Having a birthday during the season might not be too much fun for a professional baseball player. When you're born between April and September, there's a good chance you'll be subjected to curfews and the quiet bus in lieu of parties.
But athletes also can embrace going to their place of business on their special day. As in the case of Philadelphia's No. 3 prospect Maikel Franco, whose "office" just happens to be the hot corner at Coca-Cola Park.
The 6-foot-1 right-hander celebrated his 22nd birthday by slugging a fifth-inning grand slam in the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs' 5-4 win over the Syracuse Chiefs. It marked the second time in the past two years that he went yard on his natal day.
"That was fun for me," Franco told the (Easton) Express-Times. "I hit one last year on my birthday, and this year coming in, I tried to do the best I can and put good contact on the ball and it flew. I was happy with that."
On his last birthday, MLB.com's No. 57 prospect belted his 30th long ball of the season for Double-A Reading.
This year's shot was Franco's 16th of the season and increased his RBI tally to 75. He's got five homers in his past 10 games, over which time he's batted .435 (17-for-40). It was his first four-RBI game of the year and his third career grand slam.
Franco previously blasted a bases-clearing homer in Reading's 14-5 rout of visiting New Britain last Aug. 11. He first accomplished the feat on June 29, 2012 during Class A Lakewood's 6-1 win over Hagerstown.
Signed by the Phillies as a non-drafted free agent in 2010, the Dominican Republic native is in his fifth year in the Minors and his first in the International League. He had a breakout year in 2013, hitting 31 homers and plating 103 runs across two levels between Class A Advanced Clearwater and Reading.
"I see a pretty talented young man who is improving and getting better," Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage told the Morning Call. "He learned what it's all about the first few months, and now he's swinging at better pitches. His pitch selection at the plate is what it comes down to."
Lehigh Valley's Sean O'Sullivan (6-10) allowed three runs on six hits and four walks while striking out four batters over six innings.
Syracuse's Blake Treinen (8-2) yielded five runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings. He issued four free passes and struck out three batters.