Explanation: I’m apologetic that this article is getting posted so late. I had some major connectivity issues at my home where my wireless router was failing at life. I’m finally reconnected and now that it’s the weekend finally have time to catch back up.
Without further ado, let’s take a gander at…
Standing 6’2″ tall and listed at 240 pounds, Juan Ramon Francisco isn’t hard to find on the baseball diamond. The 26-year-old Dominican made his debut on a Major League Baseball diamond back in 2009 when he was just 22. Back then he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds, the same organization who signed him as a 17-year-old amateur free agent in 2004.
Francisco came to the Brewers during the 2013 season, in a trade with the Atlanta Braves for minor league pitcher Thomas Keeling. At the time, the Brewers were desperate for another bat and were willing to take a chance that the out-of-favor Francisco could learn first base on the job. It was an experiment that didn’t go very well.
Despite providing a big target, though not as big as say Corey Hart, Francisco struggled with several aspects of his defense. Reaching/stretching for throws, catching the ball, and even fielding grounders — something he should have been fine at being a “natural” third baseman — gave him troubles.
At the plate wasn’t a whole lot better. In 270 plate appearances as a Brewer, Francisco slashed .221/.300/.433 with 24 extra-base hits (13 home runs), 25 walks and an eye-popping 95 strikeouts. He was particurlarly wretched against southpaws, slashing .156/.206/.219 over the entirety of 2013.
All things considered, Francisco didn’t have the season that the Brewers had hoped. The Brewers made a mechanical adjustment to Francisco’s swing late in the year in an effort to increase his effectiveness. It took some adjusting to as Francisco would hit only .121 (4-for-33) in September. However, Francisco took the adjustment with him to the winter leagues where he would hit a combined .260/.351/.393 in 150 at-bats over 40 games in the Dominican Winter League. (Ironically, Francisco hammered left-handed pitching this winter and struggled against righties. .303 AVG & .197 AVG respectively.)
As for 2014, Francisco came to camp in the same position as veteran free agents Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, which is to say that he has the chance to earn at least part of a job playing first base.
He’s unlikely to earn the full-time job, but could make the team as the primary backup corner infielder or perhaps that Mark Reynolds would man the hot corner while Francisco spells Aramis Ramirez in the lineup.
So far this spring, Francisco has slashed .333/.391/.667 with two home runs (which came in his first two at-bats). However the strikeouts are still most certainly a part of his game as he’s got as many whiffs this spring as hits — seven — in his 21 at-bats.
Given his MLB history at the plate, Francisco’s best role on the 2014 Brewers could end up being starts against some right-handed pitching and the big power pinch-hitter off the bench late in games.
That could be enough if everything else falls into place around him.
You can follow Juan Francisco on Twitter: @j_francisco25
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #22 Matt Garza
- #23 Rickie Weeks
- #24 Lyle Overbay
- #25 Hunter Morris
- #26 Kyle Lohse
- #27 Carlos Gomez
- #29 Jim Henderson
- #30 Tyler Thornburg
- #32 Tom Gorzelanny
- #38 Wily Peralta
- #40 Johnny Hellweg
- #41 Marco Estrada
- #45 Alfredo Figaro
- #46 Hiram Burgos
- #47 Rob Wooten
- #49 Yovani Gallardo
- #50 José De La Torre
- #51 Wei-Chung Wang
- #52 Jimmy Nelson
- #53 Brandon Kintzler
- #54 Michael Blazek
- #58 Ariel Peña
- #59 Zach Duke
- #60 Kevin Shackelford
- #61 Jason Rogers
- #63 Brooks Hall
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Irving Falu
- #66 Robinzon Diaz
- BONUS COLUMN: #77 David Goforth, #76 Kevin Mattison, #75 Mitch Haniger, #74 Michael Olmstead, #73 Kentrail Davis, #72 Cameron Garfield, #71 Adam Weisenburger, #70 Dustin Molleken, #67 Eugenio Velez