NL East Notes: Espinosa, Cowgill, Murphy

The Phillies aren't considered to have a particularly deep farm system but one upcoming gem could exist in the form of 20-year-old third baseman Maikel Franco.  A scout tells CBS Sports' Danny Knobler (Twitter link) that Franco is the "best impact bat I've seen in minors this year."  Franco posted a .259/.322/.395 line over his first three pro seasons but delivered a .925 OPS in 289 PA at High-A ball this year and already has two homers in four games since being promoted to Double-A.  Baseball America ranked Franco as the Phillies' eighth-best prospect before the season, saying "he has a ceiling of a power-hitting corner infielder, but he'll have to continue to make offensive adjustments, especially in recognizing offspeed stuff."

Here's the latest from around the division…

  • Danny Espinosa played two Triple-A games at shortstop this weekend, leading a few rival evaluators to tell Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that it seems as if the Nationals could be showcasing Espinosa's shortstop ability for a possible trade.  Kilgore isn't sure, since the Nats need Espinosa for infield depth and "trading Espinosa now would be the epitome of selling low."  Espinosa has just a .465 OPS though 167 PA and has battled both a torn rotator cuff and a fractured wrist this season.
  • The Mets offered Collin Cowgill to the Angels in exchange for right-hander Matt Shoemaker but the Halos weren't interested, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (Twitter link).  Cowgill was designated for assignment last week and the Mets are known to be exploring trades for the outfielder.  Shoemaker, 26, has a 4.49 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 4.89 K/BB ratio in 16 starts at Triple-A Salt Lake City this season.
  • As part of a reader mailbag,'s Anthony DiComo opines that a long-term extension for Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy doesn't seem like "a realistic expectation at this point."  This could open the door for prospect Wilmer Flores, who currently has an .853 OPS in his first Triple-A season.  Murphy will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and is controlled through the 2015 season.
  • In NL East news from earlier today, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that the Phillies had outrighted Michael Martinez to Triple-A, we heard some Ricky Nolasco rumors, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro told CBS Sports' Jon Heyman that he is putting a high price tag on his star pitchers and The New York Daily News' Andy Martino shared a few items about the Marlins, Mets and Nationals.

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