Prospect Smackdown: Garin Cecchini vs Maikel Franco
In last week’s Prospect Smackdown, we examined two second base prospects with awesome names and varying skill sets. Voters decided that they preferred Rougned Odor to Arismendy Alcantara, by a margin of 54 to 46 percent.
This week, we take a look at two hot corner fantasy prospects with questionable defensive futures, incomplete games, but serious fantasy potential.
Prospect Smackdown No. 9: Garin Cecchini vs. Maikel Franco
The Case for Cecchini
Quite simply, the case for Cecchini begins with his hit tool. Widely regarded as a plus tool, we’re at the point where we as a community need to begin regarding it as a plus-plus tool instead. When I’ve seen Cecchini, he’s taken a short, direct path to the ball, looked comfortable tracking offspeed pitches and hit the ball hard on a line, despite not generating a lot of loft with his swing. To me, Cecchini is a future perennial .290-plus hitter, fully capable of using the whole field and also able to turn on inside pitches when need be. He’s dominated at every stop in the minors, routinely posting OBPs north of .400 and walking in over 15 percent of his PA. While speed won’t be a major part of his game, Cecchini is also an incredibly savvy base runner who could challenge for 10 swipes a year in the majors despite average speed.
The Case against Cecchini:
This is quite simple, too: we’re not sure how much power Cecchini will hit for, and it’s not entirely clear where his defensive home will lie, either. Cecchini’s swing isn’t geared to launch balls out of the park, and even if he grows into a bit more strength as he ages – Cecchini just turned 23 yesterday – he’s probably never going to be a huge power threat. That bothers some fantasy owners, who want at least 20-homer pop from their corner infielders. Defensively, Cecchini can be adequate at the hot corner, but there are whispers of him moving to left field or first base, partially to accommodate the wealth of 3B talent in the Red Sox organization. A powerless hitter at third base is one thing: a powerless hitter at first base or in the outfield is a strange fantasy asset, even if the other four categories are present.
The Case for Franco:
Power is a problem for Cecchini, but it most certainly is not an issue for Franco. He crushed High-A and Double-A as a 21-year-old last year, combining to hit 31 homers and 36 doubles in just under 600 PA. He shares Cecchini’s solid barrel-to-ball ability, but lacks plate discipline, walking in under seven percent of his PA as a professional. Still, Franco is a Triple-A player who could potentially hit .270 with 25-plus bombs with regularity, even if he’ll bring you down in OBP leagues. Add in that he’s quite close to the majors and will play in a favorable home ballpark if he plays in the organization, and it’s not hard to see why he’s among the most exciting fantasy corner infield prospects in the game right now.
The Case against Franco:
Franco’s ability to make contact prevents him from striking out often for a power hitter, but also perhaps gives him too much confidence, leading him to chase too many pitches and putting a cap on his ultimate upside. There’s a good chance that his introduction to the majors will be a rough one, as advanced sequencing and a barrage of offspeed pitches could force him to chase pitches to no avail. Franco is also already receiving some time at first base, and has even less of a shot at sticking at first on a full-time basis. In a perfect world, you might be looking at a third baseman who hits .275 with plus-plus power in a friendly park. But there’s also a real chance you end up with a better version of Juan Francisco, which is like upgrading from Bud Light to Bud Light Platinum.