Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa have been very impressed by Maikel Franco early in camp, and the Phillies' manager maintains that Franco will compete with Cody Asche for the Phils' third base job.
Sandberg is impressed with Franco's ability to drive the ball to all fields, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Bowa is taken by his defensive skills at first and third base.
"It seems the harder the ball is hit at him the softer he gets,” Sandberg said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him in game action. I want to get a good look at him.”
Franco, of course, broke out in 2013 by hitting .320 with 31 homers and 103 RBI at Double A and Triple A.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been another story altogether. It seems each time the Phillies mention his name, they say it with less confidence. Initially signed to a $48 million deal, Gonzalez eventually signed a three-year, $12 million pact after health concerns arose.
Phillies officials have constantly tempered expectations this winter, and on Friday Sandberg did no different.
"Um, well, he’s a guy that’s coming back from injury and hasn’t pitched competitively really for a couple of years," Sandberg told reporters Friday.
"He’s still a little bit of a mystery to me. I know the facts about him. Those are the things that stand out. I want to see progression and how he is from one time to the next and see how that looks."
In that same piece, Salisbury mentions that starting the 2014 season in the minors is a possibility for the Cuban free agent. It's odd how far Gonzalez has fallen. There was originally a thought he'd pitch a little toward the end of the 2013 season.
We knew that he might not be a starting pitcher, but now there are concerns that he might not even be a major-leaguer just yet.
Gonzalez is right at the top of the list of Phillies to watch once the spring training games begin. His stats will actually matter.
Rollins a Hall of Famer?
In an interview Friday with CSNPhilly.com, Bowa said that Jimmy Rollins is "right there" for the Hall of Fame, and with three or more years would be a "no doubt" Hall of Famer.
There's no denying Rollins has the counting stats. Among all major-leaguers who have played 90% of their games at shortstop, Rollins is second all-time in home runs (199), third in doubles (457, two behind Orlando Cabrera), third in triples (107) and fourth in stolen bases (425). His rate stats aren't on the same level as recent Hall of Famer Barry Larkin's, but Rollins has more doubles, triples, homers and steals.
It's my opinion that Rollins will get a decent percent of votes when he becomes Hall of Fame eligible, but won't come too close to the 75% majority necessary for induction.