Maikel Franco is off to a hot start

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco has started spring on a tear. He slugged two more home runs during Monday’s Grapefruit League exhibition loss to the Orioles, pushing his spring leads in home runs to six and RBI to 14. Monday was his second multi-homer game as he also blasted a pair last Thursday against the Tigers.

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This early success is new to Franco, as he struggled in big league camp prior to each of the previous two seasons. He finished spring 2014 with a .409 OPS and spring 2015 with a .400 OPS.

Franco, 23, is slated to handle everyday duties at third base again for the Phillies. He performed quite well after he was called up in mid-May last season, batting .280/.343/.497 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in 335 plate appearances. He was knocked out of action for nearly two months in August when current teammate Jeremy Hellickson hit him with a pitch, causing a non-displaced fracture in his right wrist.

The National League has a plethora of talent at third base this year, which will bring some additional intrigue to the All-Star nominations. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the Rookie of the Year Award last season while Matt Duffy and Jung Ho Kang finished second and third, respectively. Nolan Arenado and Matt Carpenter also share Franco’s position at the hot corner. It wasn’t long ago that David Wright was one of few notable players at the position.