2016 MLB Preseason Primaries: Maikel Franco

For some, 2016 Spring Training marks the start of a brand new Major League Baseball season. For others, this time of year marks the height of the presidential primary elections. While many pontificate over who is best suited to lead the country, The Sports Fan Journal fam decided to take a look at which player, manager, or front office member is the best candidate to lead their team to the top of the baseball mountain.




The 2015 season was a forgettable one for the Philadelphia Phillies, or perhaps an unforgettably bad one. The team won just 63 games and produced a fourth consecutive losing season, as management has fumbled its way through the transition from the core that won the 2008 World Series, and towards restarting that process from the ground up.

The 2016 campaign will be a parade of young, unproven players as the club evaluates what it has and tries to identify the cornerstones of the next era of Phillies baseball. Thus, enter Maikel Franco.

Franco represents everything the Phillies are about right now: hope and promise. He joined the big league club last May, and quickly worked his way into Rookie of the Year consideration before a broken wrist forced him from the lineup in early August. Prior to the injury, Franco was hitting .280 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in just 80 games.

All indications are that the wrist has healed well, and Franco has gotten off to a hot start this spring, hitting .348 with four home runs in early games. Despite the small sample size of just 80 regular season games and a few weeks of spring training, the numbers are impressive and the talent behind them is undeniable.

Franco has already caught the eye of arguably the best player in the history of the Phillies franchise, Mike Schmidt. Talking to reporters at spring training, Schmidt said, “I think he’s got everything that a young man like that needs to become a great player.” Schmidt, a former MVP, continued, “He’ll be a league MVP at some point…he has that kind of talent.”

In addition to the strong numbers and the high praise from a franchise legend, there is something else that should have the Phillies and their fans excited. The 23-year-old appears to be mature beyond his years. The quotes coming from Franco this spring are indicative of a young man who has his head on straight and are beyond encouraging. He told the AP, “I did a lot of hard work in the minor leagues and I want to keep doing hard work now that I’m here and try to improve every day.” Hearing their young star discussing the importance of hard work, and especially acknowledging that he has to continue to work hard, has to be music to the organization’s ears.

Equally impressive, the youngster has embraced a leadership role in a young and inexperienced clubhouse. “I like to be a good friend with everybody, have good communication with everybody, have fun, enjoy the game and bring energy every day,” Franco said, also to the AP.

That sure sounds like a guy who is ready to be a leader, both vocally and through his actions. Having fun, bringing energy, and working hard will certainly endear him to the Philadelphia fans.

Not much will be expected of the 2016 Phillies, as everyone realizes that this will be a years-long process. The club and the fans alike will be looking at this young team to see who can emerge as centerpieces of another run of success. All eyes will be on Franco to see if he can pick up where he left off and realize the tantalizing potential he has flashed in his short time with the big club.

And so far, anyone with an interest in the Phillies has to be pleased with what they’ve seen and heard.

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