Maikel Franco missed most of the final two months of last season with a fractured wrist. It appears he’s intent on taking that frustration out on Grapefruit League pitchers.
Franco had his second two-homer game of spring training on Monday, taking Yovani Gallardo deep twice. Just four days earlier, the young third baseman took Jordan Zimmermann over the boards on two occasions. Franco has six longballs all told this spring, which is two more than any other Grapefruit or Cactus League player has.
Of course, Franco crushing the ball this spring is no surprise. It’s what the 23-year-old did last season for the Phillies, sporting a nice .280/.343/.497 batting line with 14 home runs and 50 RBI across 335 plate appearances. The third baseman makes a lot of contact for a guy with his kind of raw power, which can be a deadly combination.
It will certainly be exciting to see what Franco can do over his first full major league season. He’s the No. 7 ranked fantasy third baseman in the 2016 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide.
Story on Monday continued to treat the Cactus League like a slow-pitch softball league, tripling off of Felix Hernandez, homering off of Joaquin Benoit, drawing a walk and scoring three runs. In eight games so far this spring, the 23-year-old is batting .350 with a Cactus League-leading four home runs. His 1.558 OPS leads both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
Sure, we’re talking about 20 at-bats here. It doesn’t mean much (or anything) as far predicting Story’s future success. But, you can bet manager Walt Weiss is paying attention and the decision of who the Rockies start at shortstop on Opening Day ultimately belongs to him and the front office.
Story is coming off an impressive 2015 season, having batted .279/.350/.514 with 20 homers, 40 doubles, 10 triples, 80 RBI and 22 stolen bases between Double- and Triple-A. He swings and misses a lot (630 strikeouts over 2,350 plate appearances in the minors), having the look of a guy that’s never going to hit for a very high average. However, a middle infielder with some power and speed is always going to excite fantasy owners, especially one who will play at Coors Field.
How long Reyes will be suspended for his alleged domestic abuse is still up in the air, although the assumption is that it will be a much stiffer penalty than the 30 games Aroldis Chapman got given that Reyes was charged and Chapman wasn’t. It’s possible he won’t be available for the bulk of the season.
The Rockies could wind up going with a less exciting option at shortstop like Daniel Descalso or Cristhian Adames, opting to give Story more seasoning at Triple-A, where he’s played just 61 games. However, Story’s time looks to be coming sooner rather than later.
Peraza Front and Center
The Reds thought they were freeing up playing time for Jose Peraza over the winter when they agreed to a trade sending Brandon Phillips to the Nationals. Phillips wound up nixing that deal, but it’s possible Peraza could have a path to playing time at a different position.
With Billy Hamilton (shoulder) still ailing and his return date cloudy, Peraza on Monday got his first start of the spring in center field and also the leadoff spot. He responded with two hits, a run scored and a stolen base. In 23 Cactus League at-bats, the 21-year-old is hitting .435/.458/.609 with one home run and four steals.
Peraza has always been viewed as a low-ceiling, high-floor type prospect, as he doesn’t have any power and is allergic to drawing walks. However, he has excellent contact skills and speed, giving him a chance to hit for average and steal a lot of bases. That’s obviously of interest to fantasy owners.
Hamilton is still slowly re-introducing baseball activities after feeling soreness in his surgically-repaired right shoulder following his first Cactus League game. A disabled list stint at the beginning of the season is a distinct possibility. Whether Peraza is a legitimate option to fill his shoes remains to be seen given his lack of experience at the position (18 games between the majors and minors). However, manager Bryan Price sounds like a guy who’s looking forward to penciling Peraza’s name into his lineup card, possibly at the top of the order.
"He's done a really nice job," Price said. "We felt like organizationally, this was a guy that could really hit and hit for high average and bunt and steal bases and do a lot of things with his speed. And that's the type of guy you want to get to the top of the order more so than the bottom."
Quick Hits: An MRI on Matt Wieters’ right elbow showed no structural damage ... Victor Martinez injured his left hamstring on Monday and is expected to be sidelined for at least a week ... Johnny Cueto will be checked for a concussion after a ball glanced off his head during Monday’s game ... A.J. Pollock could return from his elbow injury as soon as this weekend ... Yadier Molina took batting practice on the field Monday for the first time since his second thumb surgery ... C.J. Wilson had a setback with his pitching shoulder and is considered out indefinitely ... Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) resumed throwing off a mound on Monday ... Steve Cishek (biceps) threw a 20-pitch bullpen session on Monday and hopes to return to game action later this week ... Alex Wood (forearm) will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday ... Michael Lorenzen had a setback with his pitching elbow and will undergo an MRI ... Jacob deGrom (back) is planning to return to Grapefruit League action on Thursday or Friday ... Scott Kazmir's fastball was clocked at just 86-89 mph in a “B” game on Monday ...