Wander Franco: A Star in the Making

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The Tampa Bay Rays struck gold in Wander Franco. The 20-year-old hasn't even played a full MLB season, but he already looks like a 10-year veteran.

By Zach Smith

Franco caught the attention of big league scouts as a teenager, and he was ranked as one of the best international prospects in his class in 2017.

He signed with the Rays organization in July of 2017, and he made his professional debut with the Princeton Rays in 2018.

Franco immediately punished his competition, and he was named the Appalachian League MVP at just 17 years old after he hit .374 with 11 home runs and 57 RBI.

Baseball America ranked Franco as the 4th best prospect to start 2019, and he certainly lived up to the hype. After a stellar campaign, Franco earned a spot in the Futures All-Star Game that year.

By the start of the 2020 season, Franco was named the best prospect in all of baseball, however, the COVID-19 pandemic kept him off the field for quite some time.

Franco began the 2021 campaign in Triple-A with the Durham Bulls, and the 20-year-old produced right away. In 39 games, Franco drove in 37 runs to go along with a .315 batting average.

It wasn’t long before Tampa Bay realized they had a star in the making. Franco made his MLB debut on June 22, and he hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning to mark his first career hit.

On September 7, Franco reached base safely for the 37th game in a row. This is the longest on-base streak in MLB history for a player age 20 or younger, a record previously held by Mickey Mantle.

Franco played in 70 games for the Rays in the 2021 regular season, and he ended the year with a .288 batting average and 39 RBI.

After beginning the year in Triple-A, Franco ended up as the starting shortstop for the Rays as they entered the playoffs.

Franco played a huge role in the Rays late season success, and they trusted him enough to bat second in the lineup in the ALDS. The sky's the limit for Wander Franco, and he’s only getting started.