It's been five years since Franklin was a high-school draftee. It's time for him to put up or shut up. That's why, despite the pandemic and a troubling shoulder injury robbing him of two full seasons of development, the Cubs gave him an early bump up to Double-A Tennessee. It wasn't exactly earned based on pure performance, because Franklin battled the same persistent walk trouble he has had throughout his pro career during his brief time at South Bend to open the season, but it was definitely necessary. It's time to see what his stuff, command, and durability will allow him to do against better competition.
Of those three factors, the stuff is the one least in question. Franklin has a plus fastball-changeup combination and is getting more comfortable with a couple of breaking pitches. He's impressed a lot of prospect watchers with the flashes of command of each of those secondary pitches that he's shown this year. He's not nearly consistent enough with that yet, though, and even his fastball is sometimes sprayed around the zone too much. Whatever he's going to become, he has to do it quickly, and at this point, it's most likely that he'll end up trying it as a reliever in the near future. If he can tighten up his control and his pitch mix a bit, though, he still has a chance to stick in the rotation, where his shoulder will be easier to maintain and keep healthy.
Monday is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month's Rule 5 Draft. The Cubs have a few open roster spots, but whether to spend all of them (and if so, on which prospects) is always an interesting question.
July saw many young starters in the Cubs' farm system improve upon their seasons, but only a select few stood out as the best Minor League pitchers of the month. See which made the rankings in the first-ever Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month for North Side Baseball.