There's no secret to Nick Franklin's success. It isn't the result of a drastic mechanical change and it has nothing to do with a pregame ritual, an energy drink or a lucky bat. What got Seattle's switch-hitting shortstop prospect this far is hard work.
The shortstop went 4-for-4 with a homer, three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk in the Double-A Jackson Generals' 7-0 blanking of the Chattanooga Lookouts on Sunday.
"I just think extra hitting practice ended up helping the team," said Franklin who, after homering and singling in his final two at-bats in Saturday's 6-5 win over Chattanooga, has reached base in each of his last seven plate appearances.
"I always take extra swings in the cage and on the field. I've always done that throughout my whole life. Just the fact that hitting is a hard part of the game, to get better and succeed you have to practice more."
Batting from the left side of the plate, MLB.com's No. 46 prospect slugged Matt Magill's 1-1 fastball over the right-field wall in the first inning for a two-run homer. In the third, Franklin -- getting his 10th start of the year at second base -- pulled a 2-0 pitch from McGill down the first-base line for a leadoff single.
The Florida native then plated Joseph Dunigan with a two-out RBI single back up the middle in the fourth frame and he slapped a base hit to right field for his fourth hit of the game in the sixth. Seattle's No. 3 prospect drew a free pass to begin the top of the ninth, he advanced to second base on Denny Almonte's single and he scored on Chih-Hsien Chiang's two-RBI hit.
"We had a leadoff walk [to start the game] and I was thinking that [Magill] was a little out of control, so I was just waiting for him to throw me a strike," Franklin said of his fourth homer of the season. "I was trying to be patient. It was just an inside fastball, so I sat back and reacted to it."
The 21-year-old is batting a league-best .345 with 25 RBIs in 45 Southern League games. He has recorded 24 extra-base hits and scored 20 runs for the Generals, and his .560 slugging percentage ranks first among all Southern League players. Over his last 10 games, Franklin is hitting .400 (16-for-40) with two homers, two triples, four doubles and eight RBIs.
Franklin's offense gave Jackson starter Danny Hultzen (6-3) more than enough run support.
MLB's No. 13 prospect scattered two hits and three walks while striking out six batters over 5 2/3 innings. Yoervis Medina followed with three punchouts and a walk over 2 1/3 hitless innings, and Brian Moran worked a perfect ninth inning to seal the shutout.
In 11 starts since being selected with the second overall pick in last summer's Draft, Hultzen tops the league with a 1.44 ERA over 62 1/3 innings. His 67 strikeouts rank second only to opposing starter Magill (71). In his last five outings, left-hander Hultzen is 4-0, having allowed two runs on 17 hits over 31 2/3 innings.
"It's a great feeling," Franklin said of playing alongside Hultzen. "He's a great guy and he does a great job. He controls the zone and he's really professional on the field. He gets ahead in the count and there are no long periods or short periods. He works at an easy pace.
"We've got great pitching here in general. Taijuan Walker did a great job yesterday and I think in the future this pitching staff will be a great one. The sky is the limit. I think anything is possible."
Selected by Seattle 27th overall in the 2009 Draft out of Lake Brantley High School in Florida, Franklin is getting his second look at Double-A pitching. He hit .325 in 21 Southern League games at the end of 2011 in his third year of pro ball.
On Sunday, Magill (5-3) allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out five batters in the loss and saw his ERA rise to 3.72.