ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The Tampa Bay Rays are expected to select infielder Wander Franco (WAHN-der FRAHN-co) from Triple-A Durham. To make room on the active roster, right-handed pitcher Drew Rasmussen was optioned to Durham. A corresponding move to the 40-man roster will be announced on Tuesday.
Franco, 20, will wear No. 5. He was ranked by Baseball America and MLB.com as the top international free agent when he signed with the Rays out of the Dominican Republic on July 2, 2017. In three minor league seasons, he is a .332 (275-for-829) hitter with 48 doubles, 20 triples, 27 home runs, 145 RBI and 27 stolen bases. In 2020, he was part of the Rays 60-man player pool and spent the summer at the alternate training site in Port Charlotte. He was named the Minor League Player of the Year by the Rays Baseball Operations department in 2019 and the Appalachian League Player of the Year in 2018.
Franco hit .315/.367/.586 (51-for-162) with 11 doubles, six triples, seven home runs, 35 RBI and five stolen bases in 39 games this season for Durham, including .371 (26-for-70) with three home runs and 17 RBI since the beginning of June and a 14-game hitting streak from June 1-17. Through Saturday, he led Triple-A East with 24 extra-base hits, was tied for first with 35 RBI and ranked among league leaders in avg. (.323, second), runs (30, third), hits (51, second), doubles (11, tied for seventh), triples (6, first), total bases (95, second), slugging pct. (.601, fifth) and on-base plus slugging pct. (.977, fifth).
Franco will be 20 years, 3 months and 21 days old on Tuesday and will become the second-youngest player in Rays history at the time of his debut for the club. B.J. Upton was 19 years, 11 months and 10 days old when he debuted in 2004.
Franco is the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in baseball. He entered the season ranked by Baseball America and MLB.com as the No. 1 overall prospect for a second straight year. He became the fourth player to rank as Baseball America’s top prospect in back-to-back years, joining Bryce Harper (2011-12), Joe Mauer (2004-05) and Andruw Jones (1996-97). The publication also tabbed him as the Best Hitter for Average and Best Strike-Zone Judgment in the organization for a third consecutive year. Following the 2019 season, he became the fifth shortstop to earn the No. 1 overall prospect ranking from Baseball America, joining Corey Seager (2016), Jurickson Profar (2013), Alex Rodriguez (1995) and Chipper Jones (1993). He was also the youngest player to land atop MLB.com’s prospects rankings since they began in 2004.
COURTESY TAMPA BAY RAYS & MLBpressbox.com
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