Maikel Franco didn't turn 21 until August, when his breakout minor league season was nearly finished.
He's young. He probably still has some more developing to do as a professional; Franco began last season at A-ball and played a little more than two months at Double-A.
Cody Asche, meanwhile, gained valuable big league experience in the final two months of the Phillies season in 2013. He is a heavy favorite to be at third base when the regular season starts in Texas on March 31.
The battle between the left-handed hitting Asche and right-handed hitting Franco should continue to be interesting throughout 2014, as Franco will only get closer to the big leagues with each passing day. But Sandberg wouldn't go as far as to say the competition is over this spring, either.
"We have competition," Sandberg said.
The manager went on to say that such decisions are usually made from an organization standpoint, so that the player will be in the best position to succeed when he does arrive in the big leagues. Again, it's almost a given that Franco starts the season in the minor leagues and doesn't arrive in the majors until later in the summer.
But Sandberg has liked what he's seen.
"Really good moves at third base, real good glove," Sandberg said. "He has a knack where the harder play it is, the softer he gets - that's instincts. I’ve seen him in live BP, having good quality swings already. He’s showing a lot of good stuff. And he’s working real hard at the game, and he’s around a lot of good guys, whether he’s following them or not, he’s really going after it on the field. It’s impressive
Franco hit 36 home runs in 134 games between Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading last season en route ot winning the Paul Owens Award for the best position player in the Phillies minor league system.
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