Photo courtesy of the Reading Fightin' Phils
2013 gave us a good look at a young third base prospect for the Phillies, Cody Asche. In 50 games for the Phils, Asche hit just .235 but flashed his glove more than once. With Asche the favorite for the third base job out of camp, let's take a look at who is behind him in the farm, including top prospect Maikel Franco.
Maikel Franco (2013 - CLR/REA) - Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a non-drafted free agent in January 2010, Franco enters 2014 as the top ranked Phillies prospect. Since his bat came alive in the New-York Penn League in 2011 with the Crosscutters, Franco has climbed up the minor league ladder relatively quickly. Primarily a third baseman, Franco will see more time at first base this season in the minors, which makes sense considering the emergence of Cody Asche. In 2013, Franco, 21, played 65 games in Advanced-A Clearwater and 69 in Double-A Reading. His .299 average in his time with the Threshers paired with 16 homers and 52 RBI earned him a promotion to Reading, where his bat exploded for a .339 average. Franco added 15 more homers and 51 RBI with the Fightin Phils. Known mostly for his power, Franco earned the Phillies minor league player of the year, leading the minors in batting (.320), homers (31) and RBIs (103). 2013 saw Franco cut down his strikeouts and increase his walks. Expect the Phils top prospect to start off 2014 in Lehigh Valley with the opportunity to make it to Philadelphia later in the year, unless injuries occur earlier. We will an early look at Franco in Spring Training as he is will be attending as non-roster invitee.
Zach Green (2013 - Williamsport) - Green enters 2013 as the #15 overall Phillies prospect according to Baeball America. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft, the 19 year-old third base prospect hit .284 in his first professional season in the GCL, which earned him a spot in Williamsport in Short Season 'A' ball in 2013. His average dropped to .252, but Green showed increased power with 13 home runs, leading the NYP League, and 20 doubles, which was tied for first in the league. He also finished second in slugging at .476. That may all sound good, but Green also led the NYP league in strikeouts with 91 over his 311 plate appearances, struggling to hit the breaking ball. He needs some fine-tuning at the hot corner as well, but at 19, he has some time to grow into a valuable asset. Look for him to start the season with low Class 'A' Lakewood, where he will likely join talented shortstop prospect JP Crawford to make a nice infield duo.
Jan Hernandez (2013 - GCL Phillies) - The first player to be drafted from the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico, the Phillies took him in the third round. A primary high school shortstop, the 19 year-old Phils prospect spent his entire season playing 39 games in the Gulf Coast League. 2013 was a year for Hernandez to get his bat speed used to professional baseball, as he struggling making contact with a .210 average. He is known to have a quick swing from the right side and an above average arm. Hernandez will likely see more time in the GCL to fine tune his hitting before advancing in the organization.
Luis Encarnacion (2013 - N/A) - Signed by the Phillies in August of 2013, Encarnacion is just 16 years old and was ranked the 4th overall International Prospect this offseason. One of the top hitters out of Latin America, Encarnacion enters 2014 as the Phillies 13th overall prospect according to Baseball America. Given a $1 million bonus for signing, the young prospect is an extremely powerful hitter, but doens't have a great fielding reputation. He spent time in the instructional league this offseason, working on his third base technique, which needs some serious work. His lack of running ability could put him as limit his success at the hot corner as well. He could be a future first baseman or outfielder, but for now his power seems likely to land him in a good spot, wherever that may be. Extended spring training will be the starting point for Encarnacion, who will see some action in the GCL this season as well. It will be exciting to see how his power in the Dominican translates over to the MLB system in 2014.
Brandon Apter is a contributor to Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @ApterShock