- Over the winter, when hedging bets on his roster for the upcoming year, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that "in a perfect world" corner-infield prospect Maikel Franco would begin the season in the minor leagues.
Barring an injury, Amaro will get his wish.
Yesterday morning, the Phillies made the decision to start Franco at Triple A Lehigh Valley when the season gets underway in 3 weeks. Franco was optioned to minor league camp, along with pitchers Nefi Ogando and Joely Rodriguez.
The 22-year-old Franco hit .200 (6-for-30) with four strikeouts and no walks in 12 games this spring.
"His time is going to come," Amaro said. "He's upset, because he probably wanted to write a different script for himself. But the fact of the matter is, like any young player who we feel is going to have an impact in the major leagues, his time will come when it comes. I think there was probably some element of trying to do too much."
For the second straight spring, Franco did not have an extra-base hit in Grapefruit League play.
"I think there was probably some element of him trying to do too much, like he did a little bit last spring," Amaro said. "But he doesn't need to impress us; he just needs to go play . . . [All of the guys here are] trying to make a great impression. In Maikel's situation, it's obviously a lot more visible because he's a higher-ranked prospect or whatever you want to call it. The fact of the matter is he's going to be a very productive major league player, at least that's what we believe. His time is not [there] yet. It'll happen."
After hitting .320 with 31 home runs and a .926 OPS in 134 games during a breakout minor league season in 2013 between Class A Clearwater and Double A Reading, Franco hit .257 with 16 home runs and a .727 OPS in 133 games at Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2014. He joined the Phillies in September, hitting .179 (10-for-56) with two doubles in 16 games.
Amaro said Franco will work primarily at third base in minor league camp, while keeping his first-base mitt in action some, too. Cody Asche, meanwhile, will be the Phillies' third baseman on Opening Day for the second straight season.
Asche, who hit .252 with a .699 OPS in 121 games last season, hit his second home run in as many days yesterday in the Phillies' 6-5 loss to the Pirates.
The 24-year-old Asche is hitting .267 (8-for-30) with two doubles and two home runs in 12 games this spring.
"I think he's having a real good spring," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Just from making adjustments on what [we told him] to work on from last year. He has a real good two-strike approach, putting some balls in play with a nice, short, sweet stroke, resulting in balls hit hard. I think he took to heart our suggestions over the offseason and is showing results throughout camp."
The Phillies said that Domonic Brown's MRI showed no tear in his left Achilles' but he does have moderate tendinitis. He is considered day to day, but it could be up to a week before he plays again.
Brown was removed from Thursday night's game against the Yankees in Tampa, Fla., in the middle of the third inning. He said the pain has bothered him for the last 2 weeks. Brown, in line to be the Opening Day rightfielder, is hitting .241 (7-for-29) with one double in 11 games this spring.