It has been expected that the Tampa Bay Rays would sign top international free agent Wander Franco once the signing period began. Today, the Rays made that signing official.
Over a month ago, the Tampa Bay Rays were considered the favorites to land Wander Franco. The top international free agent, Franco is a 16 year old switch hitting shortstop who has impressive bloodlines. Two other brothers, also named Wander, are currently playing in the minors, and his uncle, Erick Aybar, is in the midst of his 12th major league season.
Today, that signing became official. The Rays have inked the top prospect to $3.825 Million signing bonus, bringing the top prospect into the fold. In doing so, they have used up a large portion of their $5.25 Million signing pool, although future trades could add to that amount.
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In Franco, the Rays are getting a player who could develop into quite an impressive hitter. At the plate, he is considered to have a polished approach from both sides. Although he may not have a lot of power, Franco has already displayed solid contact abilities and tremendous speed, leading him to be considered a future leadoff hitter.
Defensively, Franco has been praised for his solid approach at short, but there are questions as to his ability to remain at the position. Specifically, his body type is considered to be better suited to second base, and he may transition to the position in the future. If that does happen, Franco is still expected to be an above average defensive player at second.
Should a position change occur, Franco may find himself with a quicker route to the majors. Currently, the Rays do not have a second baseman listed amongst their top 30 prospects, although Brandon Lowe is doing his best to change that. Obviously, Franco is still a ways away from making an impact on the major league level, but he has the sort of projection that scouts dream about.
The Tampa Bay Rays have made a splash during the international signing period, inking Wander Franco to a contract. The top international free agent is heading to Tampa Bay.