Phillies Prospect Maikel Franco Hits 30th Home Run on 21st Birthday

Phillies Prospect Maikel Franco Hits 30th Home Run on 21st Birthday

Cody Asche might be the “full package,” but Maikel Franco is the muscle. The Phillies’ other third-base prospect has been tearing it up in the minor leagues all summer, and on Monday he reached some big milestones for a baseball season at any level, coincidentally on the same day he reached a big milestone in life as well.

Franco bashed his 30th home run and 100th RBI of 2013 on the same day he was allowed to legally drink his first alcoholic beverage in the United States. No word on how the freshly-minted 21 year old celebrated his achievement on the diamond, but we have some suggestions.

At this rate Franco is going to breeze through the farm system after joining the organization as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He started this year at class-A Clearwater for the first time, but earned a promotion after just 65 games there, batting .299 with 16 home runs and 52 runs batted in. Amazingly he’s on almost exactly the same pace at double-A Reading, batting .328 with 14 homers and 48 RBI after 62 games.

The kid can flat out rake.

With Asche already doing a solid job over at the hot corner for the Phils, there is some question as to where both guys would play once Franco inevitably gets his call to the show. Recently the young Dominican began trying his hand over at first base, although that sounds like it’s still a work in progress.

[Reading manager Dusty] Wathan said the transition is going smoothly, even if there are going to be some inevitable hiccups.

For example, Franco failed to dig out a poor throw by shortstop Edgar Duran that resulted in an error in the second inning Monday.

"He's starting to get comfortable with first base," Wathan said. "He was upset with himself when he didn't pick that low throw. He expected to do that. He's been working hard at it. It's one of those things that will come with time."

Obviously there is a fairly large block at first base as well in the form of Ryan Howard and $25 million per year. The earliest the Phillies can get out from under his contract is 2016, and at least for the time being nobody in their right mind would trade for him – maybe as his deal is expiring, if he has anything left by then.

On the other hand, Howard hasn’t been completely healthy for a few years, so there may be some playing time for Franco over there after all. And the kid is probably a year away from being a viable option there anyway, although at the rate he’s crushing the minors it appears he might be ready ahead of schedule.

Either way, it’s good news for Phillies fans. Franco appears to have a bright future no matter where he plays in the field.

>> Franco, Dugan homer to rally Fightin Phils [Reading Eagle]

Today's Lineup: Andres Blanco in, Maikel Franco out after HBP last night

Today's Lineup: Andres Blanco in, Maikel Franco out after HBP last night

After being hit on the wrist by a pitch in Friday's win (see story), Maikel Franco will not play today. Instead, Andres Blanco will take his place, hitting third in the lineup. Blanco was 2 for 2 replacing Franco in the third inning on Friday, with an RBI and a run scored. 

Blanco has been reliable when called upon this season, hitting .264 with a .317 OBP in mostly a utility role.

Other than that, the lineup remains the same as Friday.

Peter Bourjos will leadoff after going 0 for 5 last night, followed by Odubel Herrara. After an All-Star first half, Herrara has hit .211 in July, but seemed to get back on track with three hits on Friday, while scoring two runs. 

After a brutal stretch of games and an extended All-Star break, Aaron Nola returned to form vs. the Marlins last week, tossing six shutout innings. Nola again looks to prove the doubters wrong again today vs. the Pirates, who he has never faced in his brief career. 

Here is tonight's lineup:

1. Peter Bourjos RF
2. Odubel Herrera CF
3. Andres Blanco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Cameron Rupp C
6. Cody Asche LF
7. Freddy Galvis SS
8. Cesar Hernandez 2B
9. Aaron Nola P

 

Yeah, Joel Embiid is healthy

Yeah, Joel Embiid is healthy

Have any doubts about Joel Embiid's health?

Well take a look at this. 

Working on rips into quick spins with the brodie @joelembiid! #100skills100days #unseenhours @adidashoops

A video posted by Drew Hanlen (@drewhanlen) on

How about now?

Of course, this isn't live NBA action, and it is against 5-11 Drew Hanlen, a skills coach and consultant, but it's impressive nonetheless.

 

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley: Sixers can be 'really good, really quickly'

Charles Barkley is jumping on the Sixers bandwagon.

"I think the Sixers gonna get really good, really quickly, but it all depends on (Joel) Embiid," Barkley said. "They're not gonna win a championship the next couple years, but I think they can really become a perrenial playoff team in the next three years."

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of "ifs" according to Barkley. 

Most of those "ifs" ride on the health of center Joel Embiid. If the big man gets healthy, and the Sixers can resolve the "glutton of big guys," Barkley likes the Sixers chances.

"I think the most important thing they need to figure out is if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. ... I like (Jahlil) Okafor and I like (Nerlens) Noel, but they gotta figure out if Joel Embiid is going to be healthy. 

"I like Ben Simmons, but that team's got a long way to go," Barkley said.

To hear more of Barkley's thoughts on the Sixers' future, watch the full video above.