For Kohl Franklin, 2022 was a year filled with transitions. After missing 2020 due to Covid and 2021 due to a variety of injuries, Franklin had to shake off the rust from not pitching in a game that mattered for 2.5 years. The Cubs had him on pitch counts and innings limits right away and it wasn’t until June that we got to see him pitch into the fourth inning.
Kohl struggled at times to keep his composure. It is an adjustment only throwing 40 pitches in an outing. Kohl’s issues were actually more mental than physical. It’s hard to pace yourself knowing you’re going to throw an extremely low amount of pitches. Kohl tended to overthrow early and often. Once he calmed down after a mound visit, things tended to go much better.
It was not until August that all the restrictions were basically lifted and Kohl could relax knowing that he was going to go four or five innings. We also saw him approach double digit strikeouts a couple of times and he pretty much stayed with the repertoire he was using in 2019.
I talked to him several times throughout the summer. He mentioned that the Cubs really hadn’t done much tinkering with him because he was trying to get healthy rather than work on his arsenal. In July, the Cubs began to shorten his delivery. The first time out he gave up seven runs and the next time four. However, for the rest of August and September, Kohl Franklin looked pretty darn good coming down the stretch, including a sub 3.00 ERA in September.
Here are five things that Kohl is probably going to be eyeing to do in 2023.
1. 100 innings.
As previously mentioned, the Cubs kept his inning count down in 2022 on purpose and he was limited to 69.1 innings over a 5 and 1/2 month span. I could see him getting to 100-110 innings this coming year and that would put them on pace to get to 120 to 140 in 2024.
2. Get to Tennessee
While this might be the ultimate goal, it’s probably not going to happen coming out of spring training. Mr. Franklin will mostly start 2023 in South Bend for a while and his performance will dictate where he goes from there. While I would love to see him in Tennessee to start the year, I also want to see him earn his way there just as much as to see him play there.
3. Fourth Pitch
For almost all of Kohl’s professional career, he’s basically gone fastball, changeup, and curve. All of those are very good pitches for him as long as he puts them where he wants them. If he adds a slider this winter, he could be filthy right out of the gate. In fact, the day before Christmas saw its inception.
4. Keep Grinding
A 140 game season in the minor leagues is a mental haul. Players have to be mentally tough every day to remember the basics of what they need to do to be physically strong and to keep their mind in the game. They have to eat right, lift weights, and keep their flexibility at optimum levels. Kohl is probably one of the most positive people I’ve seen. He seems to greet everybody with a smile and he seems to thrive on personal interaction.
5. “Be mindful of the future, but not at the expense of the moment.”
Yes, I am breaking out the Phantom Menace quotes because it’s true. Being able to focus in the moment is everything in baseball, and, for Kohl, that will be what he has to do to succeed in 2023.
If Kohl Franklin gets off to a hot start in 2023, I’m going to be the first one cheering. He was one of my favorite players to watch last year because you could see the potential just dripping on every pitch. You could also see that he was amped up beyond belief and just needed to calm down and everything would do what it was supposed to do. The mental aspects of playing baseball are insane and enough to drive any normal person crazy. There is the old adage of one pitch at a time. That kind of attitude/mantra will do him well.