MLB Draft Profile: Christian Franklin

MLB Draft Profile: Christian Franklin

by June 15, 2021 1 comment

After looking at Jalen Battles earlier, let’s take a look at another former Arkansas Razorback in outfielder Christian Franklin. Franklin is being mocked higher than his teammate and could go in the late first to the early second round next month.

Christian Franklin, Outfielder, Arkansas

Height: 5’11” 

Weight: 195 lbs. 

Age: 21

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

2019: 59 G, .274/.362/.419, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 38 R, 10 SB

2020: 16 G, .381/.467/.619, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 21 R, 3 SB

2021: 61 G, .274/.420/.544, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 55 R, 11 SB

Christian Franklin made an immediate impact on the Razorbacks as he earned a starting job in the outfield his freshman year of 2019. He has some of the best all-around tools in the entire draft class and has really made strides with his swing the last two seasons. It is looking more and more likely that the 21-year-old will hear his name called on day one or early day two.

Scouting Grades 

Hit: 50

Power: 55

Run: 55

Field: 60

Throw: 60

Overall: 55

Strengths 

Franklin had some swing-and-miss issues in his freshman year but has shown vast improvements in his plate discipline the last two seasons. His walk rate is up from 10 percent in 2019 to 16 percent in 2021 and he has done consistent damage at the plate after making some adjustments. The bat speed and strength are impressive which creates power to all fields while the ball jumps off the bat when he makes contact. There really wasn’t much hype around Franklin prior to this season, but his improved plate approach and ability to show off his tools have skyrocketed his draft stock.

On the basepaths, Franklin has the speed to steal bases, but scouts have seen he hasn’t run as fast this season as previously. He covers plenty of ground in the outfield with speed and solid instincts. This points to him being able to stick in center field, but he also has the arm strength to play one of the corner outfield spots. If the bat doesn’t play as much at the next level, he still has the floor for a fourth outfielder in the big leagues.

Weaknesses 

Despite making the adjustments necessary at the plate to really start tapping into his five-tool potential, there are still swing-and-miss concerns as he faces tougher pitching at higher levels. Despite having a steady walk rate, his strikeout rate jumped back up to 28 percent after having it dropped down to 18.7 percent in the shortened 2020 season. However, he wrecked the very tough SEC pitching, so that is a good sign. Franklin will need to continue to show he can adjust as pitchers make adjustments to him. As he taps more into his power, he may also lose some of his speed which may cause him to lose a step in the outfield and on the bases. Still, though, there isn’t any reason to believe he won’t continue to improve his game even as he gets hit with bumps in the road.

Pro Comparison: Mookie Betts

I never, ever like comparing a draft prospect to one of the best players in the game. But in this case, I truly believe Franklin has the type of ceiling of Betts. He has a similar build, swing path, and plus outfield defense of the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder. Since the ceiling is set so high for Franklin, let’s say his floor is at least of that of someone like Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley’s defense is his best tool and his bat has never been out of this world. If Franklin’s bat doesn’t catch up to the pros, that could be how he turns out, as an elite defensive outfielder with an average offensive profile. Also, sorry Boston Red Sox fans, it’s just a coincidence I compared him to two former Red Sox outfielders.

Draft Projection: Round 2, Pick 43, Kansas City Royals

Franklin was once in the top-20 pick conversation but has since dropped down to the mid-40s as his floor. It is still possible he goes in the first round if teams believe he improved his approach enough. The walk rate remaining steady is definitely a good sign as he wasn’t whiffing on pitches out of the zone. The Royals are a young and upcoming team who could use always use some more outfield depth.


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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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