The Tampa Bay Rays have an exciting young star that is quickly becoming a fan favorite – Wander Franco. At just 21 years old, Franco has already established himself as one of the best hitting prospects in recent MLB history. His elite bat skills, infectious love of the game, and critical importance to the Rays’ future make Franco a player that fans will want to root for. So why should every baseball fan look to get a Wander Franco jersey this year?
Introduction to Wander Franco – Rays’ Exciting Young Star
Wander Samuel Franco is a 21-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. Signed by the Rays as an international free agent in 2017, Franco quickly rose through the minor league ranks, showcasing an advanced hitting approach well beyond his years. His scouting report revealed a player with lightning-quick hands, excellent bat-to-ball skills, plate discipline beyond his age, and emerging power. Franco forced his way to the majors in 2021 at just 20 years old, becoming the youngest player in the American League.
His MLB debut on June 22, 2021 created an instant buzz around baseball. That night, Franco singled in his first at-bat and went 2-4 overall, showcasing the elite hitting tools that had scouts raving. Franco would go on to hit .288 with 7 home runs in 2021, compiling the highest fWAR ever for a player before their 21st birthday. His historic production at such a young age signaled the dawn of new Rays star.
So what makes Wander Franco such an exciting young talent? For starters, his hitting abilities are supremely advanced for his age. He displays lightning-quick bat speed, tremendous hand-eye coordination, and excellent strike zone judgement. This allows Franco to consistently barrel balls and drive them for extra-base hits. He also shows advanced plate discipline, with mature strike zone management and ability to draw walks. Despite his youth, Franco already has an elite hit tool and approach at the plate.
Franco also displays emerging power potential. He tallied 18 extra-base hits in 2021, flashing quick-twitch strength that allows him to drive pitches with authority. As Franco matures and fills out his athletic 6’1” frame, he is projected to grow into 20+ home run pop. When combined with his elite contact skills, Franco has all the makings of a perennial All-Star run producer.
Defensively, Franco displays smooth actions, soft hands, and a strong throwing arm from shortstop. While he still needs to refine his first-step quickness and consistency, he has more than enough ability to stick at the position long-term. Franco’s love for the game also shines through in his hustle and constant energy on the field.
In many ways, Franco represents the total package – an elite bat with emerging power, combined with strong defensive skills up the middle. His maturity and advanced skills at such a young age have baseball insiders buzzing about Franco’s superstar potential. In fact, he is already being compared to some of the games greatest young talents.
Reasons Every Baseball Fan Should Get a Wander Franco Jersey
So what makes Wander Franco a player that baseball fans should look to support with a jersey purchase? Here are some of the top reasons:
- Franco’s hitting abilities are supremely advanced for his age and project future stardom.
- He displays lightning-quick bat speed, tremendous hand-eye coordination, and excellent strike zone judgement.
- Franco also shows emerging power potential that could translate into 20+ home run pop.
- His defensive skills allow him to capably man shortstop long-term.
- Franco’s maturity and work ethic are top-notch for such a young player.
- He has an infectious love of the game that translates into hustle and energy.
- Franco is a leading candidate for future AL MVP awards and championships.
- He is already being compared to iconic talents like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., and more.
- Franco represents the cornerstone of the Rays future and hope for continued success.
- At just 21 years old, Franco’s best years are likely still ahead.
- Rays fans who get a Franco jersey can say they supported him early.
- Franco jerseys will only increase in popularity as his stardom rises.
In summary, Wander Franco represents the type of young, talented, and charismatic player that baseball fans love to root for. His elite skills, maturity beyond his years, and importance to the Rays future make him a player worthy of fan support. So be ahead of the curve and get your own Wander Franco jersey this year! Franco is poised to be the next legendary Tampa Bay Ray.
As we explored previously, Tampa Bay Rays phenom Wander Franco possesses elite hitting skills that have scouts raving about his superstar potential. But what exactly makes Franco’s hitting profile so special? Let’s take a closer look at his scouting report to understand why he is poised to be an offensive force for years to come.
