- Full name Juan Ramon Francisco
- Born 06/24/1987 in Bonao, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 245 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- Debut 09/14/2009
Organization Prospect Rankings
Francisco was a surprise addition to the Reds' Opening Day roster in 2010. His stay lasted only a week and he missed two months in Triple-A following an appendectomy, but he spent much of the final two months of the season in Cincinnati and made the postseason roster. Francisco has the best raw power in the system and destroys balls when he squares them up. He'll never be selective at the plate, but he gradually has improved his approach and now works counts. His swing has several moving parts, with a waggle and a toe-tap timing mechanicism, but he has shortened his stroke. He has struggled throughout his career to hit lefties, who limited him to a .216 average last year. Francisco has 30-plus homer potential but needs to find a defensive home. He has below-average range at third base, though his plus-plus arm makes up for some of his deficiencies. First base isn't an option because of Joey Votto and Yonder Alonso, and Francisco's well below-average speed doesn't play well in left field. Francisco needs to stay in shape to continue to be an option at third base, where he's currently blocked by Scott Rolen. He may need a trade to get regular big league playing time in the near future.
Francisco gave the big league team a taste of his prodigious power in its preseason exhibition, crushing a Francisco Cordero fastball and clearing the visitor's clubhouse that sits beyond right field at Carolina's ballpark. Francisco has led the Reds system in home runs in each of the past two seasons. Francisco has plenty of strength and his hands work well at the plate. He can turn on most any fastball and his long arms not only generate excellent leverage, but they also let him reach pitches outside of the zone. He also has one of the strongest arms in the organization and has more athleticism than is readily apparent. Francisco still strikes out too much, though he has made more consistent contact the last two years. He has problems recognizing changeups and almost refuses to be walked. He showed improvement in his range at third base, but it's still below-average, as are his hands and speed. Francisco's best position may be first base, but that position is blocked by Joey Votto and Yonder Alonso. Third base currently belongs to Scott Rolen, so Francisco will spend 2010 in Triple-A, and he may see more time in left field.
Johnny Cueto's emergence was the Reds' first significant Latin American success story since Mario Soto starred in the early 1980s. Next in line is Francisco, who led the Midwest League with 25 homers in 2007 and Cincinnati farmhands with 23 in 2008. He appeared in the Futures Game last year, wowing observers with his power during batting practice. Francisco's game is all about power, and he can drive the ball out of any part of any park. He has a quick bat and his long arms give him tremendous leverage. He also owns a strong arm that rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Though he's expected to outgrow third base, he does have a solid first step and decent speed. Francisco has a long stroke that isn't conducive to consistent contact. His plate discipline is poor and he gives away too many at-bats by being overly aggressive. Scouts are worried that he could grow to Dmitri Young proportions if he doesn't stay on top of his conditioning. His range already is below average at third base, and he'll probably wind up at first base rather than the outfield. The Reds eventually will have to sort through all their third-base candidates, but for now, Francisco appears headed to Double-A to man the hot corner. They're worried less about his defense and more with him learning to lay off pitches out of the strike zone.
One of the products of the Reds' renewed emphasis in pursuing Latin American talent, Francisco led the Midwest League with 25 homers. A temporary requirement that he choke up on the bat helped improve his bat control, and he hit 10 homers in the final month. Francisco has long arms that generate exceptional leverage and raw power that compares with that of Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. He also has the system's best infield arm, a cannon that allows him to turn infield hits into outs. He also has good first-step quickness and is an average to slightly above-average runner. When pitchers don't challenge Francisco, he's so aggressive that he'll get himself out by chasing pitches out of the zone. He'll have to cut down on his strikeouts to keep his average up as he faces more advanced pitching. As he fills out, he'll lose some of his speed and will have to watch his weight if he's to remain at third base. Francisco is developing nicely and will head to high Class A at age 20. The Reds are shaping up to have a logjam at the hot corner, with Edwin Encarnacion in the majors and Todd Frazier, Francisco and Pioneer League home run champ Brandon Waring in the minors.
The Reds' minor league depth at third base is pretty thin, which isn't much of a concern since Edwin Encarnacion has the job locked up for the next several years. Just about the time that Encarnacion nears free agency, Francisco could be ready to replace him. Francisco has a plus arm that's strong and accurate and good athleticism at third base. For a 19-year-old in his first season in the U.S., Francisco showed a very advanced approach at the plate with a smooth lefty swing and strong hands that allow scouts to project him to hit for plus power. He shows the ability to drive outside pitches to the opposite field and shows solid pitch recognition. His bat is his best tool, but his defense could also be above average. His only present below-average tool is his speed. He's a long ways away from the majors, but he already has a solid frame. He should be one of the cornerstones of the Dayton team in 2007.
Minor League Top Prospects
Francisco was one of the few players who could induce opponents to wander out into the muggy Florida afternoon heat just to see him take batting practice. With some of the best raw power in the minors, he was capable of making baseballs disappear. He's also owner of one of the least discerning batting eyes in the minors--he has walked just 62 times in 1,426 minor league at-bats. While Francisco will have to learn to lay off more pitches as he climbs the ladder, pitchers haven't been able to take advantage of his free-swinging ways. He actually cut his strikeout rate this year by working more counts. He's a nightmare for pitchers because he'll make contact even when they're trying to pitch around him, and his strength allows him to turn checked swings and mis-hits into balls that bounce off the wall. Francisco is already a big man and he's likely to keep getting bigger, so he projects to move off the hot corner as he adds weight. The Reds put him in left field for three games late in the season, and he showed some aptitude for the position. He had a plus-plus arm and runs pretty well for his size, so he could end up in right field.
After hitting just three homers in Rookie ball last year, Francisco won the MWL home run crown with 25, including 10 in the final month. In a league full of young power hitters, scouts and managers thought Francisco had the most raw pop of any of them. "He swings the bat with a lot of authority," Great Lakes manager Lance Parrish said. "He has a lot of potential and it's not too far in the future. He'll be leading every league he's in in home runs and he'll be an all-star." Francisco offers incredible pull power from the left side, though he needs to tone down his aggression and tighten his strike zone after fanning 161 times and walking only 23 in 135 games. He has a long swing and tends to chase balls in the dirt, but he's also just 20. He has enough arm and mobility to stay at third base, though he'll have to watch his weight to do so.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the International League in 2011
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Cincinnati Reds in 2011
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Cincinnati Reds in 2011
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Cincinnati Reds in 2010
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Cincinnati Reds in 2010
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Cincinnati Reds in 2009
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Cincinnati Reds in 2009
- Rated Best Power Prospect in the Florida State League in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive 3B in the Florida State League in 2008
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Cincinnati Reds in 2008
- Rated Best Power Prospect in the Midwest League in 2007
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Cincinnati Reds in 2007