A year ago, Maikel Franco was the toast of the Minor Leagues. Now Franco is facing the true test of a prospect and finding his way back after a rough start.
The Phillies' top prospect went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs as Triple-A Lehigh Valley defeated Gwinnett, 7-5, on Thursday.
Franco broke a 1-1 tie in the third inning with a two-run single. After doubling and scoring in the fifth, he launched a solo homer in the seventh to cap the scoring for the IronPigs. He finished a triple short of the cycle.
"He had a heck of a night, that's for sure," G-Braves manager Brian Snitker told the Gwinnett Daily Post.
The 21-year-old third baseman got off to a rocky start in the International League, going 4-for-41 to start his season. Since then, he's batting .275 with two home runs and seven RBIs for the IronPigs. Overall, Franco, who also stole a base Thursday, is hitting .196 with 11 runs scored in 24 games.
A season ago, Franco was as hot a hitter as they come. The native of the Dominican Republic amassed a .320 average with 31 homers and 103 RBIs in 134 Minor League games between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading, in the process earning him a MiLBY for Breakout Prospect.
Clete Thomas reached base three times and scored twice out of the leadoff spot while Koyie Hill plated a pair of runs for Lehigh Valley.
Sean O'Sullivan (1-2) earned the win after allowing four runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. Luis Garcia gave up a hit in the ninth for his fourth save.
Christian Bethancourt, the Braves' No. 2 prospect, plated a pair of runs while No. 17 Todd Cunningham went 4-for-4 with four runs scored.