Fantasy Baseball prospect call up: Will Rays’ Wander Franco prove worth the wait? We’re about to find out


Wander Franco, arguably the most talented and most hyped prospect since Vladimir Guerrero, is expected to make his MLB debut this week, as first reported by the Tampa Bay Times Sunday. Franco is expected to be called up in time for Tuesday’s series opener against the Red Sox — and in time to be in all Fantasy baseball lineups for this week. 

Franco has been the consensus top prospect in baseball over the past two seasons and he’s backed the hype up in his first taste of the upper minors this season, hitting .323/.376/.601 in 38 games for Triple-A Durham. Per wRC+ — which adjusts for home park — Franco has been the eighth-best hitter in the Triple-A East League. That he’s doing it as a 20-year-old — the youngest hitter at the level — highlights what a special talent he is. Franco is a potential five-category contributor for Fantasy, a player who can put up huge numbers from a middle infield spot in either a points or Rotisserie scoring format, and he’s obviously a must-roster player now that he’s up in the majors. 

Of course, he’s been a must-roster player since back in draft season, more or less, as the top minor-league player to stash. Which means he really isn’t out there on the waiver wire in too many leagues — he’s rostered in 78% of CBS Fantasy leagues already. So, there’s not really a question about whether you should add him if he is available; yes, you should. He’s a Guerrero/Ronald Acuña/Juan Soto level prospect, the kind of young talent who could immediately be a difference maker for Fantasy, and he’s worth as much as half of your remaining FAB budget if he happens to be available in your league at this point. 

Of course, because Franco is already so widely rostered, the actionable question isn’t whether you should add him, and it really isn’t whether you should start him, either. I’m ranking him in the 15-20 range at shortstop, which makes him a solid starting option in all formats, especially as a middle infielder, and I’ll be getting him in my lineup for this week ahead of Andrew Vaughn in a utility spot in one Roto league. 

But the real question you should be asking yourself if you have Franco is whether you should consider trying to trade him right now. Franco has plenty of upside obviously, but no prospect is guaranteed to make an impact as a rookie. Just ask Jarred Kelenic, who hit .096 in his first 23 MLB games before getting sent back to Triple-A earlier this month. Kelenic didn’t have Franco’s plate discipline, but his profile was supposed to be a very Fantasy-friendly one, but he was just a bit overwhelmed making the leap from Triple-A to the majors with limited experience in the high minors.

Rookies as a whole have struggled so far this season, sporting a 79 wRC+ as a group, the lowest mark since 2002, and you have to wonder if the fact that no minor-league games were played last season and the minor-league season didn’t get started until May this season has made the leap to the majors tougher than usual. Franco has played just 38 games above High-A himself, and obviously didn’t play at all last season, so this is a big leap.

It’s much more fun to hang on to Franco and hope he turns in a Juan Soto or Fernando Tatis-esque rookie season, and that’s entirely within the realm of possibility. He’s that talented. But, if I could move him for someone like Corey Seager — a proven difference maker who should be back from his injury within the next two weeks — I would have to do it. 

And if you don’t? Well, you’ve still got one of the most exciting young players in baseball on your roster, and he could give your team a much-needed boost at a time when injuries have wiped out many rosters. Franco should be a solid starting option from Day One, with the potential to be a whole lot more than that. Consider yourself lucky he’s on your side and get him active. 





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