Philly's No. 3 prospect Maikel Franco continued his resurgence this month, going 4-for-4 with a homer and a pair of RBIs as Triple-A Lehigh Valley fell to Buffalo, 4-2, on Monday night.
Franco put the IronPigs ahead in the first inning when he took veteran starter Radhames Liz deep to center field with two outs for his eighth home run of the year. He added an RBI single in the third, singled again in the fifth and finished off his perfect day at the plate in the eighth off Sergio Santos with a leadoff base hit and his first stolen base of the year.
Franco began the season as the Phillies' top prospect but got off to a rough start, hitting .172 in April. After seeing some results in May, he bottomed out on June 23 when his average sunk to .207 and his on-base percentage hit .265.
The third baseman, a Futures Game All-Star this summer, posted monster numbers a season ago when he hit .320 with 31 homers and 103 RBIs with Double-A Reading, but has seen his stock slip slightly this season after a promotion to Triple-A. On Sunday, MLB.com moved the Dominican Republic native back from No. 1 to No. 3 in the Phillies system.
But Franco's bat has awoken as the summer wears on. After hitting .162 in June, the third baseman is batting .352 in July, going 31-for-88 with three homers, 21 RBIs and a .370 OBP. The 21-year-old has posted multi-hit efforts in 10 of his 22 games this month, including another 4-for-4 game to kick things off on July 2.
Buffalo scored in each of the first three innings off IronPigs starter Sean O'Sullivan (4-9), who went the distance, allowing four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits and two walks over eight innings. Kevin Pillar hit a two-run homer in the first and Ryan Schimpf and Jonathan Diaz added RBIs for the Bisons (55-53).
Liz, pitching in the Minors for the first time since 2010, improved to 1-0 in his fourth start for Buffalo. The former Major Leaguer held Lehigh Valley to a pair of runs on six hits and three walks while striking out three in six frames.