Nick Franklin: The Seattle Streak?

On the surface, the question of whether or not Mariners prospect Nick Franklin fits in Seattle’s future given the .555 OPS of incumbent shortstop Brendan Ryan seems a bit silly. Yes, Ryan is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, but the Mariners and their team 87 wRC+ are in desperate need of offensive help all over the diamond. Cue Nick Franklin and his .278/.347/.453 triple slash line as a 21-year old in double and Triple-A. On paper, this presents as a perfect opportunity for the Mariners organization to upgrade internally to a young, cost-controlled shortstop with pop.

However, the storybook ending is far from guaranteed given Franklin’s perceived defensive limitations. Having recently ranked the current shortstop as the best second base prospect scouted in person during the 2012 season, include me on the list of prospect writers who openly question his ability to stick. Add to this my really being impressed with Double-A shortstop Brad Miller and Franklin may find himself battling Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager for playing time at second or third base.

Video after the jump

Franklin began the weekend festivities as badly as one could. His first two plate appearances against former first round pick Aaron Miller (Dodgers) resulted in strikeouts in which Franklin repeatedly flailed wildly from the right side missing breaking pitches by a foot or more. So horrific were Franklin’s first two at bats, the switch hitter opted for a lefty-lefty duel which ended in yet another strikeout in which he appeared overmatched.

In fairness to Franklin, a long night of travel to Chattanooga after a double-header the day before would throw any player off. However, the narrative of Franklin being the best hitting prospect in an organization with serious offensive woes was writing itself before my eyes. Like a bad car accident, I could not look away. My piece on Franklin was going deflate Mariners fans waiting for the former first round pick to displace Brendan Ryan. I could already envision Dave Cameron, fists clenched, screaming “WHYYYYYYY!” from his roof in Winston-Salem. Jeff Sullivan wasn’t even writing for FanGraphs yet, but he’d be drowning in sorrow as well.

Then, Nick Franklin turned the page. With a single swing of the bat, his towering home run to right field off of a letter high fastball provided a glimpse as to what Franklin was capable of. Little did I know it was the start of what would turn out to be the most impressive string of plate appearances I’ve seen in person. Instead of writing about them, let’s just post the results.

Single to LF
Home Run to RF
Single to RF
Single to CF
Single to RF
Walk

Including the home run to start the streak, Franklin’s run of seven consecutive at bats reaching base was nothing short of spectacular. Not only were the results remarkable, but Franklin showed the ability to work deep counts, fight off tough pitches and take advantage of mistakes. He’s not as good, or bad offensively as the peaks and valleys of my two game look, but I came away impressed by his performance.

Defensively, Franklin wasn’t tested as he tallied only one assist at second base across 18 innings. However, I did watch quite a bit of him between innings and perceived him as an average athlete with limited arm strength. I ran these initial opinions past a contact who agreed with my assessment and projected him as a second baseman at the major league level.

One scout in attendance compared Nick Franklin to Adam Kennedy, a player who has strung together a 14-year career of 20+ WAR results. Through Kennedy’s peak years (2002-2005), he averaged 3.25 WAR/season combining strong defensive metrics with offensive numbers just a touch over league average. The comp isn’t perfect on paper as Franklin is likely to both produce better power and strikeout more, but the gist of this comp is understood. Nick Franklin has the skill set of a player who should spend many years contributing in some capacity at the game’s highest level. For any prospect, that’s extremely high praise.




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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


31 Responses to “Nick Franklin: The Seattle Streak?”

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  1. Michael Barr says:

    Mike – you get the sense that 6′ 1″ 185 is kind of stretching it with his listed size? He looks small. Maybe the catcher is just a giant.

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  2. LuckyStrikes says:

    This is good news. Franklin was one of two (Gyorko) I hung onto in Ottoneu this season because of your early scouting reports. All other prospects were traded away in exchange for a championship, but I may have a long road back to the top. Thankfully, I also picked up a cheap Brad Miller, so looking forward to seeing my Clemson brethren in SEA sometime soon.
    Who do you see as the better offensive player between Miller and Franklin?

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    • LuckyStrikes says:

      …and to piggyback on this, where does Stefen Romero fit in in SEA with Miller and Franklin coming through, and with Ackley at 1B, Seager at 3B?

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      • Spike says:

        where it fits is that the M’s appear to be loaded with quality young MIers… methinks they are ripe to pull off a deal for a corner OFer or 1Bman using that depth…

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      • Mike Newman says:

        I included Romero on my 1B list at #2. Franklin was the top 2B, Zunino the top C, and Miller will be ranked prominently as a SS as well. I don’t think any of these guys other than Zunino are elite prospects, but it’s a deep group.

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      • Spike says:

        did you get to see any of Jack Marder? ahh, he’s out west so prob not… he could be another 2B candidate. Not sure how much of his bat was just Cal League mirage…

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      • Mike Newman says:

        I’ll probably get Marder next season.

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  3. Spike says:

    I think the Kennedy comp severely undersells Franklin. I think you wanted to use that comp but actually talked yourself into the reality that he’s likely to be significantly better than that, but oddly the comp stayed. I think he could be closer to a Jose Vidro or Carlos Guillen offensively in a couple of years.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      No, I actually think you wind up trading some power for defense and the WAR total balances out.

