Tampa Bay Rays: Wander Franco to Play in Olympic Qualifiers
By Seth Carter
The Tampa Bay Rays own the best farm system in the land and with it, comes the best individual prospect in all of the land.
The Tampa Bay Rays‘ star prospect, Wander Franco has had a pretty amazing week. First, he played in his first Major League spring training game last Thursday. He got his first hit on Friday.
Today, he celebrates his nineteenth birthday. As a present, news broke that he would be representing the Dominican Republic in baseball’s return to the Olympics. Franco will be joining Dominican legend, Jose Bautista in the qualifiers in Arizona between March 22-26.
Franco is currently the consensus number one prospect in all of baseball.
After 12 years without baseball, the 2020 Olympics will bring back the greatest sport on earth.
Japan, Mexico, Israel, and South Korea have already qualified for the Olympic games. The Americas qualifiers in Arizona will host the Dominican Republic, Unites States, Canada, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. The winner of the tournament will qualify for the fifth spot. The teams that finish second and third in the Americas Qualifiers will have a chance to compete for the sixth and final spot in the qualifying tournament.
So far this spring, Franco has one hit in five plate appearances with no walks, one strikeout, and one run scored. At age 18 last season, Franco slashed .327/.398/.487 between Charlotte and Bowling Green. He compiled 27 doubles, seven triples, nine homers, 53 RBI, 18 stolen bases and was caught stealing 14 times. He walked 56 times while striking out just 35 times in 495 plate appearances.
Bautista hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2018 and has been training to return at age 39 as a pitcher or a two-way player. He is not expected to pitch for the Dominican team during the qualifiers but he will man first base and is expected to play an important role for the squad.