9/17/2013 7:44 P.M. ET
Prospect Franco heads into offseason with big dreams
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- One of the most intriguing names for the Phillies this season has played only 69 games above Class A.
But infielder Maikel Franco figures to be a huge topic of conversation beginning in February in Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla. Franco, who won the organization's Paul Owens Award for Player of the Year, hit a combined .320 with 36 doubles, three triples, 31 home runs, 103 RBIs and a .926 OPS with Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading.
He is the organization's No. 2 prospect, and he will enter camp with his sights on a big league job.
"Definitely expect that," he said Tuesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "I'm going to come in working hard and gain a spot, for sure."
But the biggest question in the organization regarding Franco isn't if he has the talent to play in the big leagues, it is where he will play. Franco is a third baseman, but Cody Asche seems to be sewing up that job with a strong performance since his call up July 30. The Phillies had Franco play eight games at first base with Reading at the end of the season to give them another option, but Ryan Howard is expected to be the Opening Day first baseman.
"Whatever position he want me to play, I'll play," Franco said. "Everybody wants to play in the big leagues. That's my point. I want to play in the big leagues. I don't care what position I play. I want to play in the big leagues."
These things have a way of working out. Howard was once blocked at first base by Jim Thome, so much so that Howard's former agent actually formally requested a trade. (Former general manager Ed Wade politely declined the request.) But the Phillies ultimately traded Thome to the White Sox to make Howard the everyday first baseman following his 2005 season, when he won the National League Rookie of the Year.
It won't be as easy to trade Howard. He has three years and $85 million remaining on his contract.
But for now, Franco is headed to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball. After that, who knows?
"I feel like I'm close, yeah," Franco said of his arrival in the big leagues. "I want to be ready. I want that to be my mentality. I want to get stronger and be ready for everything next year."
Kendrick scratched Wednesday; Miner to start
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies scratched Kyle Kendrick from Wednesday's start because of inflammation in his right shoulder, and Zach Miner will get the call instead.
Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg said Kendrick had an MRI exam Tuesday because of soreness in his shoulder.
"It's very cautionary and conservative," Sandberg said. "He's felt something the last few weeks. He just wanted to get peace of mind about it. He was still able to pitch and could still pitch now. But it was a precautionary move now to get him checked out."
Kendrick is 3-9 with a 6.45 ERA in 14 starts from June 30 through Friday's start against the Nationals. Kendrick is eligible for salary arbitration following the season, so this recent run has not come at a good time.
Asked if Kendrick could be shut down the remainder of the season, Sandberg said, "Unsure about that. … His velocity was still good. He was still able to throw a number of pitches and still pitch with it. It wasn't a thing that was a concern the last few weeks. At this stage of the season, the organization just felt for his peace of mind, to be checked out."
Phillies eager to explore Gonzalez's potential
PHILADELPHIA -- If right-hander Severino Gonzalez ever makes the big leagues, he can thank one of his countrymen for a little help.
Gonzalez, who won the Paul Owens Award as the organization's Pitcher of the Year, is from Panama, and had the opportunity in Spring Training to meet Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. Chooch took Gonzalez out to eat often and offered plenty of advice during those dinners.
"Carlos Ruiz is kind of like a father to me," Gonzalez said through a translator Tuesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
Gonzalez, 20, went a combined 7-5 with a 2.00 ERA in 25 games (14 starts) this season with Class A Lakewood, Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. In 103 2/3 innings, he walked 22 and struck out 119.
Gonzalez walked nine in 135 1/3 innings in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2011-12, which means he has walked just 31 batters in 239 innings in his professional career.
"It's a gift, a God-given gift," he said of his control. "I've always had it."
"His fastball can go both ways," Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said. "He cuts it and he sinks it. In a sense, he's trying to emulate Mariano [Rivera] and his cutter. He looks underdeveloped. He's going to get bigger and stronger. He can really pitch. He's fun to watch. He's real competitive on the mound. He doesn't mind throwing inside. He pitches like a veteran. He has three or four different pitches, throws them in any count. Throws a lot of strikes. He had a very good year last year in Venezuela, and he just continued that this year. He pitched well wherever we've thrown him."
• The Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced its annual award winners Tuesday. Domonic Brown won the Mike Schmidt Award for Most Valuable Player, Cliff Lee won the Steve Carlton Award for Most Valuable Pitcher, Charlie Manuel won the Dallas Green Award for Special Achievement for his 1,000th managerial victory and Kevin Frandsen won the Tug McGraw Award for True Professionalism.
• The late scout Eddie Bockman was honored before Tuesday's game as the winner of the 2013 Dallas Green Award. Bockman, who died in 2011, worked as a scout with the Phillies from 1960 to 1991. He signed Phillies like Larry Bowa, Bob Boone, Bob Walk, Ricky Jordan, Randy Lerch, Buck Martinez and John Vukovich.
"Eddie was one of the best scouts we have ever had in our organization," Green said. "He was an old-timer and a great evaluator of talent that knew the game inside and out. He fought very hard for his guys and his area."
Bockman's sister, Lois Bockman, and his nephew, Gary Bockman, accepted the award on his behalf.
Each year, the club presents the award to an amateur or professional scout who best exemplifies the Phillies' standard for scouting while demonstrating the same loyalty, work ethic, dedication and passion as the award's namesake.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.