There is an old baseball adage that a winning baseball team should have power hitters at the corner infield positions. The Philadelphia Phillies could accomplish that by having both Ryan Howard at first base and Maikel Franco at third base. Franco is 21 years old and the Phillies’ top prospect who has elite power and batting ability. Although current third baseman Cody Asche played well in limited time last year, his ceiling is not high and his intangibles do not match that of Franco.
The current Phillies’ roster matches many other old baseball standards for having a successful team, such as speed up the middle with shortstop Jimmy Rollins, second basemen Chase Utley and especially center fielder Ben Revere. They also have two strong starting pitchers in Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, both of whom would be formidable starters in a playoff series. Although he is still raw, adding Franco to the lineup would add immediate power to the Phillies.
Franco has shown that he does not have the best range at third base and could even be considered a below-average fielder at this point. Some of his mistakes can be covered up by the skill of Rollins who still is able to field his position at shortstop. Franco will also hide his fielding deficiencies because of his arm, which is strong.
The argument will be made that Franco is not ready for the majors or that he is too young. Inserting Franco’s power bat into the lineup will give the Phillies potential right from the beginning of the 2014 season. For example, the excitement brought on by Yasiel Puig instantly turned around the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season in 2013. Franco could also add protection in the lineup for Dominic Brown and Ryan Howard while also being protected himself by veterans like Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd. Franco has the makings to be a successful major league player. Under the Phillies’ particular circumstances bringing him into the lineup from the start of the season may give them the best opportunity to attain success.