Minor League Roundup: Franc-ly Speaking

Today’s update features a look at Maikel Franco, more of the same from Gregory Polanco and Mookie Betts, a great day from Mac Williamson and an under-the-radar Dodgers reliever getting some burn.


Maikel Franco (Photo by Cliff Welch).

Maikel Franco (Photo by Cliff Welch).

Maikel Franco, 3b, Lehigh Valley: It’s been a rough go of it so far at Triple-A for Franco, who is hitting just .184. It’s been posited that part of his problem is the cold weather in the Northeast in April, which can’t help, but almost certainly isn’t the entire problem. Here’s what a scout who’s gotten a recent look at Franco had to say:

“He’s a little bit overmatched up at the plate, not in the field. He’s looking pretty good in the field. For a guy who can’t run, he’s got a really quick first step, he’s got good reactions, he’s quick coming in on balls and running through the ball and making plus throws, accurate throws. He profiles at the position, really, to me, as a future All-Star.

“Still being young, he’s got a lot of power. The problem with him right now is he’s pull-happy to left field. You can’t keep trying to pull those sliders at this level and above. He’s got to try to identify the pitch, No. 1, and No. 2 create a better angle, a better bat angle, to the angle of the ball. Once he gets recognition of that particular pitch and can take a better bat angle to the angle of the ball, he’s going to be fine. He’s got bat speed and he’s got bat strength.” 

Gregory Polanco, of, Indianapolis: Pirates fans are just itching to bust out their new outfielder, and he’s not making it easy for them to be patient. On Thursday, the mega-prospect finished a triple short of the cycle, scored three times, drove in two runs and stole his fourth base. Nearly a month into the season, Polanco is hitting .420/.460/.679, and Pittsburgh fans are champing at the bit for their team to entrench him in an outfield with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte.




Joe Panik, 2b, Fresno: The St. John’s alum could always play defense, but there were questions about his ability to hit. He’s answered those questions over the first month of the season. Panik collected two hits on Thursday, including his first longball of the season, and also drew a walk. He’s up to .317/.376/.390 for the season, and has whiffed just 12 times in 94 plate appearances.


Francisco Lindor, ss, Akron: He plays spectacular defense, and on Thursday collected three hits, including a triple, in the Rubberducks’ win early-morning over Trenton. He’s not blowing the doors off of anyone offensively, but he’s 20 and in Double-A, and still projects to be a star.

Mookie Betts, 2b, Portland: He reached base for the 46th straight game. You can set your watch to Mookie Betts getting on base. If you need help doing so, this friendly fellow from across the pond can help.


Micah Johnson, 2b, Birmingham: What a week for Johnson, who, as a second baseman, has the misfortune of being in the same organization with Marcus Semien. Johnson collected three more hits on Thursday, including his third home run of the season. He’s slashing a gaudy .358/.453/.543 and is among the top five in the Southern League in all three categories. He has plus-plus speed and profiles as a true leadoff man at the highest level.


Cristhian Adames, ss, Tulsa: A switch-hitter who is historically better from the right side, Adames makes steady contact from both sides of the plate and projects as a utility player in the big leagues. He was 3-for-5 on Thursday with his second triple of the year, and raised his slash line to .311/.375/.429.


Mac Williamson, of, San Jose: Williamson, the top offensive prospect in San Francisco’s system, was 5-for-5 on Thursday, including two doubles, scored three times and drove home two runs. He’s repeating high Class A, so it probably should be expected that he’s slashing .312/.418/.519 as a veteran of the hitter-friendly Cal League.

Jesse Winker, of, Bakersfield: Unfortunately, there is no good news to report here. Winker ran into a wall on Thursday while chasing a fly ball that turned into an inside-the-park home run and had to be removed from the game.


Steven Matz

Steven Matz (Photo by Tom Priddy)

Steve Matz, lhp, St. Lucie: It’s been long road for Matz, who missed the 2010 and 2011 seasons after having Tommy John surgery. He whiffed 121 against 38 walks last season in low Class A Savannah, and rung up six in 5 2/3 scoreless innings on Thursday. He sits between 93-94 and can touch 96 with his four-seam fastball, and also offers a two-seamer in the low-90s, as well as a plus changeup and curveball.


Tim Anderson, ss, Winston-Salem: Thursday showcased the good and the bad parts of Anderson’s game. He’s got electric tools across the board, but there are certainly rough edges. He collected two hits against Potomac, including his fourth triple of the year, and stole two bases, including home. He also committed his 10th error of the season. As athletic as he is, evaluators have serious questions about whether he’ll stick at shortstop.


David Dahl, of, Asheville: Finally, an Asheville player on this list other than Ryan McMahon. Dahl, the highest touted prospect on the team with the deepest tool set, went 3-for-5 with a double on Thursday night and also stole his fifth and sixth bags of the year. Dahl, who is working to make up for the time he missed last year, could move to Modesto at midseason if he performs like the Rockies believe he will.


Victor Araujo, rhp, Great Lakes: Look out for this 18-year-old reliever. He pitched two innings yesterday for the Loons, striking out four and allowing one hit. It was just his second appearance of the year, but he’s already caught the eyes of evaluators. What they’ve noticed is a fastball that’s already up to 92 miles per hour and a feel for a curveball, slider and changeup.