The next great young baseball star is one step closer to making his major league debut.
Sources tell The Athletic’s Josh Tolentino and Robert Murray that the Tampa Bay Rays will promote 18-year-old infielder Wander Franco to High-A Charlotte, where he will be the youngest player in the Florida State League by more than a year.
The timing of the move is not apparent yet, but he is expected to join the Stone Crabs for their next game on Tuesday.
Franco has true five-tool potential with an excellent swing from both sides of the plate to go with a promising power-speed combination. He has the hands and range to play shortstop by may outgrow the position and shift to second.
Despite being more than three years younger than the average player in Class A, Franco slashed an impressive .319/.390/.502 with 29 walks to just 19 strikeouts in 267 plate appearances. This comes after he hit .351/.418/.587 in rookie ball last year with equally impressive discipline.
— #VoteMeadows (@RaysBaseball) June 18, 2019
Since he only turned 18 in March, Franco has a shot to be the next player to reach the majors before turning 20. Although the Rays are not known to aggressively promote players to the big leagues, he is likely to start next season in Double-A and could provide a key role in a potential 2020 playoff push.
It seems more likely that the Rays would keep him down until early 2021, so as to gain an extra year of team control, but sometimes circumstances for teams’ hands. The Washington Nationals probably didn’t expect Juan Soto to become one of their best hitters last season, but he answered the call and has become another one of baseball’s many young stars.
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