Tampa Bay Rays: Standout prospect Wander Franco avoids disaster

Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Tampa Bay Rays standout prospect Wander Franco is expected to be fully healthy for 2021 after an injury in winter ball.

It was the type of news that you didn’t want to see just before settling in to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday if you’re a Tampa Bay Rays fan. An injury to Wander Franco while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Luckily, it appears that Franco and the Rays have dodged a major bullet on the injury front as MLB.com’s Juan Toribio recently reported that positive news came back on Franco’s tests, revealing no structural damage to his shoulder or bicep area.

Franco hasn’t played in the Dominican Republic since late-November due to bicep soreness, returning to the United States to undergo testing and evaluation. While the Tampa Bays Rays don’t have any long-term injury concerns, they have shutdown Franco for the rest of winter so he can be ready to go for spring training.

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The top-ranked prospect in Major League Baseball, Franco’s appearance on Tampa Bay’s taxi squad during the 2020 postseason sent shockwaves through the fanbase as the idea of the game’s top prospect who has yet to play in a professional baseball game above High-A was on the cusp of making his MLB debut on the game’s biggest stage.

Unsurprisingly, Franco didn’t get into a postseason game, but it has lead many to speculate whether or not he could find himself on the Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day roster.

Appearing in just 175 games since joining the Rays, Franco owns a career .336/.405/.523 slash line with 20 home runs, 37 doubles, 14 triples, and more walks (83) than strikeouts (54).

His impressive numbers, elite skillset, and advanced approach at the plate all point to a soon-to-be 20-year-old shortstop who could realistically begin next season in the major leagues, but the long odds of that happening appear to be bleaker now.

Without more at-bats this winter and instead spending the next few weeks rehabbing, Franco will likely begin the year in the upper-minors as he continues to fine-tune his game. The extra time in the minors could also give the Rays time to have Wander Franco play additional positions around the infield.

The only thing better than Wander Franco being an elite shortstop prospect is a Wander Franco who can move around the diamond for an organization that routinely gets the most of their players.

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The Tampa Bay Rays dodged a major bullet with Wander Franco’s health, which is great news not only for Tampa Bay, but the baseball world in general.