Erik Neander Leaves Door Open For Such A Possiblity
The Tampa Bay Rays farm system was named as the number one farm system in all of MLB by Baseball America. Part of the reason is the sheer volume of talent, including eight players in their Top 100 prospect list ($$ required). The other is having the overall #1 prospect in minor league baseball in Wander Franco.
Franco, who doesn’t turn 19 until March 1st, split the 2019 season between the Bowling Green Hot Rods and the Charlotte Stone Crabs batting .327/.398/.487 with 9 homers. Remarkably, he walked 56 times while striking out just 35 times.
In his two years in the minors he has batted .336/.405/.523 with 20 homers in 768 plate appearances. He’s drawn 83 walks while striking out just 54 times. It is expected that he will open the season with the Rays Double-A affiliate Montgomery Biscuits.
While it’s more than likely that Franco will make his MLB debut sometime during the 2021 season, Rays GM Erik Neander did not throw cold water on the idea that Franco could force his way up sometime in 2020.
”If he picks up where he left off last year, I don’t know where that’ll lead, but it’s conceivable to think that there’s conversations to be had there deep into this season.’’ Neander said in the team’s spring training press conference in Port Charlotte.
What Neander and the Rays want to see from Franco is “to continue to progress in all aspects of the things you need to do to develop to be a major—league player, and a long-standing major-league player.”
Whether or not Franco debuts in 2020, it is telling how highly regarded and talented he is. The fact that at the age of 19 he is considered a possible contributor to a late season push for an expected playoff caliber team speaks volumes.