Nick Franklin's Season Ends (2)

Q.  How tough were the pitchers, really?

A.  On a visceral level, you've got to think of Franklin as being a high school player taking on major leaguers.

The biggest jump in baseball, by a long ways, is the one between A+ and AA baseball.  Class A+ baseball is the low minors, but AA baseball can and does feature pitchers who would do fine in the American League.

We remember Mark Langston coming straight up from AA and being one of the best pitchers in the major leagues from his very first start -- in other words, when AA baseball had Langston in it, it had an MLB All-Star in the league.   You remember Mark Lowe jumping from AA.  A bunch of others.  Happens all the time.


Against the Smokies, you're talking about the best AA pitchers, and at the tops of their games.  A tough weekend against them does not at all imply that the kid couldn't hit April AA pitching against a more mixed group.

In contrast to the semi-fringe-ML pitching the Smokies had going, Nick Franklin is literally teenaged and was playing high school baseball just very recently.  Only the Griffey types are usually even asked to try.


Q.  By the way, how does a 19-year-old (like Junior) hit ML-type pitching, with located curve balls and precision fastballs and deception and all that stuff?

A.  Because he's super quick to the ball, much quicker than other pro hitters.

Those youngsters have snake-tongue bats, and they just see ball, hit ball, and kind of overcome the confusion that way.

The third game, it looks like maybe Franklin got away from see ball - hit ball and started trying to think with Muschko?  If so, nada.  The pitch recognition can't possibly be there.

Junior didn't know what pitchers were throwing in 1989.  For three years, he just saw ball and hit ball.  If Franklin were to play AA baseball, we'd assume that's what he'd have to do too.  Of course, you don't get 40 homers when you're fighting a rearguard action.


This is part of the reason that Jose Lopez was so awesome at age 20 in the PCL:  he was hitting like a 19-year-old Junior, just reacting to the ball and taking advantage of his incredible reflexes. ... unfortunately, Jose has so far chosen not to adapt his game to take advantage of his experience.  He should be using his pitch recognition now to load up on more balls.



Q.  So, at 19, Franklin had a historic Midwest League season.  Then you saw what he did in three elite AA games.  Would SSI's guess be that he could start in AA next year?

A.  The three AA games were a push to me.  If anything, I'd say he held his own fine in those three games.

There's nothing weird about a very talented 20-year-old taking on AA baseball.  Jose Lopez slugged .505 even in AAA at age 20.  But, of course, that was in part because of his minimalized plate approach.

But we've got to acknowledge that A+ baseball, at 20, is plenty fast-track enough.  Shin-Soo Choo, for example, played A+ at 20, AA at 21, and was a 120 OPS+ hitter in the American League at age 23.  That's way fast track.


Objectively speaking, Franklin's ambitious hitting style would indicate that he's the type of hitter who could use a second year of pitch recognition in A+ before taking on the high-minors and fringe ML pitchers.

Franklin isn't a see-ball, hit-ball player.  ... of course, Junior chose to become one temporarily, when the situation demanded it.  Perhaps Franklin is that savvy.  If so, I'd say no problemo.

But, hey.  Maybe Franklin's really that talented anyway.  If he hit AA pitchers next year, with that swing, you'd really be talking about a monster.



Dr D



... we notice that the Cubs have him starting.
He performed beautifully for the Smokies:  7.2k, 2.8bb, 0.6hr with a 3.27 ERA.  We're guessing he wasn't allowed to face the Jaxx for fear of Nick Franklin's lefty swing.....
Can you imagine the Mariners letting a sidearmer start?

John's picture

He could have also been Joe College at Auburn this year with 3 years of an Aluminum bat that would have retarded his development.  We are talking about wood bats and a kid that ended the season at 160 lbs soaking wet.  Wait til the strength comes to play a longer season.  This is a kid that wants to win. This was the right move for the Mariners.  Now he goes into the winter and knows that he has to get at it again. 

Marc's picture

He wasn't allowed to face tha Jaxx because he's already in AAA.  He beat Tacoma back in early august.
Quite a rapid rise for ABD in the Cubs org....


Kidding about being held out, of course, but thanx for the catch Marc.  


Christopher Carpenter , groundballing RH and 11/2009 #8 prospect for the Cubs per Baseball America (#7 pre-season by Sickels).

Trey McNutt & Marco Carillo - McNutt demolished A and A+ this year on his way to AA. 116 IP, 93 hits, 132K/37BB, all levels. Carillo is a 9K reliever.

Craig Mushko - Franklin was 3 of his 4 Ks.  Ran basically a 4:1 K:BB ratio during the season (103/27 in 143.1 IP) so he knows exactly where the ball is going and has "pitchability."

Franklin did fine hitting over his head against at least a couple of guys who are gonna see the bigs.


John's picture

I read where he started season at 180 but lost 20 lbs..10 in spring training when he got sick and 10 during the season.  Strength plus the fact that he knows how to rotate his body.  He is only 19 and could still be growing>
185-190 would be good.

Anonymous's picture

Franklin is very impressive.  Baseball America (Connor Glassey) wrote in 2009 that he was a part of history making in Sebring, Florida which is was MVP.  This year, he broke a 49 year franchise Home run record and is the homerun king of the Midwest.  Franklin quoted in a recent article ‘you don’t have to be big to hit homeruns’.  FINALLY! A Natural baseball player not worrying about how big they should be.
What an accomplishment for a 19 year old.  And to also be the first professional player to hit 20-20-20.  Some recent articles were comparing his power to a history of 19 year olds, they came up with Prince Fielder.  
He did a decent job in AA at the end of this year.  He was batting .308 before the last playoff game at the Smokies home.  Several Jaxx guys seemed to struggle. Traveling 1200 miles in four days might have something to do with that. 
I like Players that make history and break records.  That's what it's all about.  Franklin's my rookie of the year.

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