The consensus top prospect in baseball, Wander Franco could make an impact in the majors as soon as 2020, despite the fact that he just turned 19. The Rays have amassed incredible depth in the majors at pretty much every spot on the field except for shortstop, which should tell you all you need to know about how they view him for both the near and long-term future.
Numbers to Know
- Date of Birth: 3/1/2001
- Height: 5'10"
- Weight: 189 lbs.
- Prospect Ranks: No. 1 at Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball Prospectus.
- Scott White's Rank: No. 1 Fantasy prospect
- 2019 Stats (A, A+): 114 G, .327/.398/.487, 9 HR, 43 XBH, 18 SB (56.3%), 11.3 BB%, 7.1% K%
- Career: 175 G, .336/.405/.523, 20 HR, 71 XBH, 22 SB (56.4%), 10.8 BB%, 7.0 K%
Known Injury History
It all starts with the hit tool, highlighted by that absolutely absurd strikeout rate. It's not quite Nick Madrigal levels, but given Franco's walk rate and power edge, it's arguably more impressive. It's a true 80-grade hit tool that could have Franco challenging for batting titles in the very near future, and there's pretty impressive pop for an 18-year-old playing in A ball. The fact that he is a switch hitter who maintains his plus plate discipline from both sides of the plate means we shouldn't have to worry about him struggling with platoon issues early on.
They're pretty negligible. He hasn't hit for much power early on from the right side of the plate, an issue that limited Yoan Moncada early in his career; he has been an actively, but hugely inefficient base stealer, so it's fair to wonder if the analytically inclined Rays will want him making outs on the base paths. He also may not be a long-term shortstop, given some concerns about his arm strength, though for Fantasy, that would hardly be a bad thing. And then there is the concern you'll have with any teenager who hasn't seen the upper minors yet.
"He might not ever produce big home run totals without a swing change, but it'd be ridiculous to alter this guy's swing considering how elite his performance has been. A scouting director once told me, 'Elite players are elite all the time,' and that has been true of Franco since he was a young teen. He's been a force of nature offensively, he plays a premium defensive position very well, and my degree of confidence in his ability to do both in perpetuity is high because that's all Franco has ever done." – Eric Longenhagen, FanGraphs.com
Mookie Betts has been a perennial .300 hitter who topped out at .346 in 2018, with 30-ish homers and 25-ish steals pretty much every year. Franco might not get as much help from his home park and lineup as Betts did in Boston, but with plus- to plus-plus tools all the way around, it might not matter much. Franco could develop into a legitimate five-category stud, and he might be even better in a points league.
Fantasy Bottom Line
Franco might not turn into all that, of course, but he seems about as safe as a 19-year-old prospect who hasn't gotten to Double-A yet can be. He's probably not a second-round Dynasty pick in startups yet — though he did go there in a recent mock we did — but anything after that is probably fair game. The floor might be something like Ozzie Albies, which feels absurd to type. But there really aren't any holes in Franco's game that have become apparent yet, and though Double-A might expose some, it sort of feels like he won't really face much trouble until he gets to the majors. We throw the word "generational" around a lot when it comes to prospects, but Franco is on that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. level.
So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda's huge breakout last season, and find out.