Franco’s Scouting Profile – Elite Hitting Skills
When evaluating prospects, scouts grade players on the traditional 20-80 scale across five key tools – hitting, power, speed, arm strength, and fielding. Entering the league, Franco earned coveted future 80-grade hit tool projections. This is an exceptionally rare honor reserved for players with generational bat skills.
So what explains Franco’s elite hit grades? First and foremost, it stems from his lightning-quick bat speed and hand-eye coordination. Franco possesses exceptionally quick wrists and barrel control, allowing him to whip the barrel through the zone. This allows Franco to wait longer on pitches while still catching up to premium velocity. He consistently barrels up pitches with authority across all quadrants of the zone.
Franco also displays phenomenal strike zone management for his age. He exercises patient plate discipline well beyond his years, laying off borderline pitches while pouncing on ones to drive. Franco walked more than he struck out during his rapid minor league ascent. His ability to work counts and drive optimal pitches portends future consistency.
Additionally, Franco is not solely a singles hitter. He generates impressive bat speed from his strong, compact frame, flashing emerging raw power. His strength and loft enable him to drive balls out to all fields. Franco tallied over 50 extra-base hits in 2021 across three levels while still physically maturing. As he fills out, he is projected to grow into consistent 20-30 home run pop at the MLB level.
Of course, Franco is not a flawless prospect. Some scouts question if his hitting approach is too aggressive, citing a high chase rate. However, Franco makes such loud contact that he can get away with chasing borderline pitches. His elite bat speed allows him to still square up less optimal offerings. Franco may need to refine his approach against savvy MLB pitchers, but his hand skills provide a strong foundation.
In summary, Wander Franco possesses generational bat talents that have baseball insiders predicting superstardom. His lightning-quick wrists, phenomenal hand-eye coordination, mature plate discipline, and emerging power give him all the tools to be an offensive centerpiece. Franco’s elite hit grades make him a prospect fans will want to support early on.
Of course, Franco contributes more than just a prolific bat…
While Wander Franco’s calling card is clearly his elite offensive potential, he also brings defensive value at a premium position. As a shortstop, Franco displays smooth actions, soft hands, and a strong arm. His instincts and agility give him sufficient range for the position.
Admittedly, some scouts still question Franco’s consistency and first-step quickness on defense. He can be prone to occasional lapses in focus or effort in the field. However, at just 21 years old, Franco still has ample time to refine the nuances of his defense. And his raw arm strength and hands should allow him to grow into an above-average glove.
Ultimately, Franco’s bat will be his carrying tool. But his defensive competency up the middle only further raises his profile. Franco should have no issues sticking at shortstop long-term, providing additional value beyond just his special offensive skills.
In total, Wander Franco represents the complete package – a potential generational bat paired with defensive upside. That is precisely the combination that turns prospects into icons. And it’s why Rays fans should be ecstatic to support Franco with a jersey purchase…
As we’ve explored, Tampa Bay phenomenon Wander Franco possesses generational hitting abilities and strong defense at shortstop. This rare blend of upside at such a young age made Franco one of the most hyped prospects in recent MLB history. So when did this budding superstar finally arrive on the big league stage? Let’s examine Franco’s long-awaited MLB debut and instant impact.
Franco’s MLB Debut and Instant Impact
After dominating three minor league levels in 2021, the baseball world buzzed with anticipation for Franco’s MLB call-up. Considered the Rays’ best position prospect since Evan Longoria, expectations were sky-high for the 20-year-old phenom.
Franco did not disappoint. He made his highly anticipated Rays debut on June 22, 2021 on the road against the Seattle Mariners. Batting fifth as the starting third baseman, Franco singled in his very first MLB at-bat off starter Logan Gilbert. Playing in front of numerous family members, Franco would finish 2-4 on the night, flashing the elite bat skills that had scouts raving.
