By Andrew Porter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was unsolicited.

After admitting high expectations for the Philadelphia Phillies’ second-year outfielder Odubel Herrera, Charlie Manuel brought up Maikel Franco on his own just three questions into his interview with 94WIP’s Glen Macnow and Ike Reese.

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“Also, Ike, don’t want to forget about Franco,” Manuel said on Wednesday.

Listen: Charlie Manuel on the 94WIP Mike & Ike Show

 

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“I think he’s gonna be a tremendous player for a longtime. He’s a tremendous fielding third baseman, he’s got great range to his left and right, and he’s got a bright future.”

As for Franco’s offense? In 80 games last season, the Phillies’ third baseman hit 14 homers, 22 doubles, and 50 RBI’s. Is 30-plus homer runs and 100 RBI’s in his 2016 sights?

“Oh he definitely can put together that type of season,” Manuel admitted. “As far as being this year? It wouldn’t surprise me at all, really. This guy is gonna put up big numbers for awhile. He loves to hit and he loves to play the game, but also he stays very loose at the plate and he looks for balls to hit. He looks for good pitches to hit. Although he likes to swing the bat and he’ll chase some balls, he can handle most of the pitches. And he’s improved his load since year, his approach to the plate is much better. He’s got what I call a power load.”

With a young, talent, ascending core the Phillies — while not expected to win many games — will have plenty of players to keep an eye on throughout the season. The man in charge of pushing all the right buttons is manager Pete Mackanin, who was given a contract extension last Friday.

The manager of the 2008 Phillies World Series Championship team gave his nod of approval.

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“He has a good demeanor about him, he has a good way of communicating, and he’s had a lot of experience — especially in Latin American countries managing,” Manuel said of Mackanin. “And also too, I think that he is the right guy for this job really. I think it’s a good chance for him. By picking up his option the other day, I think that definitely showed our players that, ‘Hey look. This is our manager and we’re proud to have him.'”