Mariners middle infield prospect Nick Franklin hit the first 2 home runs of his big league career Thursday against the San Diego Padres. Franklin was ranked the number 47 prospect in baseball by MLB.com coming into the 2013 season. He was called up on Monday to replace the struggling Dustin Ackley at second base.
In 39 games this year in Triple-A Tacoma, Franklin had a .324 batting average with 4 home runs, 28 runs, 20 RBI and 7 stolen bases. Franklin also held a .912 OPS on the season with 30 walks and 9 doubles.
These stats were more than enough for the Mariners to pull the trigger and bring the 22-year-old up to the majors. Yet some are pessimistic that he can produce numbers anywhere close to these in the majors because of what some call the “PCL effect.”
The Mariners Triple-A organization, the Tacoma Rainiers, play in the Pacific Coast League. The PCL is filled with ballparks that heavily favor hitters, so it’s generally believed that PCL batters have inflated numbers.
Dustin Ackley, who was sent down in Franklin’s favor, is a prime example of what coaches are afraid with the “PCL effect.” During the 2011 season, Ackley was batting .303 with 9 home runs in 66 games in the PCL before being called up to the majors. During his past two MLB seasons combined, Ackley has a batting average of .221 and has only hit 13 home runs.
Nick Franklin will obviously look to prove this stereotype wrong and hit well at the major league level. He blasted 2 home runs yesterday at Petco Park in San Diego, which gives you faith that he can at least hit for power on the road.
Safeco Park in Seattle is not an easy park to hit a home run ranking 27th in the MLB in home runs. It will be interesting to see what he can do when the team returns to Seattle for a 10 game home stand next Monday.
While Franklin is not a brute power guy, his plate discipline and considerable speed is what makes him truly intriguing. His patience at the plate is very impressive for a young player after managing 30 walks in only 39 games in the minors.
If he can walk, keep a decent batting average and keep the strikeout numbers down, Franklin can be very successful.
He has the potential to be a 20-20 kind of guy that will score plenty of runs. He’s eligible at shortstop right now, but should gain eligibility at second base as well as he fills in at both positions. These are both scarce positions, and Franklin is only owned in 11.1% of fantasy baseball leagues.
Keep an eye on how he hits in the next couple weeks, as he can certainly be an asset to your team this season. He can be a great pickup now, but an even better draft pick next year if he plays well enough to keep his job with the Mariners.