The Tampa Bay Rays will be without the services of All-Star shortstop Wander Franco for the foreseeable future after recently placing him on the restricted list.
With Taylor Walls still dealing with a lingering oblique injury and the club already having reached its numerical season limit on optioning Vidal Brujan, the Rays were left with no other option than to call up rookie prospect Osleivis Basabe to fill the shortstop position. And the results have so far been favorable.
Basabe recorded his first major league hit with a double in Sunday's loss to the Guardians at Tropicana Field and then parlayed that momentum to the West Coast when the Rays began a three-game set with the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.
Monday's contest against the Giants began in frustrating fashion for the Rays as they recorded four hits and stranded five baserunners without scoring a run through the first three innings. Basabe then came through with a two-run single in the fourth inning to finally give the Rays a two-run lead. It was the spark the offense needed to get things rolling, as they went on to rout the Giants and win 10-2.
Basabe wasn't the only recently called-up rookie to help try to fill the big shoes of Wander Franco.
Rookie third baseman Curtis Mead made his major league debut against the Detroit Tigers just ten days earlier on August 4, and he had himself a night in the series opener against the Giants. Mead went 3-for-5 while crossing the plate twice, further propelling the club to a much-needed big win.
Replacing Wander Franco is more than a tall task, especially for rookies with next-to-no major league experience. However, it is promising for the team and its fans to see Basabe and Mead making meaningful contributions so soon after being called upon. Given the Rays' history of consistently landing promising minor-league prospects, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility to believe that these two rookies can continue to invigorate the offense in the absence of Franco as the postseason continues to move closer.