Franco's four hits propel Fightin Phils

Phillies prospect continues to shine since recent promotion

By Jake Seiner / Special to | June 23, 2013 5:30 PM ET

After one game sizing up Maikel Franco, Double-A Reading manager Dusty Wathan was ready to promise he was worth the price of admission.

"He'll be an exciting guy to watch," Wathan told the Reading Eagle.

At the end of his first homestand, Franco's proving his new skipper prophetic.

The Phillies' 10th-ranked prospect went 4-for-5 and finished a triple shy of the cycle Sunday as he continued to dominate Eastern League pitching in Reading's 14-6 romp over Richmond.

Sunday's game was Franco's fourth since his promotion from the Florida State League. In that time, he's hitting .471 (8-for-17) with two homers, a triple, five RBIs and a 1.441 OPS.

The promotion followed a breakout first half in which he slugged 16 homers in 65 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater. The 20-year-old third baseman hit .299 with a .925 OPS, matching the OPS he posted over the second half of the 2012 season with Class A Lakewood, where he batted .346 with a .395 on-base percentage and .530 slugging percentage.

After a disappointing first half last year, Franco finished third in RBIs and fourth in homers among Phillies Minor Leaguers. This year, he's tops in the system with 18 roundtrippers, 57 RBIs and a .598 slugging percentage.

"We're all very excited [about him]," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan told the newspaper. "He's got a chance to be a good one. Really good."

Franco delivered an RBI triple to center field in the first inning and scored on Jim Murphy's sacrifice fly. After walking in the third, he sent a three-run homer over the left-center field fence in the fourth.

Franco singled in the sixth and seventh, then flied to right in the eighth with a shot at the cycle. The four-hit effort was his second of the season -- he went 4-for-5 against Daytona on April 16 -- and the fourth of his career.

The outburst has shot Franco up prospect lists as his emerging power could make him an impact talent at third. He should be a quality defender at the hot corner, where his arm is an asset.

"He can play defense," Wathan told the Reading Eagle. "He has a plus arm. His range, maybe it's not the best, [but] he comes in on the ball very well, very good hands to cover the bunt."

Anthony Hewitt also homered for Reading. The 24-year-old outfielder also went yard twice Saturday and has driven in six runs in the last two games.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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