Cubs pitching prospect Kohl Franklin felt ‘unreal’ in first live session after injury
Over one year removed from an oblique injury that derailed Kohl Franklin’s 2021 season, the 2018 6th-rounder took the mound for live at-bats on the backfields of the Cubs complex in Mesa, Arizona.
Kohl threw right around 15 pitches and faced a mix of Cubs prospects, including the 19-year-old Yohendrick Pinango who possesses some of the best bat-to-ball ability in the Cubs system.
“I felt unreal,” Franklin said after taking the mound.
Perhaps the most eye-opening part of the day was a report that Franklin’s velocity sat between 97-99 mph with his fastball. The right-hander’s last recorded game action came in 2019, where he averaged just 92 mph on his fastball. Franklin also adds a curveball and changeup into his repertoire, a mix that could vault him into one of the best arms in the system with added control.
Franklin’s velocity gains could be due in part to the prospect development camp the Cubs ran this offseason for around 30 of the organization’s top talents. Housing, meals and other necessities were all covered by the Cubs organization. The first two months of the program — running from November through December — focused on strength and conditioning. It allowed players like Franklin to add good mass to their body and train for a mix of speed and strength in the hopes of seeing velocity gains on the mound. For Franklin, early indications are that he achieved tangible results.
[MORE: Cubs prospect notebook: Observations and takeaways from Arizona camp]
“That was the biggest thing — overcoming that mental block I had in my head,” Franklin said. “Where I could kind of like tell myself, ‘I’m good, I’m healthy.’”
Franklin’s assignment for the 2022 season remains up in the air, but this added velocity and health should give him an edge no matter which level he takes the mound.