Wander Franco, Baseball’s Top Prospect, is Coming Alive

Wander Franco, Baseball’s Top Prospect, is Coming Alive

The hype around Wander Franco was at an all-time high when the Tampa Bay Rays called him up in late June— it may have taken a bit, but he is beginning to show himself as the elite talent that he was thought to be.

“I feel like I was born to hit,” said Franco after he was promoted to the Major League. “It’s something God gave me.”

The Rays cleared the slate for Franco’s promotion back in May, trading starting shortstop Willy Adames to the Milwaukee Brewers along with pitcher Trevor Richards for a pair of the Brewers’ pitchers, Drew Rasmussen and J.P. Feyereisen. Franco had dominated the minor leagues to start 2021, hitting .315 for seven home runs and 35 RBIs in 39 games for Tampa Bay’s triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls.

The rookie shortstop made waves when he arrived at his first game in a $330,000 Rolls Royce Cullinan, only to record two hits, a home run, three RBIs, and a walk in five plate appearances. The Rays lost the game 9-5 to the Boston Red Sox, but Franco lived up to the expectations.

After a sparkling debut, the 5-foot-10 20-year-old regressed and looked, well, like a first-timer in the big leagues. He went four games without a hit and finished with a .194 batting average in the month of June, still at one home run.

As of the past four games, however, Franco has shown some new confidence at the plate— he has recorded six hits in his last four games for an average of .353, including another home run, and has raised his batting, on-base, and slugging percentages. Even when Franco is not getting on base, he is going out swinging, showing that he has the confidence to stick with what he knows and is not backing down from the pressure of the best teams in baseball.

Wander Franco home run: Watch Rays prospect hit a 3-run bomb in his MLB  debut vs. Red Sox [VIDEO] - DraftKings Nation
“I feel like I was born to hit,” said Wander Franco after he was promoted to the Major League. “It’s something God gave me.”
The Rays themselves have been struggling to recapture the form that they maintained earlier in the season, losing 12 of their last 17 after starting 43-24. Their midseason skid has demoted them to second in the American League East, 4.5 games off of the high-flying Boston Red Sox and four games against the third-place Toronto Blue Jays.

In a way, Franco’s promotion was meant to function as a wake-up call for the Rays, who had been resting on their laurels after enjoying a promising start to the campaign. Amaes’ trade and the young prospect’s arrival signified that no places on the roster were entirely safe, and the team had to continue pressing forward to win more games.

The message may not have been entirely received at first, as Franco has a major-league record of 5-6, but the Rays offense seems to be more aware.

On the other hand, the pitching has struggled; the Rays’ bullpen is allowing an average of 7.12 runs in the past six games, which is practically enough to cover the over in most games by itself. If the regular rotation can round back into their usual selves, which is the seventh-best unit in baseball, they will be back down the road towards the pennant.

Franco will be a major factor in deciding the divisional success of his team, needing to perform at a level high enough to help close a decent gap on the Red Sox. Boston has won nine of 10, is playing with the utmost confidence, and will be targeting a return for Chris Sale within the next month.

All in all, Franco’s first 10 games as a major-leaguer did not tear the curtains down like many had believed they would, but he is adapting to a new location and better opposition and is already getting better. If he continues trending in the right direction, he could become one of the better Tampa Bay players shortly after the All-Star break, and if all goes well, a division winner in his first season.

Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.

 

 


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About Grant Mitchell 33 Articles
My name is Grant and I am a DMV native and a sports junkie through and through. My love for sports started when I was four years old, when one day I flipped the channel to Sportscenter on ESPN while I was eating my morning breakfast— not much has changed since then! If I'm not exercising or jamming out to some good music, you can find me listening to, watching or reading about the world of athletics.