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]

Flyers reveal 2017 Stadium Series jerseys

Flyers reveal 2017 Stadium Series jerseys

Back in black.

The Flyers on Saturday morning revealed their 2017 Stadium Series jerseys for their Feb. 25 outdoor game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field.

With their 50th anniversary sweaters resembling their current away jerseys with gold outlining throughout, the Flyers have gone back to black and orange for the outdoor game.

The jersey is almost all black, with an orange name plate and an orange elbow stripe. Orange is sprinkled throughout the jersey.

In addition to the outdoor game, the Flyers will also wear the jersey against the Penguins on March 15 at the Wells Fargo Center, a Wednesday Night Rivalry game.

Pittsburgh unveiled its Stadium Series jersey back on Nov. 25, an all gold uniform in celebration of its 50th season.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story).