While he did not homer in his debut, Franco provided a glimpse of his power potential two nights later. Facing the potent Boston Red Sox, Franco crushed a 411-foot bomb off Eduardo Rodriguez for his first career home run. At just 20 years and 113 days old, Franco became the youngest player in American League history to homer in a game.
Clearly, the spotlight did not faze the young Franco. He continued producing at a torrid rate, batting .319 in the first half while playing solid defense. Franco’s early success landed him in the All-Star Futures Game, where he appropriately homered off another elite pitching prospect.
All told, Wander Franco finished his age 20 season hitting .288/.347/.463 with 7 home runs in 296 plate appearances. His 18 extra-base hits and 3.5 bWAR ranked first all-time among players before their 21st birthday. Franco’s rare blend of elite bat skills and composure dazzled the baseball world.
Of course, Franco did endure some inevitable rookie growing pains. His overly aggressive approach led to subpar walk and strikeout rates. Franco also endured some defensive lulls on his way to -1 DRS. But those represent nitpicks for a player so young and advanced.
In summary, Wander Franco enjoyed one of the most impactful MLB debuts ever for a young prospect. He displayed generational bat talents and poise in the spotlight beyond his years. Franco’s instant success only further justifies why Rays fans should proudly wear his jersey.
And at just 21 years old, Franco’s career has likely only scratched the surface. His historic rookie production could be just the beginning…
Wander Franco concluded his rookie season in 2021 with statistics unmatched in MLB history for a player so young. Just how rare was Franco’s age 20 production? Let’s examine why it portends a special career ahead.
Franco’s Historic Hitting Prowess as a Rookie
In total, 20-year-old Wander Franco played in 70 games during his 2021 rookie season. His cumulative production measured historically great for a player his age:
- Batted .288/.347/.463 with 7 HR and 39 RBI
- Recorded 18 extra-base hits and a 128 OPS+
- Compiled 3.5 bWAR, highest ever before age 21
- Displayed elite 15.7% strikeout rate and 8.6% walk rate
The list goes on. Franco consistently drove the ball with authority, tallied more walks than strikeouts, and capably handled big league pitching. His debut ranked with iconic young talents like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez.
Under the hood, Franco dazzled with lightning-quick wrists, tremendous barrel control, and patient pitch selection. He feasted on pitches in the zone while laying off ones out of it. Franco simply did not chase like a typical rookie.
Of course, Franco was not without his flaws in 2021. He did endure a late-season swoon, batting just .220 in September. Fatigue likely played a role. Franco also lacks over-the-fence power presently. But as his wiry frame fills out, his emerging raw strength should translate into 20-30 homers.
In all, Wander Franco’s statistics and skills at just 20 years old were historically great. His generational bat talents have analysts predicting Franco will quickly develop into one of MLB’s premier hitters and stars. And that is precisely the type of special young player fans love to root for early in their careers.
As we’ve explored, Wander Franco concluded his 2021 rookie campaign with historically great production at just 20 years old. His generational bat talents and early MLB success make Franco a special young player fans will want to support. But how do his skills compare to current and former Rays stars?
Comparing Franco to Other Rays Stars
Throughout their franchise history, the Tampa Bay Rays have developed and featured numerous star players. How does Wander Franco’s skill set measure up to other iconic Rays?
Longoria is the best player in Rays history. He was an elite two-way third baseman, providing 30+ home run power and Gold Glove defense. Longoria and Franco share great hand-eye coordination and emerging raw power. However, Franco’s hit tool projects to be even better than Longoria’s.
Pena anchored the Rays lineup with his power, twice leading the AL in homers. While Franco does not possess Pena’s 40-homer pop, he should eclipse Pena in every other offensive category. Franco’s superior bat will make him an offensive centerpiece.
A fan favorite, Zobrist did it all for Tampa Bay with his power, speed, and versatility. Franco rates similarly as an exciting two-way player. However, Franco’s elite bat gives him the higher ceiling of the two stars.
Before being traded in 2014, Price was the Rays’ ace and one of baseball’s most dominant starters. While they play different positions, both Price and Franco reached the majors remarkably young and found instant success. Franco could soon be the face of the Rays as Price once was.
