Franklin Labour Shows All-Fields Approach
After one month of play for short-season Salem-Keizer, outfielder Franklin Labour had produced so prolifically that farm director Kyle Haines said, "We really can’t expect him to continue at this pace because what he’s done has just been video game-like.”
Video game-like as in 13 home runs in 30 games. As in five homers in a three-game series at Spokane in the beginning of July. As in a preposterous slash line of .325/.417/.725.
The numbers are video game-like, but the 21-year-old, righthanded-hitting Labour’s ability is real.
"He can hit a homer to right-center, right field or left field,” Haines said. "He’s not just up there swinging, and it’s either a home run or a strikeout. He’s just as capable of hitting a line drive single or double the other way as he is of pulling a long home run.”
The Giants signed Labour out of the Dominican Republic as a 17-year-old in 2015. He spent two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and then last year in the Rookie-level Arizona League. His combined totals for those three seasons: seven homers in 510 at-bats.
What explains his power surge?
"His strike-zone awareness is improved,” Salem-Keizer manager Mark Hallberg said. "He’s staying in the zone much better and because of that, when he’s swinging at pitches inside the zone, he’s putting barrels on them—and he’s strong now, so the ball goes out.”
Listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Labour doesn’t have the speed to play center field, but Hallberg and Haines praised his work and arm in right.
Haines said Labour is underrated as a defender. "He can catch everything that needs to be caught,” he said.
Hallberg and Haines also like what Hallberg termed Labour’s "zestful personality.” Haines said Labour’s "energy is contagious.”
Haines and others in the organization contemplated having Labour begin 2019 at low Class A Augusta but thought he would benefit from a season in the Northwest League in much the way Pablo Sandoval did in 2005.
Not that Labour necessarily will finish 2019 with the Volcanoes.
"I don’t think we should close the door on upward mobility when a guy shows that he’s defeated a league,” Haines said.
— Outfielder Hunter Bishop, whom the Giants drafted 10th overall from Arizona State in June, debuted with short-season Salem-Keizer with a 2-for-4 night that included a home run on July 17. First baseman Logan Wyatt, the Giants’ second-round pick from Louisville, also debuted that night. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and a hit by pitch.
— Also on July 17, Logan Webb threw five innings of two-hit, shutout ball in low Class A Augusta’s 4-2 win against Charleston. The righthander is returning from an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Webb began the season with Double-A Richmond.