Top prospect Maikel Franco was called up earlier today, and will play third base and bat fifth.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr.: "This was a baseball decision based on Maikel's development and performance. We believe he is ready for the next step."— Phillies (@Phillies) May 15, 2015
Despite a meager slash line of .179/.190/.214 and a wRC+ of 6 during a September call-up in 2014, there are still high hopes for Franco. In 33 games at AAA, he posted a wRC+ of 169, and a wOBA of .421. On the 20-80 scale, Franco rates as a 60/60 for raw power, and a 55 for overall future value. He's one of the Phillies few legitimate prospects, and will play third base everyday moving forward.
The way in which he was promoted however bears a striking resemblance to how Kris Bryant was dealt with. There was 24/7 coverage about how the Cubs were gaming the system, and exploiting a clause in the CBA about service time. But the Phillies largely avoided any controversy about that in regards to Franco; even though they did the same thing.
While he made his debut in 2014, the Phillies held Franco down in the minors to further his development. His 16-game stint in 2014, and poor spring training helped back-up that narrative and disguise what the Phillies were really doing. As of today, there are just 144 days left in the MLB season; and coincidentally, Franco needs 145 more days of service time to qualify for a full year. Just like Bryant, Franco's impending free agency will now be delayed by a full season.
The Phillies aren't playing for anything in 2015, and even if Franco struggles, they'll likely let him play through it to further his development as a baseball player. In 30 games, the Phillies contingent of third baseman posted an average wRC+ of 87.66 and a cumulative fWAR of -0.1. Franco on the other hand is projected for a wRC+ of 94 and an fWAR of 1.4 (on the 550 PA scale). While his BB% of 5.3% and K% of 16.6% is less than desired, it's something he and the Phillies can work on during the remainder of the season.