More on Maikel Franco as sides get closer to completing deal

Learning more about future Orioles third baseman Maikel Franco requires pushing away from online statistics as if they’re underneath the remains of a holiday spread.

What else is out there?

For me, it starts with learning how to pronounce his name. I’ve heard a couple of versions this week.

Going back online to BaseballReference.com - never stray too far - it’s “Michael Fraun-co” rather than “May-KEL Franco” or “MAY-kel Franco.”

You’ll find him on Twitter if you search @maikelfranco7. Just roll up your pants before wading through that sewer. Go directly to his account and then race back to safety.

Be warned, also, that he isn’t active on it. His last post was on March 9, 2017.

I texted one scout from each league to get their opinions on Franco. Only the player, not his social media prowess.

Scout 1: “Bat speed and strength combo. He has power to all fields. Fringe defender at third base.”

Scout 2: “Played well for Royals. Had power, mostly pull, and some swing and miss. Adequate defender. Rushes throws and doesn’t get his feet under him at times. Blended in well and I did not hear of anything negative in the clubhouse. Not re-signing him was more financial.”

The reports on his makeup are favorable, an important quality with so many impressionable youngsters.

Here’s a reminder of pitcher Matt Harvey’s assessment yesterday from their time together in Kansas City:

“Obviously, playing against him when he was with the Phillies and then playing with him last year, the guy’s got some serious pop and can do some damage for sure. Having him at third, whoever it is - obviously I’m not in charge of those things - he definitely has an unbelievable arm and plays a good third base. He can swing it. And from the short season last year that I spent time with him, he’s a great teammate. Whatever obviously is decided, it will be good to have some extra bats always.”

Harvey was put on the spot. He didn’t want to endorse a player at the expense of Rio Ruiz or anyone else in camp. He did some tiptoeing while driving home his point. A veteran move, for sure.

ed smith stadium.jpgPhillies insider Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweeted the following about Franco:

“I wish him well. One of best guys I’ve ever covered. Great person. He punctuated interviews by saying, ‘It’s a beautiful thing.’”

So is getting Franco in camp without further delay.

He lives in Florida, which removes the complication of travel from his native Dominican Republic. The Orioles train in Sarasota. This should be a stress-free process.

Position players require less time to get ready for the regular season. The Orioles would be in more of a bind if they signed a starting pitcher who’s been sitting at home. They can give Franco lots of plate appearances in simulated and exhibition games.

I’m sure he’s kept a bat in his hands while waiting for a team to call.

I’ve written about ways that the Orioles can clear space on their 40-man roster. Rule 5 pitchers Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells can be placed on waivers, though a final decision hasn’t been made on whether to keep one of them. Chris Davis and Hunter Harvey could go on the 60-day injured list.

(Harvey told manager Brandon Hyde that he felt a lot better yesterday, but it’s an oblique and it’s “super sore.”)

Ruiz is tough to keep on the active roster. The Orioles probably won’t have room for two third basemen who don’t play the middle infield.

The minor league options are an avenue to keeping him in the organization, but here’s another complication: Rylan Bannon needs to play third base every day at Triple-A Norfolk.

How’s that going to work?

How much longer before we find out?

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