In his Rays prime, Crawford wreaked havoc with his hitting and base stealing abilities. Franco should develop into an even more potent offensive force given his power advantage. Both players cover ground smoothly on defense as well.
In summary, Wander Franco projects favorably to the best players in Rays franchise history. His generational bat gives him a real chance to surpass Longoria and others as Tampa’s greatest player ever. Rays fans who invest in a Franco jersey today could witness history in the making.
Of course, individual greatness alone does not make champions. For the Rays to capture a World Series, Franco will need help from a strong supporting cast…
While Wander Franco’s young career is off to a historically great start, baseball remains a team sport. For Franco and the Rays to reach their championship potential, they will need more surrounding talent.
Franco’s Importance to Rays’ Future Success
Make no mistake, Franco is set to become the cornerstone franchise player for the Rays. His generational bat will make him the engine driving Tampa’s lineup for years. However, a solitary star can only accomplish so much.
For the Rays to capture their first World Series title, they will need Franco’s fellow young talents to emerge. Promising rookies like Randy Arozarena, Vidal Brujan, and Shane Baz must develop into above-average MLB regulars. Veterans like Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, and Tyler Glasnow are also integral to fortifying a championship roster.
The Rays’ player development machine should continue churning out young talent to complement Franco. Their coveted pitching pipeline remains a strength. But Tampa must also augment Franco with more elite bats to maximize their offensive firepower.
In summary, Franco alone does not make the Rays locks for a World Series. But he does give them a centerpiece player to build around during their window of contention. Franco’s presence makes the Rays an attractive destination for free agents as well. His emergence could catalyze a golden era of Tampa Bay baseball.
Rays fans who invest in a Franco jersey can take pride in supporting the cornerstone of a potential dynasty. But they can also encourage ownership to surround Franco with the necessary talent to deliver a championship…
So far we’ve focused mostly on Wander Franco’s elite bat, which profiles as the calling card of his talent. However, Franco also provides defensive value at a premium position. Let’s examine his capabilities in the field as Tampa’s shortstop of the present and future.
Franco’s Defensive Abilities at Shortstop
In addition to his generational hitting talents, Wander Franco also flashes impact potential on defense. As a shortstop, Franco displays smooth actions, soft hands, and a strong throwing arm.
During his amateur days, some scouts questioned if Franco would need to move off shortstop eventually. But he has proven skeptics wrong early in his career with his instincts and range at the position.
Of course, Franco does not yet grade as an elite glove. In 2021, he posted slightly below average -1 Defensive Runs Saved as a rookie. Franco can still be prone to lapses in focus, leading to occasional fielding hiccups.
However, he clearly possesses the raw physical tools to develop into an above-average shortstop. Franco has more than enough arm strength for the position and continues refining his footwork and reactions.
As Franco matures, he should grow into a defensive asset for the Rays. His athleticism and flexibility give him wide coverage range. Franco may not win Gold Gloves, but he is plenty capable as an MLB shortstop.
Ultimately, Franco’s bat will be his carrying tool rather than his defense. But he is already impactful enough in the field to complement his special offensive talents. Franco brings the complete package to the shortstop position.
Having a foundational player like Franco up the middle provides immense value beyond just his run production. He adds leadership and steadiness to the infield while being an offensive centerpiece.
In summary, Franco’s defensive abilities further raise his profile as a franchise talent. Any production he provides with the glove is just a bonus to his generational hitting skills. Rays fans can feel confident with Franco anchoring shortstop for years to come.
Of course, Franco contributes more than just on-field impact. His infectious passion for baseball also makes him a fan favorite…
Beyond his immense talents on the field, Rays phenom Wander Franco also displays an infectious joy and passion for baseball. His obvious love of the game makes Franco even more endearing to Tampa fans.
Franco’s Infectious Love of the Game
Since he entered professional ball as a teenager, Wander Franco has dazzled with his elite skills. But it’s his visible passion for baseball that truly resonates.
