This Arizona Fall League was loaded with very fine players in 2012. Among the prospects, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius -- then a Cincinnati Reds prospect -- was the most athletic player I saw. Close behind, very promising and exiting to scout, were the Seattle Mariners' Mike Zunino and Nick Franklin. Both are now on the parent club, and both should make major contributions.
I recently shared my thoughts on Zunino's Major League debut.
Franklin is now 15 games and 50 at-bats into his big league career, and the second baseman is making an impact. He's making a difference. He is becoming the player I scouted and wrote about last fall.
Franklin is transferring his solid, line-drive swing from his success at Triple-A Tacoma to early success in Seattle. His swing provides barrel-of-the-bat results that should lead to gap doubles and maybe some triples in the vast Safeco Field environment. And I've seen him hit some very long home runs in the Phoenix desert. I think he'll do that for the Mariners as well.
As I mentioned when analyzing Zunino's first game with the Mariners on Wednesday, it is difficult to hit consistently in Tacoma. It really isn't a picnic in the Northwest air in Seattle, either.
Franklin has an extremely good feel for the strike zone. He recognizes pitches early and reacts accordingly. That translates to a low strikeout and good walk ratio. He makes contact and puts the ball in play. His plate discipline will lead to greater and greater respect from pitchers.
It isn't just his knack for coming up with the big hit in a tense, low-scoring game that makes him special. It's his ability to approach his work with an even demeanor and a thirst for success. He wants to win. He wants to beat the opposition. One might think every player has that desire. Most do. Some, like Franklin, exhibit passion with a controlled swing, good defense and an ability to know his limitations. He has shown he is a complete player.
Franklin has outstanding baseball instincts. He seems to be in the right place at the right time. Big moments don't scare him. That has been evident so far on baseball's biggest stage.
His .300 average so far as a Major League player is very promising. His five doubles and two home runs wrapped around eight walks in a limited sampling are very encouraging. He has struck out 10 times.
Seemingly very comfortable at second base, Franklin would also be available to play shortstop, his former position, if needed.
MLB.com has ranked Franklin the fourth-best Mariners prospect.
The Mariners have to be encouraged with the Major League presence of Zunino and Franklin. They could form an outstanding nucleus while Seattle builds an exciting entry in the American League West.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.