May 1, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur (21) connects for a two run single in the sixth inning of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Francoeur Goes to Cleveland


September 25, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur (21) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, there was a prospect who took the major leagues by storm. Through the first thirty games of his career, he had a .373 batting average and had ten home runs. Sports Illustrated was so enamored by the sudden glare of this comet streaking across the baseball sky that they gave him the cover on their August 29th edition, proclaiming him ‘The Natural.’ Unfortunately, his lack of plate discipline (twenty strikeouts and ZERO walks in that time frame) caught up with him, and the comet burned out quickly. That player was none other than former Royals player Jeff Francoeur.

Yes, Francoeur had his moments, including his first year in Kansas City when he produced a .285/.329/.476 batting line, hitting 20 home runs and stealing 22 bases while somehow beguiling Dayton Moore into giving him a two year contract. Immediately, afterwards, he once again went into Jeff Francoeur mode – displaying zero plate discipline and flailing about in the batter’s box like a blindfolded kid trying to hit a pinata.

Francoeur seemingly hit rock bottom last season. After producing an abysmal .208/.249/.322 batting line for the Royals, he was released and signed by the Giants. Somehow, he managed to be even worse there, lasting a month before being released once again. His combined .298 slugging percentage was below that of such players as Zack Greinke, Andrew Cashner and Yovani Gallardo. Yes, Francoeur did not even hit well for a pitcher.

Yet, those moments and glimpses where Francouer resembles the player that graced that cover long ago still tantalize to this day. Teams will take a chance on a one time top prospect, especially if there have been flashes of those skills that once made scouts drool. As such, Francoeur finds himself once again with a job, signing a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians. Francouer also gets an invitation to the Major League camp, where he could emerge as a possible option against left handed starters in an outfield that could desperately need a right handed bat.

Jeff Francoeur could, once again, find himself patrolling the outfield at Kauffman Stadium next year. Only this time, it would be as a member of the Indians.

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  • jimfetterolf

    Just don’t try to run on him, greatest OF arm I’ve ever seen. I’ve wondered if Frenchy has considered learning to pitch. An arm that can hit 96mph from 250 feet and put the ball in Moose’s glove without him even having to move. Just teach him a change and put him on the mound and you’ve got a reliever.

    • Dave Hill

      I’ve wondered about that as well. Why not, in a blow out, stick him on the mound and see what happens? Maybe he just doesn’t have interest in pitching, but he does have the arm for it.

      • jimfetterolf

        If I was Frenchy I would have spent the winter at Jaeger’s pitching camp ready to surprise anyone willing to give me a minor league contract. a couple of months locking in the motion and learning a circle-change or splitter and he’ld have value for an NL team.

        Have never seen confirmation or even a rumor, but been watching Frenchy for a few years and I think there’s something physically wrong, maybe a neurological problem. He real quick lost weight, speed, power, and even coordination. Something I’ve wondered about.

        • Dave Hill

          I’ve actually wondered if he has a vision issue. He never hit right handed pitching well, but he could hammer lefties. He was abysmal against both last season. Makes me think that there may be some sort of problem seeing that hasn’t been looked into.

          • alexfielder

            He underwent LASIK a few weeks ago. Maybe that will help.

  • moretrouble

    I’m glad Jeff is getting an opportunity with Cleveland. I hope he has a great spring training and finds a job in Cleveland. There is not an individual in baseball with more class than Jeff Francouer. He’s the nicest guy you’d ever meet. Good luck, Jeff.

    • cardsfanatik

      I agree. He is one of my favorite personalities in Baseball. I just wish he would have put it together in KC. I do wish him luck though.