The Atlanta Braves know that Chipper Jones will only be healthy for so many games in 2012. He has averaged about 115 starts the last three seasons, and he'll already begin the upcoming year on the disabled list with a torn knee meniscus. GIven his injury concerns and a lack of viable options for third base, general manager Frank Wren struck a deal with the Reds on Sunday afternoon.
Juan Francisco, a 24-year-old third baseman who has been blocked by various players in Cincinnati over the years, was acquired by Atlanta in exchange for pitching prospect J.J. Hoover.
Let's take a closer look at Francisco and why the club was willing to deal a top-15 prospect for him.
The scouting report on Francisco appears to be this: a lefty, he has all the power in the world, but he is a bit of a hacker at the plate and had a poor walk-to-strikeout ratio in the Minor Leagues. At 6'3'' and 245lbs, the new third baseman will fit right in with his teammates as he chugs around the bases. Most would tell you his defensive range is pretty limited given his weight, but he features a cannon of an arm.
Many feel that he will end up either a bench player or 4-A guy (someone who continually bounces around between the Majors and Minors for their career) but he is still young enough to possibly improve and become a starter for a few seasons. This seems unlikely, but Francisco never really has been given much of an opportunity at the highest level.
Given his career splits -- 247 / .289 / .420 vs. LHP; 324 / .355 / .621 vs. RHB -- my guess is the Braves will play him at third on days a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. Whenever Atlanta faces a lefty, it will be Martin Prado at the hot corner and Matt Diaz filling in for him out in left field. Francisco will also be one of the primary left-handed pinch-hitting option along with Eric Hinske.
I like the move a decent bit. Hoover was blocked in our system and was looking more and more like a middle innings bullpen guy. Francisco has a huge upside, and while the slugger likely won't ever reach it, he's an improvement over other options for third base whenever Chipper is unable to go.