- Full name Jeffrey William Francis
- Born 01/08/1981 in Vancouver, BC, Canada
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School British Columbia
- Debut 08/25/2004
Drafted in the 1st round (9th overall) by the Colorado Rockies in 2002 (signed for $1,850,000).
View Draft ReportFrancis pitches for the University of British Columbia, the only intercollegiate baseball team in Canada. He had his coming out party last year when he spun 12 shutouts: six in NAIA competition and six more as a member of the Anchorage Bucs of the summer Alaska League. He did so well with the Bucs--he was the league's pitcher and player of the year, and top prospect--that the rival Anchorage Glacier Pilots picked him up for the National Baseball Congress World Series, where he earned MVP honors for working 14 scoreless innings. Francis then headed to the Canada Summer Games and teamed up with Loewen to lead Team B.C. to the championship. Francis is a polished lefty with solid stuff and a projectable body. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder throws from a three-quarters arm slot with a clean, easy stroke and a solid, balanced delivery. He has good command of an 87-93 mph fastball with late movement and an average slurvy breaking pitch. His slider is inconsistent because he tends to drop down a bit on it and push the ball, flattening it out. He projects to go in the middle of the first round after going 7-1, 1.60 with 87 strikeouts in 68 innings this spring.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After finishing 2003 with a 10-1, 1.06 flourish, Francis won BA's Minor League Player of the Year award last season. He led the Double-A Texas League in ERA, adjusted to thin air at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and after a rocky start in the majors, won his last three decisions with Colorado. Francis is a power pitcher without power, along the lines of Sid Fernandez. He possesses pinpoint command of his 86-91 mph fastball and creates a deceptive look for hitters, in part because of the extension he gets in his delivery. He also has the best changeup in the system, and his slider is a solid third pitch. As good as his changeup and slider are, Francis has to be careful to not use them too much. He must remember that his success stems from pitching off his fastball. Francis heads into spring training with a spot all but locked up in the big league rotation. He's a classic example of a pitcher who's much better than his radar-gun readings.
Francis was the ninth player selected in the 2002 draft, making him the second-highest Canadian selection ever. His pro debut was cut short when he sustained a concussion after being hit in the head with a liner while sitting in the Asheville dugout. He struggled to start the 2003 season, but went 10-1, 1.06 in his final 13 starts, including 15 shutout innings in two playoff wins. Francis has excellent command of a solid fastball. He pitches at 90 mph and figures to add velocity as he builds upper-body strength. His curveball is a plus pitch at times. He has fluid mechanics that will allow him to advance quickly. His strong finish highlighted his ability to deal with adversity and move forward. Francis needs more consistency with his curveball. He also is working on his changeup, which will be a critical pitch as he reaches higher levels. Francis will open the 2004 season at Double-A Tulsa. He could follow the paths of righthanders Jason Jennings, Aaron Cook and Chin-Hui Tsao, finishing his first full season above Class A in the majors.
Francis burst onto the prospect scene in the summer of 2001, when he was the player of the year and top prospect in the Alaska League, then threw 14 shutout innings to capture MVP honors and lead the Anchorage Glacier Pilots to the title at the National Baseball Congress World Series. After going ninth overall in the 2002 draft and signing for a prearranged $1.85 million bonus, he had his pro debut cut short when a line drive hit him in the face in the Asheville dugout. Francis has a solid assortment of pitches. He has a low-90s fastball, a slurvy breaking ball that is more slide than curve, and a changeup with the potential to be a plus pitch. He has an easy arm action, above-average command and a good feel for pitching. Most of all, Francis needs to mature physically. With added upperbody strength, he could pitch deeper into games and add velocity. He also must tighten his slurve. Francis returned to the mound during instructional league and showed no aftereffects from his injury. He showed enough in his brief time as a pro to earn the right to start in high Class A this year.
Minor League Top Prospects
At the Futures Game, lefthanded hitters McPherson and San Antonio outfielder Shin-Soo Choo expressed awe at Francis' ability to shackle them with his fastball. For a guy who's not a power pitcher, Francis dominated a hitter's league with the pitch, which was thrown at 90-91 mph but hitters said looked harder. That's because Francis gets excellent extension in his delivery, using his 6-foot-5 frame to make the batter feel as if he was 50 feet away instead of 60. His impeccable command and aggressiveness--including a willingness to pound hitters in on their hands--helped it play well above its average velocity. "He has a solid breaking ball and changeup, but they play up because he can pitch off the fastball alone, to all four quadrants," said a scout with a National League organization. "I saw him three times, and I didn't see anyone get a good swing against him."
Drafted with the ninth overall pick last year, Francis went 2-7, 6.88 in the first two months of the season. He was too tentative and wasn't commanding his fastball in the hitter-friendly Northern Division. But he made an adjustment and emerged as one of the most effective pitchers in the league by going 10-2, 1.83 the rest of the way. "He started trusting his stuff," Cole said. "He was attacking the strike zone rather than trying to making guys mishit." Francis, who spun a no-hitter and a two-hit shutout in July, changes speeds well with a polished changeup and good curveball. His fastball is an average 89-92 mph pitch.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Control in the Colorado Rockies in 2005
- Rated Best Changeup in the Colorado Rockies in 2005
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Texas League in 2004
- Rated Best Control in the Texas League in 2004
- Rated Best Fastball in the Texas League in 2004