Wander Franco, MLB's No. 1 Prospect, Called Up by Rays Ahead of Red Sox Series

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIJune 21, 2021

Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The top prospect in MLB is in the minors no longer.

The Tampa Bay Rays announced Sunday that they are planning on calling up Wander Franco, who will join the team in Tampa when a crucial American League East battle begins Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times was the first to report the news.

The shortstop has appeared in 38 games for Triple-A Durham this season. The 20-year-old is slashing .315/.367/.586 with seven home runs and 35 RBI.

Baseball America @BaseballAmerica

Wander Franco hit two more triples last night.<br><br>He has a 13-game hitting streak.<br><br>He’s hitting .423 (!!!) in June.<br><br>More here: https://t.co/kYMVsBRdnc<br><br>(🎥 @DurhamBulls)pic.twitter.com/5wzlPMvefG

According to Topkin, the Rays—who have lost their last six games—gave him the news as the Durham Bulls were driving from Virginia to Jacksonville for their next series.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Tampa Bay’s recent skid dropped the Rays out of first place in the AL East. Wander Franco is a potentially transcendent sort of player — the star that the cobble-it-together Rays have lacked for a while now. First with the news of his call-up was @TBTimes_Rays

"I’m ready to play in the big leagues," Franco said in February via team interpreter Manny Navarro, per Topkin. "I’m ready to achieve the goal that I’ve been trying to achieve since I was a little kid, to make it up to the big leagues."

While he's clearly made an impact for the Bulls this season, the native of the Dominican Republic had never played above High-A ball before this season. He signed with the Rays in 2017 and debuted the following spring, earning Appalachian League Player of the Year honors at the age of 17.

He was among the players named eligible to join the Rays in their run to the 2020 World Series, though he wasn't added to the roster. He also joined the Rays for spring training this season, hitting .257 with a home run and three RBI through 16 games.

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The Rays have optioned right-handed pitcher Drew Rasmussen to Triple-A. The team will still have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster by Tuesday in order to promote Franco.

The Red Sox have a half-game lead over the Rays for first place in the division.

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