Phillies in no rush to call up Franco
PHILADELPHIA -- If Phillies prospect Maikel Franco continues to hit like he has in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, there is no question he will join the Phillies in 2015.
But do not expect him in the next few weeks.
"We'll see," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said, when asked if he could see Franco sooner rather than later. "There hasn't been much talk about him."
There are reasons for that, despite the fact Franco entered Friday hitting .355 (22-for-62) with eight doubles, one triple, one home run, nine RBIs and a .968 OPS in 14 games. First, service time is involved. If Franco remains in the Minor Leagues for at least 40 days (or about the middle of May) the Phillies could push back his free agency from 2020 to 2021. That is important for a rebuilding team not expected to contend until 2017 at the earliest.
Second, because the Phillies are not expected to contend until 2017 they can be patient with his development. In other words, if the Phillies were a third baseman or first baseman away from being the second National League Wild Card team they might have a more difficult decision to make. But because they are not going to contend they can move him along more slowly, making sure he is ready before promoting him.
Third, when they bring him up they probably will want him to play regularly. Right now, Phillies third baseman Cody Asche is one of the team's only bright spots, hitting .333 (17-for-51) with two doubles, two home runs, three RBIs and an .872 OPS in 15 games. He has earned the right to play every day.
First baseman Ryan Howard is struggling, but they are expected to let him play for the foreseeable future. His is owed a combined $60 million this season and next, so before they throw that money away they would like to see if he could get things turned around first.
Again, there is no immediate reason to promote Franco. But do not worry, if he continues to hit he will be with the Phillies at some point.