Toronto Blue Jays: Draft Targets 2.0: Position Players
Christian Franklin- OF Arkansas, #46 On Pipeline
Scouts grade position players on five tools: run, throw, field, hit and power. A five-tool player is a prospect who projects to have plus abilities in each of those categories, which is very rare to find. Arkansas’ Christian Franklin has that unique blend of athleticism and strength that are leading many evaluators to label him as a legitimate five-tool prospect, and is the reason why he is quickly becoming one of my favourite college bats in this year’s class.
The Kansas native’s best tool is undoubtedly his speed, where he received a 60 grade run tool from MLB Pipeline. Franklin combines this elite speed with a great arm that has been clocked in the 90’s from the outfield, making evaluators confident in his ability to not only stick in centre field once he turns pro, but to be able thrive in the position as well.
Offensively, Franklin has increased his power numbers during his time in Fayetteville, going from a long ball every 33.5 at-bats in his freshman year, to every 16 at-bats this season, with an OPS that jumped from .774 to 1.014 in that time as well. The Kansas native also has plus bat to ball skills, hitting just over .300 during his career and has been the catalyst to Arkansas offence this season, which is a huge reason why they are currently the number one ranked team in the country at this point in time.
Franklin doesn’t have great size, standing at 5’11” and weighing in at 195 pounds, but is “super twitchy at the plate and has great torque” which allows him to generate great rotational power in his swing, and has led him to being compared to another undersized slugger in Ronald Acuna Jr.
Franklin does have some swing and miss in his game, punching out 56 times in just 48 games this past season. The swing and miss isn’t as big of a problem as other prospects in this class such as Jud Fabian and Joshua Baez, but is still something to keep in mind when looking at Franklin as a complete player.
Centre field is a huge need for the Jays long term. Randal Grichuk has been a nice surprise and has been serviceable at the position, but projects better in right field. George Springer is only going to get older and has never played a full healthy season in centre during his career and will more than likely be forced into a corner outfield/DH role at some point during his contract.
Franklin would immediately become the highest graded outfielder in the Jays’ farm system and would provide a potential heir to centre field once Springer or Grichuk are forced to move off the position. Even though Franklin is only the 46th prospect on MLB Pipeline’s board, I’ve seen him in a lot of first round mock drafts, so if the Jays want to add Franklin to their farm system, it will have to be with their 19th selection.
I think that Franklin is going to be a prospect that continues to rise during the draft process due to his five-tool potential, and think that pick 19 is a perfectly acceptable spot to take a shot on a prospect with so much upside.