Wander Franco – The next big thing
If you are in a dynasty league chances are Tampa Bay Rays switch-hitting prospect Wander Franco is already on a roster. Many scouts and people around the MLB believe he could be the clear-cut number one prospect in baseball after this season. He has all the tools to become a fantasy superstar, and who would not want a player like that on their team.
It is important for all fantasy baseball players to know a little about prospects. Because if you time your free agent picks ups correctly you could become a champion at the end of the season. Value can be found if the new player gets regular playing time, and often contenders who push for postseason glory want the extra help from within the organization. Wander Franco is definitely a player you should know about. He is already a must-own in dynasty formats, and if you play in dynasty please double-check if he is not on the free agent list. He is simply a player who should be owned in all dynasty formats.
Franco signed as an international prospect for $3,825,000 with the Tampa Bay Rays at the outset of the 2017-18 period. He was at the time ranked second respected MLB pipeline’s list. He is one of the many international prospects who shine in the minor leagues. Born in the Dominican Republic he made his move to the Appalachian League and Princeton Rays in 2018.
The 2018 season
Young Franco played 61 games in Appalachian League for Princeton Rays as a 17-year-old. He had an impressive BB/SO ratio of 27/19, and his triple slash line was equally impressive .351/.418/.587. Together with this he posted a 1.004 OPS. Stolen bases are a part of fantasy baseball life and thus always important. Franco was not particular impressive with 4 stolen bases, and 3 times he was caught stealing. Other usual fantasy stats include 46 runs, 11 home runs, and 57 RBI in 273 plate appearances. 10 of his 11 home runs came from the left side of the plate, where he has shown more power early in his career. These accumulated stats were enough to win Rookie-level Appalachian League’s MVP Award. It is important to remember he played with considerably older and more experienced competitors. According to Baseball Reference, the weighted age difference was 3.3 years for the Appalachian League in 2018!
The great 2018 season has seen Franco rise in all prospect rankings, and he has the tools to be number one after this year. Scouts love his high-ceiling with great bat speed and elite hands/wrists. He should be able to be above average in both power and batting average. The impressive BB/K ratio in his first season in the Appalachian league shows he can control the zone, and recognize pitches and spin. All tools which a very unusual for such a young player. He can also run, which can translate to considerably more stolen bases later in his career. The speed and power combination is something that is always interesting for fantasy. In the field he has shown impressive skills both in range and quick hands. It is possible he will move to 2B or even 3B, but that will not hurt his overall career value. His ceiling is simply too high.
A 2019 outlook
Wander Franco will start the season in Low-A Bowling Green, but he has a good chance to work his way up the minor’s ladder. It is important to remember he is only 18 years old and the Tampa Bay Rays have no reason to rush him. They know they have a special player, and want to maximize his value for the future. The Rays have been a patient club the last years with their young talent, but the trend around the league is younger players get the chance. Franco could possibly be the next international superstar like Juan Soto (Washington Nationals) and Ronald Acuna Jr (Atlanta Braves)
Fantasy players are always interested in estimated time of arrival (ETA) and for Franco it is not likely at all he will play in the MLB this season. A reasonable guess would be he makes his debut in 2021. Why do we talk about a player who will not contribute for the next two years? Well, Franco is a special talent and to keep track on this player is important. He is one of the few elite prospects who will probably dominate as soon as he gets the call.
We should all give Franco some time to acclimatize to the professional life as a baseball player in the United States. He just turned 18, and it is more to success than only in the ballpark. He has to feel comfortable with the everyday grind, but he has already come far, and he will be a very special player in the future.
Born: March 1, 2001 in Bani, Dominican Republic