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Phils name top Minor League award winners

PHILADELPHIA -- Everything about the Phillies these days is about the future. It is why Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley did not start Tuesday against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies want to give Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis a look instead.

But on the afternoon the organization named third baseman Maikel Franco and right-hander Severino Gonzalez its 2013 Paul Owens Award winners as the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, Phillies assistant general manager of player personnel Benny Looper discussed several topics.

First, Franco and Gonzalez.

Franco, 21, hit .320 with 36 doubles, 31 home runs and 103 RBIs in 134 games with Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. He led all Minor Leaguers with 308 total bases. He finished tied for second in the Minors in extra-base hits (70), ranked fourth in hits (173), tied for seventh in homers and tied for eighth in RBIs.

The Phillies recently started playing Franco at first base to give him another option at the big league level. Cody Asche looks like he could be the Opening Day third baseman next season. The Phillies hoped Franco would play in the Arizona Fall League, where he could play both positions, but his Winter Ball team in the Dominican declined the request.

"It's where we got more control, and then send him to winter ball," Looper said. "But it's fine. He's going to be playing."

Gonzalez, 20, went 7-5 with a 2.00 ERA in 25 games (14 starts) with Class A Lakewood, Clearwater and Reading. He struck out 119 in 103 2/3 innings this season.

"His fastball can go both ways," Looper said. "He cuts it and he sinks it. In a sense, he's trying to emulate Mariano [Rivera] and his cutter. He looks underdeveloped. He's going to get bigger and stronger. He can really pitch. He's fun to watch. He's real competitive on the mound. He doesn't mind throwing inside. He pitches like a veteran. He has three or four different pitches, throws them in any count. Throws a lot of strikes. He had a very good year last year in Venezuela and he just continued that this year. He pitched well wherever we've thrown him.

"He does need to get bigger and stronger. He needs to improve his changeup. He's got some things to work on. But he's got good command of more than one pitch. He does have a chance of moving up quicker than others, where it takes them a few years to figure out their command."

Severino started Monday in Double-A in place of left-hander Jesse Biddle, whom the organization decided to shut down.

Biddle went 5-14 with a 3.64 ERA in 27 starts this season.

"He's pitched enough," Looper said. "He came out of the last game coughing. … He started out great. He punched out 16 one game and he ended up with that whooping cough and he never came back. He showed flashes of it. The game the other night, he showed good stuff -- fastball, great angle, curveball, change. Didn't command the fastball the way he did early. It was not one extreme to the other, but he was performing well early. We think he'll be back there next year."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for
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