Pipeline Inbox: Where does Franklin fit with Rays?
MLB.com's Jim Callis answers questions about the game's top prospects
I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and is enjoying the holiday weekend. The baseball world never rests, as evidenced by the Marlins-Royals trade Friday, and neither does the MLB Pipeline Inbox. Let's get to your questions!
Where do you think second baseman Nick Franklin fits in the Rays organization? Does he still have the tools and potential that made him a top prospect?
-- Cameron C., Cross River, N.Y.
Acquired in the David Price trade in July, Franklin could be the Rays' second baseman of the future. Or the present, depending on how Tampa Bay decides to deploy the versatile Ben Zobrist in 2015.
The 27th overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Franklin has little left to prove in Triple-A (where he has hit .272/.362/.424 in 205 games during the last three years) but has yet to show he can hit big league pitching (against which he has batted .213/.289/.358 in 130 games the last two seasons). He's still just 23 and has the tools to become a .260 hitter with 15 homers and a healthy amount of walks per season while playing solid defense.
A switch-hitter, Franklin is a noticeably better hitter with more power from the left side of the plate, so he might be better off giving up batting right-handed. He'll definitely need to produce in the Majors this year because he has one of game's best second-base prospects in his rearview mirror in Ryan Brett.
Why is right-hander Miguel Castro not in the Blue Jays' Top 20?
-- David G., Toronto
The MLB Pipeline team constantly updates our Prospect Watch lists every time a prospect graduates to the Majors or changes organizations. We only overhaul the lists twice a year, during the spring and summer. Castro got caught in between because he hadn't emerged when we revamped our Toronto list in July and there hasn't been an opening since.
Rest assured that Castro will figure prominently in our next Blue Jays update. Signed for $180,000 from the Dominican Republic in 2011, he spent his first full year in the United States in 2014 and went 8-3 with a 2.68 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings (mostly at short-season Vancouver). His stuff was even more impressive than his stats, as the 6-foot-5 righty worked in the mid-90s and reached 99 mph while also flashing an above-average changeup.
What sort of improvements has Marlins outfielder Austin Dean made and has his profile changed much since he turned pro?
-- Lance R., Plano, Texas
A fourth-round pick in 2012, Dean for the most part has lived up to his amateur scouting reports. He was an infielder at Klein Collins High (Spring, Texas), but most scouts thought his below-average speed would necessitate a move to left field. Miami shifted him there as soon as he signed for $367,200.
Dean got drafted because he has the right-handed swing and bat speed to produce for both average and power, and he has shown signs of doing so. As a 20-year-old, he hit .308/.371/.444 at low Class A Greensboro in 2014. He has a good feel for hitting but will have to tap into more of his power to play regularly as a left fielder in the Majors.
Why are Draft picks not included in trades in baseball like they are in other sports?
-- Jason A., Newport, Minn.
The simple answer is that the original rules didn't permit trades when the Draft was instituted in 1965. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which took effect in December 2011, did create 12 competitive-balance lottery picks and allowed clubs to deal them. But unlike in the other major sports, baseball's first-round choices and the vast majority of selections can't change hands.
There have been a total of six trades involving competitive-balance lottery picks (which can't be dealt more than once). Proponents of more widespread trading believe it would give teams more flexibility, either to trade for big leaguers or Minor League prospects, or to swap for more choices lower in the Draft. Opponents believe it could give premium players and their agents too much power, essentially allowing them to choose the club they want to play for.
Some team executives believe that allowing the trading of competitive-balance lottery selections was a trial balloon that could pave the way for more extensive dealing in the next CBA. I'll believe that when I see it, because in my 25 years of covering the Draft, there have been many more rule changes discussed than actually have been approved.