No Room For Francisco

Indians outfielder Ben Francisco looks like he’s headed back to Triple-A Buffalo to start the 2008 season, according to Baseball America correspondent Andy Call. With Grady Sizemore in center field, Franklin Gutierrez in right field and the platoon of Jason Michaels and David Dellucci in left, the Indians appear to be content with those four outfielders to start the season. That means Francisco, who led the Triple-A International League with a .318 average and finished with a .318/.382/.496 line with Buffalo last year, should head back to Triple-A at age 26.

"Triple-A is a tough level," Manager Eric Wedge said. "Most people are not happy to be there. But time in the minor leagues is important time. It’s time you don’t scoff at. It’s time to develop as a player — something that’s tough to do at the big-league level."

Wedge did say Francisco is at "the top of the list" of outfielders who would be called up if needed. He also said there are areas of Francisco’s game that can be improved.

"He can get a better feel for learning how to steal bases, and he can get better in left and right field, because he’s always been most comfortable in center field," Wedge said. "But I believe all those things are going to come for him with repetition."

Francisco, the No. 9 prospect in the Indians organization, has played the last two seasons in Triple-A. He hit .278/.345/.454 for the Bisons in 2006, and despite a solid year last season he remains blocked at the big league level.