Ranked as MLBPipeline.com's No. 2 prospect for the 2017-18 international signing period, Franco has deep family ties to baseball. His father, Wander, played professionally, and he has a pair of older brothers currently in the Giants' and Astros' systems. He's also the nephew of Padres shortstop Erick Aybar. However, it was the teenager's high ceiling as a switch-hitting shortstop that netted him a $3,825,000 signing bonus from Tampa Bay when the international signing period opened on July 2. The deal is already looking like a steal for the Rays after Franco dazzled with his hitting ability during his pro debut as a 17-year-old in the Rookie-level Appalachian League.
The Dominican Republic native has impact potential offensively. With his combination of bat speed, strong wrists and feel for manipulating the barrel, Franco knows how to generate hard contact from both sides of the plate, with enough speed to hit atop a lineup and enough power to serve as a middle-of-the-order force. Those qualities should enable Franco to hit for a high average, and with considerable physical development ahead of him, he's merely scraping the surface of his power potential.
Franco also impresses in the field, earning plaudits from evaluators for his hands, range and actions at shortstop, not to mention a high level of confidence that belies his age. Some evaluators do believe he'll ultimately outgrow the position and shift over to second base, though such a move would do little to detract from his overall upside.
SS Wander Franco assigned to Princeton Rays.
Tampa Bay Rays signed free agent SS Wander Franco to a minor league contract.