From BR Bullpen
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 185 lb.
Michael Franke played two seasons in the minor leagues and has since played in his native Germany. He is the brother of René Franke.
When Franke was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2000, it was the first time in 43 years that a player born and raised in Germany signed a contract with a MLB organization. Claus Helmig had been the most recent signee. It began a series of signings in Germany, as Franke was followed by Tim Henkenjohann and Simon Gühring in 2002, Rodney Gessmann in 2007 and three others in 2008.
Franke hit poorly in his US debut, batting .151/.213/.198 in 26 games as the backup third baseman for the 2001 AZL Brewers. In 2002, he hit .202/.298/.257 for the same club as a utility infielder to conclude his US career.
Returning to Germany, Franke was just 1 for 15 with 4 walks in the 2003 European Championship. Joining the Paderborn Untouchables, he hit .289/.429/.422 in Bundesliga in 2003 as a part-time catcher. In 2004, he batted .342/.430/.493 to finish 7th in Bundesliga's Southern division in slugging. He alternated between catcher, first base, second base, third base, DH and even pitched. In the 2004 European Championship B-Pool, he hit .350/.409/.700.
In 2005, Franke hit .375/.480/.538 for Paderborn to finish 6th in OPS. He was left off the German team for the 2005 European Championship. Franke produced at a .408/.456/.592 clip in 2006 to finish 6th in Bundesliga south in average and slugging. His 10 doubles led the division.
Franke batted .354/.358/.631 for the 2007 Untouchables. He was third in the southern Bundesliga in RBI (26), led in home runs (5) and was 3rd in slugging percentage. In the 2007 European Championship, he hit .294/.333/.412 to help Germany finish 4th. He was 3 for 12 with a double in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, posting the second-best average on the German squad.
Franke was 3 for 11 with a double in the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament as a part-time first baseman.