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1. Wander Franco – SS
2020 Top-30
Age: 18 yr, Weight: 189 lbs, Height: 5-10
Hits/Throws: S/R
Acquired: J2
Future Value
Ceiling: 80
Realistic: 70
Current Level: A+, ETA: 2020
The best prospect I’ve ever seen. Wander is a perennial MVP candidate.

The top prospect in the game, and the best prospect I’ve ever seen! Wander Samuel Franco signed for $3.825 million, and was considered the top J2 player in the 2017 class. He comes from a family of baseball players. His uncle is Erick Aybar who had a lengthy big league career, and of course all fantasy leaguers know about his two brothers that share his name. At five-foot-ten, he lacks the traditional height you look for in a top prospect, but he makes up for it by being built like a running back. Franco isn’t a huge physical presence, but it’s a sturdy build. Thick shoulders and forearms, with a thick, strong lower half. Projecting out his body and what it will look like in a few years is hard to imagine, but not many teenagers possess this frame. Scarier even is the fact that he’s going to add strength.

The bat is elite. The switch-hitter is gifted with the best set of hands in the minor leagues. His ability to put the barrel on the baseball while controlling the strikezone is incredible. As Prospects Live’s Phil Goyette laid out here, Wander controls the zone better than anyone and puts himself in counts to do damage. Pitches most hitters just foul off, he’s hitting with authority. He consistently hits the ball hard and has at least plus raw power. But he hits the ball on the ground at a near 48% clip, and there is 30+ homer power here, but he needs to add more lift. In 768 career plate appearances, he’s walked 83 times (10.8% career rate) while only striking out 54 times (7% career rate). And those are statistics that make me laugh everytime I see them. The bat control is so insane that he went two weeks without a swing and miss while he was terrorizing the Midwest League. He was the best hitter in the Midwest League before his end of June promotion to the Florida State League. He hit .318/.390/.506 for Bowling Green, and after getting promoted to the High-A Charlotte, he hit .339/.408/.464. He did this as an 18-year-old, and won’t turn 19 until March 1st.

Defensively, he’s likely moving off of shortstop due to the thicker frame. But in orgs that lack the shortstop depth the Rays have, he could stick there. The hands and arm are strong enough for the position, but odds are the Rays will have stronger defenders available that can push him to either second or third base. He’s an aggressive fielder, which can make him mistake prone, sometimes throwing the ball he should just eat. That aggressiveness follows him to the basepaths. He’s a plus runner. But I don’t think he has a season where he posts greater than 20 steals, but he should contribute 10-15 for several seasons. The bat is elite, and it’s better than Vlad Jr. at this stage. It’s an 80-hit tool paired with 60-raw pop.