MiLB.com's Fantasy Focus column this week pinpointed Nick Franklin as one prospect whose stock was on the rise early on this season.
And that was before seeing what he did Thursday night.
Triple-A Tacoma's second baseman went a perfect 5-for-5, doubling twice, scoring three times, driving in two runs and walking once in a come-from-behind 13-12 win over Las Vegas.
It was the second five-hit game of Franklin's pro career. The first came with Class A Advanced High Desert on May 25, 2011 against Modesto. But Seattle's No. 4 prospect maintained the highlight of this night was the team's ninth-inning comeback.
Trailing 10-6, Franklin began the inning with a single. Three batters later, Mike Zunino began a string of back-to-back-to-back bases-loaded walks that made it 10-9. Then Denny Almonte's RBI single tied the game. A wild pitch put Tacoma ahead and a sacrifice fly provided an insurance run.
Then Franklin stepped up again and singled once more for the fifth hit, while also giving the Rainiers what would be the decisive run.
"I was pretty excited that we came back," he said. "It was 10-6, scoring seven runs in the ninth, that's a great effort for us. We were actually walking a lot, instead of making outs we were being patient. With the patience came the key hits, so we were excited, pumped for each other, glad to pull it out.
"It's great to have five hits, but there are greater moments. The comeback from behind was the highlight of the night."
Last season Franklin hit .322/.394/.502 in 57 games for Double-A Jackson before getting his first taste of Triple-A. In 64 Pacific Coast League games, he hit .243/.310/.416.
This year Franklin has been one of the game's hottest prospects in the season's first month. After Thursday's effort, the 22-year-old has hit safely in 11 of the 12 games he's appeared in this season. He boasts a .400 average, .509 on-base percentage, .600 slugging percentage, two homers, three doubles and more walks (nine) than strikeouts (three).
Throw in a perfect 3-for-3 on steal attempts as well, and Franklin's start can certainly be called one of the best in the Minors this year.
"I think it's just that the hard work has paid off," said Franklin of his production. "I was working on my swing in the offseason, Spring Training, to be ready. I worked a lot on my switch-hitting, hitting right-handed, trying to make it a more consistent swing from both sides of the plate.
"Tonight I was just going up to the plate, having my same approach, not wasting any at-bats. Having that mind-set kind of led to the hits."
Tacoma first baseman Alex Liddi went 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs. Both Stefen Romero and Carlos Triunfel homered.
Second-ranked Mets prospect Zack Wheeler started for the 51s. The right-hander allowed five runs on six hits and three walks while fanning seven over five innings.