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Maikel Franco ready for Philadelphia Phillies' preview

Franco has hit 49 home runs since the start of the 2012 season.
Franco has hit 49 home runs since the start of the 2012 season.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

When Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Ryne Sandberg both say that Maikel Franco might be ready for prime time, then it's reasonable to think that this Philadelphia Phillies' top infield prospect is about to be called up. Cody Asche's injury and subsequent disabled list stint just might enable a preview of this next-generation potential core player.

Franco had a terrific season with the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils last year. But, that hardly meant that he would be guaranteed a big league shot. Despite spring training talk, Franco was never really in the running to supplant Asche at Mike Schmidt's old position.

After getting off to a slow start this season in Triple-A, it seemed like the 21-year-old emerging slugger was going to wait for a potential September call up before putting on red pinstripes. However, Franco's bat has been hot in May and that surely helps his immediate cause.

Baseball, more than any other professional sport, is a real grind. Playing 162 regular season games necessitates use of every team's farm system. Asche, who looked much better recently at the plate, strained his left hamstring and went on the DL Sunday. Reliever Justin De Fratus took his roster spot for the moment.

Franco's power surge last season caused the Phillies to test the natural third base man at first base in order to expand future options. He's played 10 games at first this season, but he's worn a third baseman's glove 381 times during a 400-game professional career that started in the Gulf League circa 2010.

A young right-handed bopper, who hasn't demonstrated the greatest fielding abilities to-date, is likely to earn an extended opportunity in Philadelphia at some point. Considering the situation Amaro's sub-.500 team finds itself in again this spring, it wouldn't hurt to give Franco a chance to play for a few weeks while Asche is out of action. This would be another way to continue a roster transition into the next Phillies' era, because clearly the 2007-2011 playoff run represents yesterday.

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