The Tampa Bay Rays have had the top farm system in baseball the last few years. Some of those players are ready to make their mark at the big league level.
Shortstop Wander Franco is one of those players in the Rays organization.
Franco has been named the top baseball prospect for the second year in a row by Baseball America. A player is rarely the top prospect two years in a row.
Joe Maurer, Andrew Jones, Bryce Harper, and Wander Franco are the only players to man the top prospect for two consecutive years.
The 20-year-old Franco has not played above the Class A level. But he has been impressive in the 175 games he has played.
If not for the pandemic that canceled the minor league season in 2020, Franco would be battling for a roster spot in Tampa this season.
Franco has hit .336 with 20 homers and 110 RBI’s in two minor league seasons. He will get a long look in spring training this spring to show the Rays what he can do against major league pitching every day.
Franco is a switch hitter. He has all the tools and ability to be one of this generation’s best switch hitters. He has more power from the left-side than the right side. Eighteen of his career home runs have come left-handed.
Although Franco did not play organized baseball in 2020, he did work out with the Rays most of the season. He was also at Port Charlotte as part of the Rays playoff roster of 40.
Franco was also part of the playoff roster pool.
Franco suffered a biceps injury in the Dominican Republic in November. He was immediately shut down and appears healthy for spring training.
The Rays are all set along the infield’s right side, with Joey Wendle, Willy Adames, Brandon Lowe, Yandy Diaz, and Michael Brosseau.
Franco may get some looks at second and third base in addition to shortstop this spring. Versatility matters to the Rays and they may want to see how he handles playing another position.
The Rays will not be able to keep Franco in the minors for long. It may be that the Rays may have to facilitate a trade to open up a roster spot for Franco.
Look for Franco to start the season at Class AA Montgomery, but get a call up to the big league club at some point this season.
Once Franco is in Tampa, he will be here for good. There will be no turning back. The Wander Franco is about to begin in Tampa.
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