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      • Spike says:

        there’s no reason to think his defense won’t improve… heck I don’t think he’s bad now and being that he’s already pretty polished and a good athlete, I’d be surprised if he didn’t become a + fielding 2Bman.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Not really saying he won’t improve, but Kennedy’s UZR/150 in his peak years was +48.7 from 2002-2005. On paper, he was the elite second base defender in the game during that time period and produced 39 million in WAR value.

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      • Spike says:

        then it’s just an odd comp bc Franklin profiles as a much different kind of player than Kennedy if he reaches anything close to his ceiling, imho.

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      • Choo says:

        The physique, swing path and early one-handed follow through are all reminiscent of Adam Kennedy. You could mash up Daniel Murphy, Kelly Johnson, Ben Zobrist, Neil Walker, Dustin Ackley along with Kennedy to come up with something more comparable, but not literally. That would be illegal.

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    • Cliff says:

      I think youre looking at the comparison all wrong. If Franklin turns into an above average regular that’s in the league for a decade or more, I think that would be hitting his ceiling. I’ve been discussing this amongst other baseball nerds like myself, and we all said the same sorta thing. The increase in popularity of fantasy baseball, especially dynasty leagues(for which baseball is suited best), more and more people have become interested in researching prospects. Couple that with the advancement of sites such as FG that focus on metrics and advanced statistical data, and the overall attention paid to prospects has grown substantially in recent years. Moreover, in order to get people hooked, every player has this unknown “ceiling” that has become the most overused phrase in baseball IMO. Just because someone is listed in a top 100 prospect list, doesn’t mean they profile to be a perennial all-star. Maybe I’m wrong, but from what I understand, maybe the top 10-15 prospects are considered potentially elite. If that. Franklin has been ranked all over the place from the lists I’ve seen. As high as top 20, and as low as 70-80. For the most par though, he’s around 40-60. I think if he moved to 2B, it might bump his value slightly, but what I’m trying to get at here is that I feel there’s a common misconception that all top prospects are expected to be studs in the bigs. If you take the guys listed from 40-60 on a given list, I think most scouts would tell you that if even 50% of them became average regulars in the bigs, that would be more than usual. Maybe 1-2 of them become studs and if it’s 4-5, it’s prolly because there were several injured guys or very young guys that turned out to be better than first thought. I think if Franklin hit .270-.275 with 15-20 HR, and 10-15 SB, that’d be considered a resounding success by the Mariners FO. Not everyone is Robinson Cano.

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      • Spike says:

        was this directed at me? I didn’t say Cano as a comp. I said maybe Vidro or Guillen. and btw, I’m going primarily by the few times I saw Franklin, not by lists. Also in his favor is that he’s been young for every league he’s been in. To me, he’s just one of the better more polished IF prospects in the game now. That doesn’t mean I think he’s going to be a perennial AS, but that is not to say that he couldn’t be.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        This was spectacular Cliff. I could not agree with you more.

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  4. short says:

    If the M’s had a great package offered to them right now in exchange for any one of Ackley, Franklin, Miller or Romero…who should they trade?
    To me it seems to come down to Ackley or Franklin as they both project to be good-hitting, decent-fielding second basemen. By the trade deadline next year this is a choice the M’s may be making. I think that’s the timespan Ackley has to show improvement if Franklin, Miller and Romero continue their progress.

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    • Choo says:

      I think you answered you own question. A great package right now is probably out of the question, but give Ackley a chance to rebuild his swing and play healthy, and give the younger guys a chance to force the M’s hand in either direction. I would add Seager’s name to the list of movable parts as well.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Of Mariners prospects, only Walker has the ability to bring back a bat with impact potential.

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      • Stinky says:

        Zunino? not that they are dealing either of those guys anyway… in any case, the M’s could certainly put together a very good package to get a bat. There is certainly a surplus of IFers that isn’t very far away.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Zunino can’t be dealt for a year after signing. He does not count.

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      • Stinky says:

        didn’t think you were referring to the fact that Zunino cannot be dealt “officially.” of course he can be dealt, just as a ptbnl.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Stinky,

        Name me a player, any player, who was dealt as a PTBNL after being drafted 7 months before their names can be included. The longest wait I can think of for a traded draft pick was the month or so for Skaggs during the Haren trade. Just because it CAN happen, doesn’t mean any other organization will wait that long. There’s a big difference there.

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      • Stinky says:

        MIke,
        not sure why, but this has gone totally off-topic. I thought the debate point was whether or not the M’s had prospects they could package together to bring back a 1Bman or corner OFer. Whether or not one prospect alone could yield something is irrelevant if a package of players could get it done.

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  5. richardj says:

    I noticed in the first part of the video, he was really only swinging with one hand. Then, he kept both hands on the bat through the ball before finishing with a Charlie Lau like follow through. I bet that made a HUGE difference.

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  6. Mike says:

    Thanks for the writeup on Franklin.

    It seems like the M’s have a logjam at second base. I would like to see Seager move to second and the M’s go after a third baseman in the offseason like David Wright or maybe Rendon. I would assume that Ackley will end up in the outfield or first base. Franklin would probably have to be a utility player or maybe part of a package that brings a guy like Wright or Rendon to the M’s.

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    • Bookbook says:

      Mike, essentially you’re arguing that the M’s will find a better bat to play 3b, than 1b or OF. That strikes me as illogical. Or do you feel that Ackley’s bat will develop that much better if he moves off 2b, where his defense has been fine?

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  7. Dale says:

    BDNF ALL DAY, AIR DAY

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  8. topher says:

    Exciting time to be an M’s fan after all of the misery. thx Jack Z

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