Maikel Franco turns 22 on Tuesday.
Will he receive a belated birthday present and be called up to the majors after the Triple A season ends next Monday?
Both general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and manager Ryne Sandberg hedged Monday when asked whether Franco would join the big club for the final month of the season.
“That’s yet to be determined,” Sandberg said.
“We haven’t made a final decision on it, but we’re still discussing it internally,” Amaro said.
Franco started off slowly in his first season at Triple A, but has been on a tear for much of the last two months. Entering Monday, he was hitting .330 with nine homers, 38 RBIs and a .926 OPS in 47 games since the start of July.
Franco plays third base and first base. Therein lies the rub for the Phillies. Third baseman Cody Asche is still a developing player and the Phillies want him to continue to get reps. The team is committed to playing Ryan Howard at first base.
The desire to continue to get Asche and Howard at-bats could mean we won’t see Franco until February in Clearwater.
“The biggest thing for him is playing time, and making sure this is the right thing, the right atmosphere and the right time -- not atmosphere as much as playing time,” Amaro said. “To bring him up here just to sit around ... We’d like to assess some other things. There are a lot of different factors. We still have time to make a decision on it.”
Franco could still be a candidate to make the big club next spring if the Phillies trade Howard over the winter. The team would have to eat a huge amount of the $60 million that remains on his contract to do so. Moving Asche to left field has also been talked about within the organization.
In addition to Franco, the Phils are considering bringing up reliever Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Infielder Cesar Hernandez is likely to come up. Reliever Hector Neris, who spent time in the majors earlier this month, and catcher Cameron Rupp could also be possibilities.