After struggling to start the season, Phillies prospect Maikel Franco is suddenly playing better at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Franco is hitting .240 for the season, but his numbers in July were pretty good. In 25 games last month, Franco hit .343 with four home runs and 23 RBIs.
Have the Phillies had any conversations about calling up the 21-year-old third baseman when the roster expands in September?
“There hasn’t,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “But the fact is, he is making some strides. He’s putting together some at-bats and some weeks of good contact and some better at-bats. Those are definitely steps in the right direction. If the case is he would come here, the best scenario is that he comes here with a lot of confidence and with positive results.”
Sandberg added that Lehigh is the best place for Franco right now because it affords him the opportunity to play every day.
“I think it’s beneficial right now that he plays as much as he can play, no question about it,” Sandberg said. “Just for the experience and the at-bats and his development. The more he can play, the better.”
Nola’s Double A debut
Aaron Nola will make his first start for Double A Reading Wednesday evening. The 21-year-old out of LSU was the seventh-overall pick in the 2014 draft. He was considered one of the most polished pitchers available, and there’s been talk about him possibly being fast-tracked to the majors as early as next season. While Sandberg was mum about Cliff Lee, he said he was excited to see how Nola pitches Wednesday.
“Double A is a good test for that with prospects there and the caliber of play,” Sandberg said. “It’s a stepping stone, so we’ll see how he adjusts to that. We’ll see how he performs. It will be one of the first good tests for him.”
Nola was promoted to Double A after just six starts at Clearwater. Over 31 1/3 innings there, he had a 3.16 ERA to go with 30 strikeouts and five walks.