The Rays reassigned Franco to their minor-league camp Monday, Neil Solondz of the Rays Radio Network reports. Tampa Bay's demotion of its top prospect doesn't come as a major surprise, as Franco was always expected to get a little more seasoning in the upper levels of the minors before making his MLB debut at some point later this season. Franco made a positive impression over his seven games with the Rays during the Grapefruit League slate, going 5-for-17 with a home run.
Franco went 2-for-3 with a solo home run in Wednesday's Grapefruit League win over the Pirates, with Adam Berry of MLB.com reporting the round tripper appeared to land on the roof of the Rays' office behind right field at Charlotte Sports Park. The Rays will do their best to stick to what would seem to be a level-headed approach of giving Franco some more minor-league seasoning for at least part of 2021, but the elite prospect may simply force the team's hand with respect to speeding up the timeline for his majors debut. Franco's second-inning blast off reliever Miguel Yajure easily scaled the boardwalk neighboring the right-field fence before finally making its descent, giving him a very memorable first hit of spring after an 0-for-5 tally over his first pair of Grapefruit League outings. Franco should continue to see plenty of at-bats for the balance of spring training, and although his pedigree keeps any possibility in play, it's likeliest he opens 2021 in the minors, potentially at Triple-A Durham.
Franco is no longer dealing with the shoulder issue that hindered him in winter ball and feels good to begin spring training, Steve Carney of Sports Radio 620 WDAE reports. Franco was diagnosed with biceps inflammation and shoulder soreness following an injury while playing winter ball, but he wasn't dealing with any structural damage or long-term issues. The Rays should continue to monitor his status early in spring training to prevent any further issues as he resumes baseball activities, but he should have a fairly normal spring as long as he doesn't encounter any setbacks. The league's top prospect will have his preparedness closely monitored while serving as a non-roster invitee during spring training, but he could be on track to make his major-league debut at some point in 2021.
Rays general manager Erik Neander says that Franco (biceps), the organization's top prospect, will have every aspect of his physical and mental preparedness closely monitored while he plays out his spring training invite, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The 19-year-old phenom is considered to be relatively close to the big leagues despite his precocious age and the lost 2020 minor-league season. Franco is not only considered the Rays' top prospect by far, but he's been the consensus No. 1 in all of baseball two years running. Winter ball was supposed to help Franco make up for some lost developmental time late in 2020, but he was only able to log five games before shoulder soreness and biceps inflammation led to a shutdown. He's not expected to face any limitations once spring training begins, and Neander notes that Franco's elite pedigree notwithstanding, the shortstop will have "nothing handed to him" and will see his physical, emotional and mental maturity heavily evaluated during his time around the big-league club over the next several weeks. Franco's most recent minor-league stop was High-A Charlotte back in 2019, and given his level of dominance at that level, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see him already start the 2021 campaign at Triple-A Durham.
Franco (biceps) was invited to the Rays' big-league camp Monday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Franco might not be given serious consideration for an Opening Day roster spot, as he's yet to play above High-A, but his debut probably isn't too far off. While he's still just 19 years old, his bat is incredibly advanced for his age, as he owns a career .336/.405/.523 slash line with more walks than strikeouts in 175 games as a professional, numbers that would be impressive anywhere, let alone shortstop. Franco suffered a biceps injury in the Dominican Republic over the winter but appears to have escaped without any structural damage.
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