We all realize that it's a tough time to be a Phillies fan. After watching game after game this season even the wins tinge with a pangs of missed opportunity, pain, and failure. But now time for something completely different: possible hope for the future! Phillies 21 year-old prospect Maikel Franco was voted the best defensive third basemen and the best infield arm of the International League in BaseballAmerica.coms's “Best Tools.”
According to MLB.com, Franco is listed as the Phillies No. 3 prospect and No. 60 in MLB.com's current Prospect watch. This season Franco currently sits with 142 assists and 60 put-outs in only 86 games at third base this season sporting a .962 fielding percentage which has earned him those spots on that “best tools” list. Beyond the defensive accolades, Franco has been greatly redeeming himself from a rough start; last month in 25 games Franco hit .342 with four home runs and 23 RBIs.
Does this current success mean a call-up is immanent for Franco? Not at all. Since Cody Asche (who has also improving himself batting .358 in the last 7 games) currently sits firmly at third-base, Ryne Sandberg believes "it’s beneficial right now that [Franco] plays as much as he can play, no question about it. Just for the experience and the at-bats and his development. The more he can play, the better.” In other words Franco will stick with the Iron Pigs so he doesn't have to split playing time with Asche.
Still don't be shocked to see Franco pop into major league uniform with September's expanded rosters, but until then you might want to keep your eye on and visit the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs as way to keep this lack-luster Philadelphia baseball season some-what interesting. Perhaps you'll get glimpse into the future and actually have something different to watch for, hope.
P.S. If hope isn't enough, the Iron Pig stadium does have decent beer prices and pee-controlled urinal video games to drown out your sorrows and keep you occupied for the rest of this baseball season.
Jesse Aaron Barnhart is a contributor to Philliedelphia.com