The Next Phenom: Wander Franco

I want to bring attention to a 17-year-old international prospect who is already stateside and playing rookie ball and is mashing. His name is Wander Franco and is a SS for the Tampa Bay Rays who was the number one overall International Prospect last year and signed for $3.85 million. He is quickly rising up prospect lists and if you are in a dynasty league you need to grab him now if he’s still available.

Initial scouting reports on Franco were that he has a plus hit tool from both sides of the plate (He’s a switch hitter if that doesn’t get you anymore excited), plus speed, and an already great fielder but an average arm that could potentially move him to second base or the outfield. His power tool was originally scouted as average to potentially above average because scouts felt that he didn’t have much more projectability in his frame even at 16 years old. Something funny happened though when he arrived at extended spring training this year. He had put on a lot of muscle and developed much more power, receiving potential plus power grades now! He has a good pedigree with his uncles, Willy and Erick Aybar, who are both playing professional baseball. The best player comparison that I have found of him is Francisco Lindor, pretty easy comparison to make since he is a switch-hitting SS with great fielding ability and plus hit tools.

I mentioned that this kid is already stateside and playing rookie ball at 17 years old. It’s one thing to be doing that it’s another to be playing against guys years older than you and be mashing. Here are his stats through 28 games (127 PAs):

.379 .417 .647 6 21 30 3 6.3% 6.3% 168

These are impressive numbers for any player. He has collected at least a hit in every game except one so far in his professional debut and hit for the cycle on July 14th (5/6 2 HRs 6 RBI 3 R). Looking at his batted ball profile he is hitting a fair amount of balls in the air (35.2%) which is probably leading to the unexpected power production. He does have a HR/FB ratio of 16.2% which is unsustainable, but he also has an Infield fly ball percentage of 18.9% which should drop as well. He is pulling the ball 47.3% which is another indicator of the power increase. His BABIP is a little high at .365 but for a player of his speed it shouldn’t drop off too severely, probably to the .320ish range. Based on these stats this isn’t a fluke this is a kid who is mashing and could force his way up the minors quickly. As a final note I want to show this table that I found off of by jtmorgan who compared Franco to other young international studs and their starts:

Name League PA BB% K% 2B 3B HR SB BA OBP SLG wRC+
Wander Franco App 127 6.3% 6.3% 5 4 6 3 0.379 0.417 0.647 168
Ronald Acuna GCL/App 237 11.8% 17.7% 14 4 4 16 0.269 0.380 0.438 142
Juan Soto GCL/NY-Penn 207 8.2% 14.0% 14 3 5 5 0.368 0.420 0.553 188
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. App 276 12.0% 12.7% 12 3 8 15 0.271 0.359 0.449 122
Fernando Tatis Jr. AZL 188 5.3% 23.4% 13 1 4 14 0.273 0.312 0.426 108
Jesus Sanchez DSL 268 7.5% 11.9% 13 7 4 8 0.335 0.382 0.498 143

In Conclusion, if you are in a dynasty league or keeper league with an emphasis on prospects this is a guy you need to add now. He is mashing and could potentially be the next phenom who could force his way up to the majors by 2021.

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