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.