It has been an unpleasant spring in Philadelphia but one of the bright spots for the Phillies has been the emergence of rookie third baseman Maikel Franco.
Franco came up in mid-May (you can see what we thought about him at the time here) and his tenure thus far has been excellent: he was named National League Rookie of the Month for June and is hitting .299/.342/.543 with 10 homers, 10 walks, and 28 strikeouts in 184 at-bats. He's run up a 142 OPS+, wRC+ 143, and a 1.5 fWAR.
Can't beat that. What should we expect from here?
There's always been some concern about Franco's low walk rate and worries about his swing mechanics leaving him vulnerable to inside pitches. The latter doesn't seem like a big deal right now. It is true that his walk rate is low, but his strikeout rate is also low and always has been.
Here is his pre-season comment from the 2015 Baseball Prospect Book.
Maikel Franco got off to a slow start in Triple-A last year, leading to some "I told you sos" from people who have always doubted his swing. He was rough through June but made adjustments and was much more effective late in the season, hitting .309/.326/.551 in his last 46 games before promotion to the majors. In the Show he was taken advantage of for his over-aggressiveness, but given his track record it seems likely that he will adjust as necessary. Franco’s defense at third base is solid enough for him to stay there, at least in the short run. He doesn’t always look pretty but he avoids excessive mistakes, has a strong arm and can surprise you with his range. My guess is that Franco’s bat will be inconsistent in the majors, at least initially, with cold streaks and hot spells combining to give him slightly above-average performance overall. There will likely be an adjustment period but ultimately I think he emerges as a decently productive player who gradually improves each year then has a massive breakout at age 26. Grade B+.
Despite the hot start that makes "slightly above-average performance" sound too pessimistic, the overall take still seems reasonable to me. He's on a hot streak the last six weeks but my guess is that we will see his batting average and OBP fluctuate as pitches adjust, though the isolated power should remain. That said, the "massive breakout" projected at age 26 would be a whole four years down the road and that does seem too pessimistic given what he's done in the majors and minors over the last 12 months.
Overall though, if K.B. from Asheville made that trade back in May, he's probably very happy right now.