When at bat, Franco clearly relishes being locked into the competition with the pitcher. He smiles while chopping at the plate and chomps at the bit to hit.
In the field, Franco is constantly in motion and chattering with teammates. He exerts full energy sprinting and diving for balls.
And after big hits or Rays’ victories, Franco openly displays sheer joy. His youthful exuberance is infectious for fans and teammates alike.
Of course, Franco backs up his passion with elite production. He is not just a raw energy player.
But Franco’s obvious joy adds to his appeal. He clearly loves playing the game, a trait that endears him to fans. Franco’s energy is a reminder of why we all fell in love with baseball as kids.
For a Rays franchise still building its fanbase, Franco’s charisma and passion are invaluable. He provides an emotional bond between the team and community. Franco’s love for the game makes him easy to root for.
Wander Franco promises to be a special player for years to come. But win or lose, his passion for baseball gives fans a reason to cheer. And that makes Franco truly beloved in Tampa Bay.
Franco’s Infectious Love of the Game
As the 2023 MLB season gets underway, one young superstar is poised for another breakout campaign: Tampa Bay Rays phenom Wander Franco. At just 21 years old, Franco has already established himself as one of the most exciting and talented players in the game today. His infectious enthusiasm and obvious love for baseball shine through in every at-bat, making Franco a fan favorite both in Tampa Bay and across the league.
So why should every baseball fan look to get their hands on a Wander Franco jersey this season? There are a few key reasons:
He’s an Emerging Superstar Talent
Simply put, Franco is one of the most gifted young players to come around in quite some time. He has an incredible hit tool, showing the ability to consistently barrel up balls and spray line drives all over the field. Franco couples that with elite bat-to-ball skills, excellent plate discipline for a player his age, and emerging power that could make him a perennial 30+ home run threat down the road.
At just 21, Franco already has one of the smoothest and most advanced offensive approaches in the game. He posted a .288/.347/.463 slash line with 20 doubles, 5 triples, and 7 home runs in just 70 games as a rookie last season. Over a full campaign, Franco projects to be a .300+ hitter who will also pile up extra-base hits and post a strong OBP. For a middle infielder, that’s a truly special skill set.
Franco immediately established himself as one of Tampa’s best players after being called up in June 2021. With a year of experience now under his belt, he’s poised to take another big step forward in 2023 and emerge as one of the American League’s brightest young stars.
He Plays the Game with Passion and Joy
Another reason to love Wander Franco is that he genuinely seems to have fun anytime he takes the field. Franco plays the game with a youthful exuberance and passion that is absolutely infectious. When he ropes a double down the line, he pumps his fist and flashes a huge grin. When he makes a tough play deep in the hole at shortstop, you can see him chuckling and chattering with fans as he jogs off the field.
That kind of visible passion for baseball is so endearing. Franco loves what he does and feels fortunate to play the game at the highest level. He seems to cherish each moment on the diamond. As a fan, you can’t help but smile and be drawn to that pure, almost childlike enjoyment of baseball.
Franco’s love for the game is evident in the energy he brings to the ballpark every day. Rays fans have already embraced him wholeheartedly, recognizing just how special it is to see a talent like Franco play with such joy. There’s no doubt he’ll be a fan favorite at Tropicana Field for years to come.
He Embodies the Rays Way
Wander Franco also perfectly encapsulates the Tampa Bay Rays way of doing things. He represents the type of young, talented, and energetic player that their front office has built a reputation for identifying and developing over the years.
Like fellow Rays young stars Randy Arozarena, Brandon Lowe, and Shane McClanahan, Franco has been nurtured and positioned to thrive in Tampa’s system. He signed with the Rays as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2017 and rose swiftly through their minor league system, making his MLB debut in 2021 at just 20 years old.
Franco profiles as the type of exciting, well-rounded contributor that Tampa loves to build around. The Rays have a knack for getting the most out of young players like Franco, helping them maximize their talent through excellent coaching and development. Everything about Franco’s quick ascent to stardom reflects the Rays’ player development philosophy and commitment to building around youth.
