Iker Franco

From BR Bullpen

Iker Franco Arce

  • Bats Right, Throws: Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 240 lb.

BR Register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Iker Franco has played 19 seasons in the minors (as of 2016).

He was originally signed by Tampa Bay Devil Rays scout Jorge Calvo Jr. in 1998. He hit only .194/.225/.282 for the 1998 DSL Devil Rays. In 1999, he was again hitting poorly with the DSL Devil Rays (3 for 21, 2 2B, 0 BB) but better in his Mexican League debut with the Tigres de México (4 for 13, 4 BB, 6 R, 3 RBI). In 2000, he played for the Tigres (.255/.283/.490 in 19 G), the Hudson Valley Renegades (.260/.321/.411 in 22 G) and St. Petersburg Devil Rays (0 for 4).

Franco was the primary backstop for the 2001 Charleston RiverDogs, hitting only .200/.253/.287 with 81 K in 265 AB while committing 19 passed balls. On the other hand, he fielded .991 and threw out 37% of those who tried to steal. With the 2002 RiverDogs, he batted .259/.309/.398 in 64 games as a C-1B while hitting .353/.397/.529 in 26 games for the Tigres. He spent all of 2003 with the Tigres, now the Tigres de la Angelopolis. His batting line was .262/.326/.425 and he threw out 41% of would-be base thieves, while starting ahead of veteran Carlos Gastelum.

In 2004, he was back in the US, producing at a .209/.271/.289 clip for the Montgomery Biscuits while starting ahead of Robinson Cancel. Let go by Tampa Bay, he signed with the Atlanta Braves. He threw out 49.2% of base runners in 2005, split between the Mississippi Braves (.296/.323/.385 in 48 G) and Richmond Braves (.250/.294/.281 in 9 G), showing the best offense-defense mix yet in his US career. The St. Louis Cardinals liked him enough to take him in the minor league portion of the 2005 Rule V Draft.

The Baja California native produced at a .232/.284/.374 clip with 10 homers in 340 AB for the 2006 Springfield Cardinals, throwing out 47% of those who tried to steal. In winter ball, he batted .248/.311/.477 for the Yaquis de Obregón and threw out an amazing 64% of base thieves. His 10 home runs were two shy of making the Mexican Pacific League top 10 list. A free agent, he was re-signed by the Braves. Backing up Corky Miller at Richmond, he hit .220/.302/.299; his strength remained his throwing arm (48% CS). The numbers with the 2007-2008 Yaquis were similar - .212/.281/.341, 52% CS.

In 2008, his US career over, he returned to the Tigres, now the Tigres de Quintana Roo. He did very well, hitting .284/.343/.505 with 22 homers while throwing out 51% of those who tried to steal. He tied Mendy López for 4th in the Mexican League in homers (3 of the top 5 being former major leaguers) and he was 9th in RBI (73). That kind of production made him the starter on the Mexican national team at the 2008 Americas Baseball Cup, ahead of former major leaguer Noé Muñoz. He contributed plenty, going 8 for 16 with 2 walks and 4 runs while playing error-free ball as Mexico won a spot in the 2009 Baseball World Cup. Had he qualified (he was .6 plate appearances shy), he would have tied Juan Valdez for second in average, behind César Quintero. He did not make the tourney All-Star team as Quintero was also a catcher and got the nod. That winter, he hit .282/.315/.571 with 14 HR and 36 RBI in 49 games for Obregón. He was 4th in the LMP in dingers (two behind leader Luis Garcia) and would have been third in slugging had he qualified.

Franco hit .273/.348/.462 with 16 homers and 68 RBI for Quintana Roo in '09, throwing out 53% of those who tried to steal. He also saw action at 1B as the Tigres picked up veteran Raúl Casanova. He batted just .225/.323/.360 for the Yaquis in an off-winter. In 2010, he fell to 11 HR and a .259/.354/.415 batting line for the Tigres and threw out 44% on the basepaths. In the winter, he hit .273/.374/.442, was 7th in the LMP with 39 walks and tied Yurendell de Caster for 8th in RBI (44). He helped Obregón win the 2011 Caribbean Series, their first Caribbean Series title, hitting .316/.435/.368 to finish 6th in OBP (between Cancel and Barbaro Canizares). He was named the All-Star catcher for the Series.

In the summer of 2011, he helped Quintana Roo win its first Mexican League title, producing at a .276/.367/.508 clip with 23 homers and 74 RBI, though his 34% caught stealing rate was one of his lowest (though still respectable). He placed 10th in the LMB in homers (between Refugio Cervantes and Willis Otanez) and second with 7 sacrifice flies (one shy of Carlos Sievers). He was named finals MVP. In 2011-2012, he batted .260/.378/.354 for the Yaquis and was 5th in the LMP with 36 walks (between Flavio Romero and Jermaine Curtis). In the finals, he came up big in the clincher with 3 runs and 3 RBI, falling a triple shy of the cycle. He hit .267/.294/.333 in the 2012 Caribbean Series and was named the All-Star catcher again.

With the 2012 Tigres, he batted .269/.370/.415 and threw out 27% of base-stealers. He hit .254/.338/.429 in the winter. He was only 1 for 12 with a walk, 2 RBI and 7 whiffs in the 2013 Caribbean Series but Obregón won its second title in three years. His caught stealing rate bounced back up to 53% with Quintana Roo in '13 though his offense faded (.228/.347/.309, 3 HR, 15 RBI in 52 G). He batted .276/.371/.329 for the 2013-2014 Yaquis. He hit .245/.322/.342 in 2014 and threw out 53% on the bases.

After his first winter without playing in at least a decade, he batted .267/.348/.366 for the 2015 Tigres and continued to show his cannon arm (49.1% CS). The team won its third title in five years. In the winter, he hit .268/.377/.408 for Obregón. He then joined the Spanish national team that March for the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. In Spain's opening losing to Colombia, he was a defensive substitute for Blake Ochoa in the 9th. In their 5-3 loss to France, he pinch-hit for Daniel Martinez with the bases loaded, two outs and a 5-1 deficit in the bottom of the 6th. He drew a four-pitch walk from Esteban Prioul to force in Engel Beltre. Lesther Galván pinch-ran for him. He then returned to Quintana Roo for the summer of 2016.