There was a lot of fun in Rome in June and July this past minor-league season. That was in large part thanks to the offensive onslaught from Atlanta Braves’ outfield prospect Jesse Franklin V, who went on a home-run hitting frenzy. Here’s a look back at the rise of Franklin from 2020 MLB draft pick to top-10 Braves’ prospect.
Midseason report card: Franklin came in at No. 10 on the Talking Chop Midseason Top 30. This was coming off that incredible hot streak. He cooled off by season’s end, but still established himself as a top Braves’ prospect.
2021 stats: .244/.320/.522, 24 doubles, 24 home runs, 61 RBI
What we saw in 2021: Here’s what we knew about Franklin entering the 2021 season: pretty much nothing. The last we saw Franklin in action was at the 2019 College World Series, where he put on a show and made himself a full-fledged MLB draft prospect. He was injured prior to the 2020 college baseball season and then the world shut down. Despite not playing organized ball in months, the Braves still thought he was worth the pick, and grabbed him in the third round.
That pick proved to work out well. Franklin, who did get to Gwinnett in 2020 and got about 150 at-bats at the alternate site and worked out with the Braves’ young outfield prospects, had some rust to start 2021 which wasn’t surprising. He hit just .200 in May, but then… it clicked.
And man, did it click. June was a different story. Franklin slashed .338/.412/.757 with eight home runs and followed that up with an 11-homer July. It seemed like a day wouldn’t pass without a Franklin moonshot or big double to the gap. The slugging outfielder cooled off as the season ended, but did enough on his memorable two-month heater to tie for the High-A East home run lead for 2021.
What the future holds: Franklin had a solid 2021 in every aspect. He has a big left-handed swing that didn’t see many pitches he didn’t like, striking out 28.3% of the time. He destroyed fastballs, but struggled with breaking pitches, but again, this isn’t entirely unexpected with the layoff he had. Overall, he has a proven hit tool that should work as he continues his climb.
He also used his speed exceptionally well. It allowed him to steal 19 bases, which may be a bit inflated taking advantage of High-A arms, but is definitely real. He uses it in the field as well, capable of playing all three positions, which he did this past season.
The issue for Franklin is the abundance of outfield prospects in the system. Drew Waters and Cristian Pache roamed the outfield in Gwinnett and Trey Harris and Justin Dean were above him in Mississippi while his own teammate Michael Harris stole national headlines with a breakout season. That should play to Franklin’s advantage, allowing him to continue to refine his approach and tap into that hit tool that was certainly special in 2021.