Top Prospect Wander Franco: If you do not know the name Wander Franco, you will learn it very soon. Franco, the number one prospect in baseball, is a shortstop in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Franco went yard in his sixth at-bat of Spring Training, and ever since that shot heard round the world, people have been asking when is Franco going to get called up to the show?
This has caused many conflicting opinions, but I am here to set the record straight regarding top prospect Wander Franco.
Top Prospect Wander Franco
Wander Franco was ranked as one of the best international prospects in the 2017 class. He signed with the Tampa Bay Rays on July 2, 2017.
Franco began his professional career with the Princeton Rays, an advanced A affiliate of Tampa Bay. At 17 years old, the Dominican shortstop hit for the cycle and lit the baseball world on fire.
In 2018, he was named the Appalachian League Player of the Year for slashing .374/.445/.636 at the plate. In addition to these impressive numbers, Franco went yard 11 times and drove in 57 runners throughout the season.
In 2019, Franco continued to climb the baseball prospect rankings list. He spent time with two new high A affiliates in the Rays organization, including the Bowling Green Red Hots and the Charlotte Stone Crabs. He was also named to the 2019 All-Star Futures Game.
Franco started the 2019 season as the fourth-ranked prospect in baseball. By 2020, he had officially become the top prospect in the game.
The Rays added Franco to their list of players eligible for the postseason, but he did not debut for Tampa Bay. However, Franco’s addition to this list showed how highly the organization values him.
2021 Spring Training
Top prospect Wander Franco turned 20-years-old less than a week ago, and he is already off to a hot start for the Rays in Spring Training. Franco has appeared in three games for Tampa Bay thus far with eight at-bats.
Franco was hitless in his first five at-bats of the Spring before unloading on a ball that hit the Tampa Bay Rays’ team offices in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Franco stated after the game that he had never hit a ball that far in his life.
His fellow Rays teammates were impressed by the shot, as well as the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff. After watching a replay of the homer, Pirates left-hander Shane McClanahan said,
“Oh my God, that thing went over the building. You don’t see that. I think that just showcases how truly special a player Wander Franco is. Kid’s 19 years old, 20 years old, and he’s putting balls over buildings.”
Franco has collected two hits in eight at-bats, including the home run, and grabbed five total bases. His batting average and OBP are both .250, and he is slugging .625. The Rays are very pleased with Franco thus far.
Rays’ catcher Mike Zunino told the press that,
“Just for him being so young and seeing the feel he has for the strike zone and for his ability to just to put the bat on the ball, it’s really impressive. He really has a bright future ahead of him.”
It’s very extraordinary to see a 20-year-old earn the respect of an MLB veteran like Mike Zunino. However, Zunino is not the only star who has complimented Franco’s ability.
Will We See Top Prospect Wander Franco on Opening Day?
I wish I could say that we will see Franco on Opening Day, but the answer will most likely be no. Wander Franco is a generational talent, and Tampa Bay is not focused on rushing him to the show.
Additionally, the Rays have the service time rule to worry about with Franco. This is a sad reality of the game, but it’s definitely being discussed in Tampa Bay’s front office.
To learn about MLB service time rules, click here.
Franco needs more experience because he has not garnered a single at-bat past Single-A in the Minor League. I see Franco spending the entire year in Double-A and Triple-A this season before getting the call at some point in 2022.
It may not be on Opening Day in 2022 because of service time manipulation if the rules are not changed, but I cannot see Franco spending more than a year and a half in the Rays’ farm system. He is the type of player whose presence will automatically make a club better.
Could we see Franco at the end of this season? Yes, but I do not believe Tampa Bay will jeopardize his development considering the level of competition in the American League East in 2021.
When Franco does get the call, make sure you tune into Rays’ baseball because this kid will be putting on a show for Tampa Bay.