PHOENIX - It was here where Maikel Franco began thinking about the future, how an 89-mph fastball to his wrist last August helped persuade the young Phillies slugger to later take a meeting with a San Francisco start-up that sells stock in professional athletes.
He had signed for $100,000 as a teenager in the Dominican Republic, made a few thousand for five months a year in the minors, and had attained a label as one of the better young hitters in the game.
Franco recently played his 162nd major-league game, and the fastball that broke his wrist stands as an inflection point.
"You don't want something bad to happen, but it happens in baseball," Franco, 23, said this past week. "I'm playing really good baseball. Thirteen home runs in two months. I'm close to rookie of the year with Kris Bryant. And something happened. I couldn't play for two months. That wasn't even my bad. It just happened in the game.
"I just think about that kind of stuff. It made me do it because I want to play 10 or 15 years, but it's something I can't control."
So, in April, Franco sold a 10-percent stake in his future earnings for $4.35 million as part of a brand contract with a company called Fantex. Five other Major League Baseball players have struck similar deals with Fantex, a trading platform that plans to sell public shares of Franco stock.
The terms of the immediate payout, Franco said, have allowed him to relax. "The only thing I have to do right now is think about baseball," he said. But the Phillies are waiting for that to translate into a more patient approach at the plate. Franco, as he reached one full season in the majors, remained an unfinished product.
That is to be expected.
"He's got a lot of natural ability, obviously," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's an aggressive hitter and I love aggressive hitters, but he's a little bit overly aggressive. I think he needs to be a smarter hitter. I'd rather take an aggressive hitter and throttle him back than a guy who is not aggressive and try to get him to be aggressive. That's a great situation to be in."
With every hard swing and a miss that shakes Franco's helmet from his head, it is important to remember that just three Phillies hitters crushed more homers in their first 162 games than Franco's 27. Ryan Howard hit 54. Both Chuck Klein (44) and Don Hurst (32) padded their total in the Baker Bowl at the end of the 1920s.
Franco was a .255 hitter with a .757 OPS in his first 170 games. He had 14 walks in his first 65 games this season, and drew nine walks on the team's nine-game road trip. Still, Mackanin said, Franco overswings. Are teams reluctant to challenge Franco because there are few threats in the Phillies lineup?
"Let's say there was a .350 hitter hitting behind him," Mackanin said. "They're not just going to lay fastballs in to a guy who has that kind of potential. If you see a guy who can't hit a breaking ball - not to say he can't - that's what you're going to do to him. Teams go over it in meetings: How do you get this guy out? Well, show him in and expand the strike zone away. Regardless of who is hitting behind him, it's on him."
Franco knows how the league will pitch him. Entering the weekend, just four qualified National League hitters had seen a lower percentage of fastballs than Franco.
"If you're a pitcher and know I do really well with the fastball, you're not going to throw me one," Franco said. "But that's the adjustment I have to make. I have to be prepared. That's what they'll continue to do with me."
That adjustment, Mackanin said, is one Franco has made in the batting cage. But it is not always applied. "I think his emotions take over," the manager said. "Especially in clutch situations." Franco insisted he is more relaxed.
Franco and his agent met with Fantex officials during spring training. Franco, who will make $517,500 in 2016, said he discussed the idea with his family.
"In the Dominican, it's a huge difference from here," Franco said. ". . . I had to think about it first. But I took it. For me, I think it's a good decision. The right decision."
Those in baseball are curious to see how the Fantex agreements evolve. Teams, in a growing trend, have negotiated more contract extensions with young stars before they reach salary arbitration and free agency. Those deals are typically viewed as friendly to the team, but they do offer security for the player.
In this case, Franco found some security without a contract extension. That could affect his willingness later to negotiate a deal before free agency - if the Phillies are interested. Franco said there were no offseason talks of such a contract.
"Not at all," Franco said.
So Franco's agent explored the Fantex agreement. If Franco accumulates more than $43.5 million in career earnings - both on and off the field - public investors will see a profit. Fantex, in April, said the deals were contingent on the company's obtaining financing to make the payments. The company plans to sell securities involving its athletes to investors, but it has not yet detailed how that process will work. Company officials were not available for comment.
The deals could be more beneficial to pitchers than hitters. Angels lefthander Andrew Heaney, the first major-league player to sign with Fantex last September, received an up-front $3.34 million payment. The 25-year-old pitcher made just one start this season and underwent Tommy John surgery on Friday.
Franco, after his own injury, thought more about his future.
"I do everything that I can do for my family," Franco said. "Now, I just play more relaxed. I don't worry about anything else. And I feel pretty good."