The Phillies had two representatives at the Futures Game this year Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford. There were a lot of other prospects there, and I will get to them in a later piece. I was able to make the 4.5 hour trek from Madison to Minneapolis to take in the game, which was well worth it. I have some notes on both Franco and Crawford, but rather than just talking about the game lets look at it in the bigger context of their seasons.
Unfortunately World BP started at 12:00 pm, which was before the gates opened to the public at 2:00pm, so I was unable to be there for Franco’s batting practice. Luckily there were people there.
And Josh Norris of Baseball America also filmed each participant’s BP session
From the side you can really see the deep load in Franco’s swing which draws back his arms to near full extension, this is a lot of the “arm-bar” swing comments come from. From there the bat explodes into the zone. The problem with this is that there is a lot of length to Franco’s swing, which he does make up for with great bat speed. The other consequence of his extended arm is that it makes it very difficult for him to make adjustments on pitches in the middle of his swing. Much like the bat speed bails out the swing length, great hand-eye coordination allow Franco to still get the bat on the ball at a high rate, however, against better pitching the contact off of this ability has been rather poor, leading to eye ground ball and pop up rates.
In contrast to Franco here is another slugging 3B in Kris Bryant.
You see a much less exaggerated load and then the swing extends through the ball. I will get to Bryant in a later piece, but the result is that he has the control to take the ball wherever he wants in the park, whereas Franco has been a pull heavy hitter who has had to constantly work to go the other way.
Despite being listed on the roster as a first baseman Franco took part in infield drills from third base. On the World side he was joined by Renato Nunez and Rosell Herrera, the US third baseman were Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo. Of the group I thought Franco was the least fluid, it was possibly just the moment, but he did not have great movements around the bag. On the ground ball he had to charge, the lack of range was really glaring, he is slow to accelerate and he does not cover a lot of ground. His arm was probably the second best of the group behind Gallo. I still don’t like how sidearm is throws are, but it works. Based on infield, I think he could stay at third base for now, but the range is still poor, the big question is that he is already really thick and only 21 years old. I worry that as he gets older the range is going to get a point where teams are going to be able to exploit him. That may not be for a good amount of years, but he did not stand out positively next to his peers.
Franco came on in the 5th inning as a defensive substitute at third base. He did not have a single ball hit at him during that time. At the plate his first AB was against Diamondbacks RHP and 2013 First Round Pick Braden Shipley. The first pitch was a 93 mph fastball for a ball. The second was one of Shipley’s plus changeups. It seemed to fool Franco but he did make enough contact to fly out to right center. In the 9th inning Franco was the last batter and faced off against Met’s prospect Noah Syndergaard. Franco swung and missed at a 95 mph fastball, then had a weak foul ball off of a curveball. Syndergaard then bounced a curveball 3 feet short of the plate. The last pitch was a 96 mph fastball that Franco timed up pretty well and took to fairly deep straight away center for a flyout and last out of the game. Overall Franco looks good when he is looking fastball, the Shipley change seemed to fool him some, but it was impressive to see him still get the bat on the ball.
Up next J.P. Crawford…