Tampa Bay Rays: Wander Franco’s Arrival end Yandy’s Time in Tampa?
By Seth Carter
The Tampa Bay Rays have the number one prospect in all the land. We were wondering how Wander’s arrival would impact the Rays’ roster.
For the second straight year, Baseball America has rated the Tampa Bay Rays‘ Wander Franco number one in their annual list of MLB’s Top 100 Prospects. They gave the 2019 Minor League Player of the Year an ETA of 2020 at the tender age of 19-years-old.
Between the ages of 17 and 18, Franco has compiled a .928 OPS in 175 games.
Franco has 54 strikeouts and 83 walks across his two seasons in the minor leagues.
In an article in September of 2019, by the spectacular Juan Toribio of MLB.com, Franco was quoted saying,
"“I’m going to work hard,” Franco said. “I’m going to work really hard for next season. My goal is to play in the big leagues next year.”"
Franco was graded at the maximum score of 80 by both Baseball American and MLB.com. The experts are telling us that it really doesn’t get any better than this with a bat.
We are all excited about the soon-to-be-superstar to arrive. The question remains: Whose job will he take?
Willy Adames is coming off a season in which he hit 20 homers and led all American League shortstops in defensive runs saved.
Adames is 24-years-old.
It seems like the natural spot for Franco is at third. Putting a natural shortstop at third base is a great way to increase the quality of defense at the hot corner. Here’s what MLB Pipeline had to say about the prospect of Franco moving positions:
"He could outgrow the position and shift over to second or possibly third base, though such a move would do little to detract from his All-Star-caliber ceiling."
This brings us to Yandy Diaz. Many are pegging Diaz as a breakout player this season. There’s hope that he can turn his hard-hit rates into home runs.
Diaz saw a surge in homers after coming to the Rays last season. He came to the team with one career homer and ended up belting 14 in the regular season and two more in the Wild Card game against the A’s.
There’s no doubt he has a high-ceiling, but he still put over 50% of his balls-in-play on the ground last year.
Diaz also saw his average and on-base percentage take a hit in favor of more flyballs.
Diaz could be playing for his future in the first half of this season.
One way or the other, Franco is coming. Many players on the Rays’ roster have to be looking over their shoulders.
Through all the excitement revolving around the arrival of the game’s best prospect, we haven’t talked much about who would have to sacrifice playing time or even their spot on the team, to make room for the wunderkind.
I have two questions for you. When do you think Wander Franco will make his arrival in St. Pete and where do you think his primary position will be?