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Phillies Call Up Maikel Franco

Maikel Franco - BeGreen90 Flickr
BeGreen90 - Flickr
The Philadelphia Phillies are currently rebuilding their franchise.  You could say they started rebuilding when they traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants (Tommy Joseph, Seth Rosin and Nate Schierholtz) and Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers (Josh LindblomEthan Martin, Stefan Jarrin) back in July 2012.

But trading the face of the franchise in Jimmy Rollins this winter the the Dodgers (Zach Eflin and Tom Windle) really showed that they were ready to rebuild.

The Phillies have called upon 3B prospect Maikel Franco, who is ranked 3rd in the farm system, behind SS J.P. Crawford and RHP Aaron Nola.  He will get to play everyday, as the team demoted Cody Asche.

Franco had 56 ABs last September, and hit .179 picking up 5 RBI.  He had two mutli-hit games but failed to hit a home run an picked up just 2 doubles.  He struck out 13 times and drew one walk.

Franco is a career .280 minor league hitter, across 6 seasons.  In 2013, he hit 36 doubles, 31 home runs and drove in 103 runs.  He only struck out 70 times and hit .320 in 134 games.

7/29 Update

Franco is hitting .281 with 11 home runs 38 RBI and 36 runs scored in 253 AB over 65 games.


Where Do the Phillies Go From Here

Philadelphia still has two huge trade chips in their hands to help continue rebuilding their franchise. 

Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon

7/29 Update

Hamels is due $23 mil per season through 2018 when he will be 34 years old.  This will limit the return Philly can get for the lefty.  However, Hamels has proven to be a great pitcher and is having a good season, striking out nearly 10 batter per 9 innings.  Someone will offer the Phillies a trade for Hamels, but will it be enough to pull the trigger?

Papelbon has been linked to the Boston Red Sox and most recently the Miami Marlins, who had to remove Steve Cishek from his closer role.  Pap is 34 years old and makes $13 mil, but his contract is up after next season.  Not sure how much return a closer can land you, but recent Huston Street deals can give you a good idea:
  • November 10, 2008: Traded by the Oakland Athletics with Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith to the Colorado Rockies for Matt Holliday.
  • December 7, 2011: Traded by the Colorado Rockies with cash to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later. The San Diego Padres sent Nick Schmidt (minors) (December 9, 2011) to the Colorado Rockies to complete the trade.
  • July 19, 2014: Traded by the San Diego Padres with Trevor Gott (minors) to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Taylor Lindsey (minors), Elliot Morris (minors), Jose Rondon (minors) and R.J. Alvarez.
When/if these two pitchers are gone, the Phillies will be stuck riding out Chase Utley and Ryan Howard's contracts or will have to pretty much give them away.  Utley is 36 hitting .118 and Howard is 35 hitting .230.  Combined they make $40 mil per year and under contract through 2017.  It will be VERY hard to move these two.


Futures Players Already on the Team

It would appear as if Odubel Herrera and Ben Revere are the only players on the field who are part of the teams future, and you could question the teams loyalty towards Revere. Even on the pitching staff, Ken Giles is the only player under the age of 30 who will be part of the future bullpen.

The farm system is ranked 20th by Baseball Prospectus and features Deivi Grullon, who at 19 years old and in A ball is nowhere near ready to be a part of the franchise but their 12th ranked prospect and could replace Carlos Ruiz. Andrew Knapp could fill in while Grullon develops.

Philly's farm has no true 1B which might force them to move Franco to the other corner, and unless Herrera comes back into the infield, they have no one to replace Utley.

Crawford is the future at SS and will be the face of the franchise unless they make a huge splash in free agency.

Roman Quinn will join Revere/Herrera in the OF as early as September, but that would leave the Phillies with no power hitter in the corner OF positions. Not a recipe for success.

Philly could sign Justin Upton or Jason Heyward this offseason, but why would those guys want to join a rebuilding franchise that is years away from winning again?

Pitching dominates the Phillies top ranked prospects, and Efflin and Windle were acquired this winter. Added to Nola, Ben Lively, Jesse Biddle and Matt Imhof, the Phillies just need to hope they pan out the way the Mets arms have in Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and now Noah Syndergaard and eventually Steven Matz.

It will take a few years for the Phillies to return to a playoff contender and at 13-23, in a surprisingly tough National League East division, the season is already over.  But the future in Philly has some bright spots, and the franchise can turn itself around, landing big time prospects in trades for Hamels and Papelbon.