Tampa Bay Rays
A: Charlotte Stone Crabs
|2021||19||5’10″/ 189 lbs||S||R||July 2, 2017|
Scouting Grades/Report (20-80 grading scale)
Franco grew up in the Dominican Republic and dropped out of school after just the sixth grade so he could train to play professional baseball. Four years later, at 16, he was the prized international free agent in the 2017-18 pool and signed with the Rays for $3,825,000. He didn’t waste any time establishing himself as one of the most exciting prospects in his first full professional season. He took home the Rookie Appalachian League’s MVP award at the ripe young age of 17 while putting up impressive numbers against older competition, slashing .351/.418/.587.
In his move up to full-season ball in 2019, Franco continued to impress between Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte, slashing .327/.398/.487 and stealing 18 bases in 114 games. He earned a selection to the All-Star Futures Game where he was the starting shortstop and leadoff hitter for the American League squad. After this great season, the Rays named him their Minor League Player of the Year and he is their top prospect by a fairly large margin.
Franco is the ultimate hitter. He’s a switch hitter with extremely quick hands and extremely fast bat speed, while he crushes the ball to all fields. He attacks any ball within the zone and rarely ever swings and misses, with a 4.3 swinging strikeout rate in 2019. The now 19-year old stud shortstop has extreme discipline as he had more walks (83) than strikeouts (54) in his first two pro seasons. This all while hitting for a high .336 batting average. Franco hasn’t fully tapped into his power as of yet, but as he learns to drive the ball more and continues to make plus contact, that will no doubt come. He shows more pop potential on the left side of the plate, as 18 of his 20 pro career homers came from that side.
In the field, Franco is a smooth and rangy shortstop with great hands and solid arm strength. He has an advanced feel for the position, and while his slightly above-average speed and has a more compact build has made people wonder if he would be more fit for second or third, he has passed every test so far. Shifting him to the other infield positions could be on the table to add to his versatility which is something the Rays have done with other young and athletic infielders. Not only is he a great hitter, fielder, and overall player, Franco is also a great leader and sparks plenty of confidence. He should see the Major Leagues as early as next season, or even this season as he was put on the Rays’ 60-man roster pool for the shortened season, which was announced on Sunday.
It is difficult to find any weaknesses with the top overall prospect in all of baseball. One of them, as I mentioned is that he hasn’t hit for much power on the right side of the plate. He also hasn’t been a very efficient base stealer, getting caught almost as many times as he has stolen. Those are the only real concerns, other than maybe not sticking at short but that is hardly much of one.
Franco is a generational talent and is worth a third or fourth-round pick in Dynasty start-up leagues as he will most likely make his debut no later than early 2022. His fantasy floor is, in my opinion, something like a Jorge Polanco or Amed Rosario. It is so hard to find any holes in his game and he could give you consistent 20-20 and even 30-30 seasons when he reaches his full potential. The type of player I see him reaching is even as high as Francisco Lindor.