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Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: MAIKEL FRANCO 3B PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

The 2015 fantasy baseball season was not unlike any other when it came to the massive explosion of top tier talent at the third base position.  after third base became littered the last few years with aging and declining players, the 2015 campaign brought forth insane youthful production from the lieks of Kris Bryant, Manny Machado, and Nolan Arenado who joined top veterans Todd Frazier and Josh Donaldson.  However going a bit deeper, another name came forward with very intriguing production at a very young age in Philadelphia in the form of Maikel Franco.  While not having near the blockbuster numbers of the guys written about above, Franco more than opened a few eyes in 2015 when at the age of 23, he proceeded to go out and bat .280 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in just 335 at-bats.  Having a screen in Philadelphia in terms of a lowered draft price due to how terrible the team is, Franco is shaping up as a very good sleeper candidate who could be primed to joined the Arenado's, Machado's, and Bryant's of the world in 2016.

As far as the history of Franco is concerned, the former undrafted free agent signee out of the Dominican Republic quickly became a much-talked about prospect in the minor leagues on the strength of his power numbers.  In 2013, Franco slammed 31 total home runs at Single and Double-A and then followed that up with another 16 bombs in 2014 while batting .257 at Triple-A.  While the average was a bit low, Franco's power was more than a little interesting and an unlucky .276 BABIP that year portended to better things ahead with the average.  The Phillies have Franco a very late-season look in September in 2014 but Franco was not ready as he hit just .170 with zero home runs in 16 games. 

Fast forward to 2015 and Franco began the season tearing the cover off the ball by hitting a scorching .355 with 4 home runs in just 33 games which forced the Phillies to give him a look.  While he did miss time with injury, Franco kept on hitting as he hit cracked 14 homers with the 50 RBI and .280 average in 80.  Franco was very impressive to say the least and his advanced numbers all checked out nicely which hinted at more to come as far as his offensive production.  For one thing, Franco's 15.5 percent K Rate was tremendous for a rookie at the major league level and he added the double bonus of walking in 7.8 percent of his at-bats.  Combined together, that will help Franco become a .300 hitter real soon.  Franco also hit 22 doubles which means there is more power on the way that could have him eventually threatening 30 long ball which will be helped in the launching pad in Philly.  A .297 BABIP was right smack dab in the neutral zone which means Franco's 2015 season was almost completely legit.  When you factor in that Franco will turn just 24 in August, there is a bunch of growth years still ahead of him.

When you look toward he 2016 fantasy baseball season, the suddenly insane prices attached to Bryant, Arenado, Machado, and Donaldson makes Franco stand out even more as a bargain.  There is a very good chance Franco could come close to 25 home runs and 80 RBI with a nice average for a draft price that could be 5--7 rounds cheaper then the guys mentioned earlier.  The signs are all positive here and going nicely in the right direction.  Get on board.

2016 PROJECTION:  .293 24 HR 83 RBI 74 R 2 SB

 

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