off the roster feels like a really big deal, but at this point, nothing changes for Michael Blazek. He's going to pitch and try to get outs at Triple-A -- hopefully," Counsell said. "At this time, it's what we had to do to make that transaction."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.