Rays invite Franco to Spring Training camp
The defending American League champs will have a big name in their Spring Training camp, and he isn't even out of his teenage years just yet. The Rays have invited top overall prospect Wander Franco to Major League Spring Training as a non-roster player, the club announced Monday. This will
The defending American League champs will have a big name in their Spring Training camp, and he isn't even out of his teenage years just yet.
The Rays have invited top overall prospect
This will be Franco's second non-roster invitation of his budding career. He also ended the 2020 season as a member of the playoff player pool during Tampa Bay's march to the World Series, though he never did officially crack the roster at any point during the postseason.
The switch-hitting shortstop, who will turn 20 on March 1, was recently named MLB.com's No. 1 overall prospect for the second consecutive season. Franco has drawn raves for his ability to drive the ball from both sides while showing an advanced approach beyond his years. He was last seen in the Minors in 2019, when he was hitting .327/.398/.487 with nine homers and 18 stolen bases in 114 games between Class A and Class A Advanced. He walked 56 times and struck out in only 35 cases over 495 plate appearances that summer. Only
Franco also played five games for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, but was shut down early with what was deemed a biceps issue. After running tests, the Rays believed he would be fully recovered for the spring but kept him from returning to LIDOM play as a precaution.
Franco's power is expected to grow as he matures with many evaluators believing that will be a plus tool in time, if it isn't already. The Dominican Republic native is a decent defender at the six right now but could slide over to second or third as he grows older and loses half a step. No matter his spot on the dirt, he has the skills to be a special hitter at the game's top level and will put that on display this spring in Major League camp.
As things stand, Rays pitchers and catchers are expected to report to the organization's Spring Training facility in Port Charlotte, Florida on Feb. 17 with position players reporting five days later. That could change if Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association come to an agreement to push back the start of the 2021 season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Tampa Bay also announced that first baseman/outfielder
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.