The second baseball followers have been ready for is lastly right here.
The Rays introduced Sunday that MLB’s consensus top prospect, Wander Franco, will be part of the main league membership Tuesday when it opens a sequence in opposition to the Red Sox.
We have some Wanderful information
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 21, 2021
“It’s a pretty special moment for somebody in this room…”
The second Wander & his teammates have been informed he was going to The Show by our supervisor Brady Williams.
Congrats, Wander! pic.twitter.com/mN1fQ74Obw
— Durham Bulls (@DurhamBulls) June 21, 2021
In a season the place numerous the sport’s top prospects have flourished, Franco would be the newest huge identify to succeed in the large leagues. The final 12 months he wasn’t ranked on the top was in 2018, when a younger Blue Jays prospect named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was No. 1 and a Padres shortstop named Fernando Tatis Jr. was No. 2, according to MLB Pipeline’s rankings. The year prior, Shohei Ohtani was No. 1 and Ronald Acuna Jr. was No. 6.
As Franco prepares to placed on a Rays uniform for the primary time, this is all it is advisable know concerning the sport’s newest uber-prospect.
Franco is a five-tool expertise
This expression will get thrown round rather a lot, however by all accounts, it is the case with Franco.
On baseball’s 20-to-80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline lists all 5 of Franco’s instruments as grading out at 50 or above. His energy acquired a 60 grade, his arm and pace each registered at 55, his fielding software stood at 50 and his hit software checked in at 80 — a uncommon feat.
And Franco has definitely earned these grades. He has been on a triples tear of late at Triple-A with 4 in his previous 5 video games, to go along with a stolen base. In 2019, the final minor league season earlier than the coronavirus shut down play in 2020, Franco tallied 18 stolen bases in 114 video games break up between Single-A and Single-A superior.
The energy? The switch-hitting Franco makes use of his lightning-quick arms to generate loads of it from each side of the plate. As a 17-year-old in rookie ball, he launched 11 homers in 61 video games and posted a .587 slugging share. He adopted that up with 9 homers as an 18-year-old in 2019 and had seven in 38 video games at Triple-A as a 20-year-old this 12 months.
These aren’t low-cost house runs, both.
In an period the place batters are putting out at document charges, Franco is a constant contact hitter. His 11.6 % strikeout price is the very best of his profession and it is the primary time his price has reached double digits or exceeded his stroll price. He has been praised not just for his skill to make contact on pitches within the strike zone, but in addition to determine pitches outdoors the zone. In 213 minor league video games, he has 95 walks to only 74 strikeouts.
Put all that collectively, and his profession slash line is .333/.400/.538.
The largest query mark with Franco has at all times been his glove. He is a pure shortstop, however the Rays have tried him at second and third base. They promoted Taylor Walls earlier within the season, and he is recognized for having probably the greatest gloves amongst shortstop prospects.
But scouts grade Franco’s arm as above-average and have stated that he can deal with quick. Should he want to maneuver off the place, nevertheless, he might put his pace to make use of as a effectively above-average participant on the scorching nook or the keystone.
He’s nonetheless younger
When Franco makes his MLB debut this week, he’ll develop into the youngest participant within the sport.
His rise to the large leagues has been extremely quick: he has by no means spent greater than 62 video games at a single degree of the minors and he skipped Double-A altogether.
And it is not as if he got here out of nowhere. Before Ohtani introduced that he can be becoming a member of a significant league crew for the 2018 season, Franco was listed by MLB Pipeline as the best international prospect more likely to signal with a big-league membership in 2017. He signed with the Rays on July 2, 2017, for a $3.825 million bonus, in keeping with MLB Pipeline, as a 16-year-old.
Many of the sport’s top worldwide prospects battle after they initially attain the minors, however But Franco proved early that he might deal with pitching within the U.S. and rapidly put himself within the dialogue among the many sport’s greatest prospects.
He comes from a baseball household
Like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Cody Bellinger, Franco has baseball bloodlines. And like Guerrero, Tatis and Acuna, he shares a reputation along with his relations.
Franco’s father, Wander Franco, was a minor league participant within the Nineties, and older brothers Wander Javier Franco and Wander Alexander Franco have performed up to now decade. Javier Franco began with the Royals group and ended with the Giants in 2018. Alexander Franco began with the Astros and ended with the Giants in 2019, according to ESPN. Wander Samuel Franco, the Rays prospect receiving the promotion Tuesday, would be the first in his rapid household to succeed in the large leagues.
But the Francos aren’t the one ones within the household to play professionally within the U.S. Uncles Willy and Erick Aybar hung out within the majors, with Willy enjoying three of his 5 seasons with the Rays and Erick spending 10 of his 12 years with the Angels.
He has been in comparison with Vlad Jr.
Inevitably, when two younger prospects soar by the minors and attain consensus No. 1 standing, comparisons are going to be made.
It’s simple to see why with Guerrero and Franco. Both have been extremely touted worldwide signees who rapidly confirmed off a few of the greatest hit instruments scouts had seen within the minors. They routinely picked up 80 grades as gamers who might contend for batting titles. It additionally did not harm that each gamers have been with AL East organizations and each performed on the left aspect of the infield.
The distinction has tended to be general bundle vs. higher hitter. Franco can do every thing effectively, if not nice, whereas Guerrero was at all times thought to be a below-average runner and defender who additionally simply may occur to be the following Miguel Cabrera within the batter’s field.
MLB Pipeline asked executives across the league in 2020 to resolve which participant can be greatest. Franco acquired probably the most votes as the higher general participant and Guerrero picked up the win as the higher hitter.
It is additionally necessary to remember with a prospect like Franco that he may not instantly take off. Guerrero was a strong hitter his first two seasons within the huge leagues, but many followers questioned whether or not he was overrated. Now, he is one of many front-runners for AL MVP and he is nonetheless solely 22.
Now MLB followers who have not been keeping track of the minors could make a dedication for themselves. The Rays and Jays will face off July 2-4 in Buffalo and July 11th of September in St. Petersburg.