So for fans of the Tampa Bay franchise, Franco is the perfect embodiment of the current era of Rays baseball. His emergence as a franchise cornerstone ties directly into the success the innovative Rays front office has had in shaping its roster.
He Has an Electric Style of Play
Let’s also not overlook the fact that Franco is simply thrilling to watch take the field. He has an energetic, athletic, and smooth style of play that really pops for viewers.
Whether it’s making a tremendous leaping grab at short, using his elite bat speed to lace a line drive into the gap, or aggressively taking an extra base, Franco is electric. He plays at full speed and with the confidence of a veteran despite his youth.
Franco combines excellent fundamentals with high baseball IQ and incredible athletic gifts. The way he glides around shortstop and makes tough plays look routine is especially enjoyable to take in. And when he’s at the plate, you can’t help but edge forward in your seat in anticipation of the quick, fluid swing he’ll unleash.
Quite simply, Franco is one of the most exciting young talents in baseball. His energetic and athletic style of play translates so well to the field and makes him a blast to watch. For true baseball fans, that entertainment value is a big part of what makes the game great.
He’s the Future Face of the Franchise
At just 21 years old, it’s clear that Wander Franco is poised to be the face of the Rays franchise for years to come. Tampa Bay recognized his importance when they signed him to an incredibly team-friendly 11-year, $182 million contract extension before he ever even played a full MLB season.
The Rays are staking their future on the idea that Franco will develop into one of the American League’s premier superstars. All signs so far point to that being an excellent bet.
So for Rays fans, getting their hands on a Franco jersey allows them to proudly rep the future of their franchise. Franco has already embraced that role and figures to be the centerpiece of Tampa Bay’s lineup for the entirety of the 2020s.
Owning a Wander Franco jersey lets Rays fans symbolically invest in that bright future. Franco’s career is just getting started, and the best is almost certainly yet to come. Being able to say you’ve supported him from the very beginning is part of what makes being a true fan so fun.
He’s Easy to Root For
Finally, beyond all of Franco’s prodigious on-field talent, he simply seems like an easy player to root for. By all accounts, Franco is a humble, team-first player who is dedicated to his craft and cares about more than just himself. He’s got an infectious charisma and seems to always have a big smile on his face.
Franco has made a big impression with both teammates and fans with his affable demeanor and obvious work ethic. He projects as the type of star player who can handle attention and pressure with grace. Franco figures to be an excellent clubhouse presence and leader as he continues his rise to stardom.
So Franco just seems like an excellent player to throw your support behind. He’s the type of guy you want to root for, both for his elite on-field talent and his commendable off-field character. Franco is exactly the kind of young star that baseball needs more of.
For all these reasons, Wander Franco is a player every baseball fan should look to support this MLB season. He’s a once-in-a-generation talent who embodies some of the very best parts of the game. Franco’s incredible ability, youthful passion, and budding superstardom make him the perfect player to proudly wear on your back. So do yourself a favor and grab a Franco jersey this year as he electrifies Tampa Bay and begins his journey to being one of baseball’s brightest young stars.
Franco’s Place Among Best Young MLB Players
The future of MLB is in good hands with the influx of incredibly talented young players entering the league in recent years. At just 21 years old, Tampa Bay Rays phenom Wander Franco is already staking his claim as one of the brightest rising stars in the game.
When looking across the league at the top young talents under age 25, Franco has quickly emerged as part of the elite tier of exciting young franchise cornerstones. Here’s a look at how Franco compares to some of the other biggest young stars and his place among the best young players in baseball.
An Elite Hitting Talent
One area where Franco immediately stands out is his advanced hit tool and approach at the plate. Franco couples elite bat-to-ball skills with exceptional pitch recognition, allowing him to consistently barrel up balls and spray line drives across the field.
That pure hitting ability draws comparisons to other top young bats like Juan Soto of the Nationals, who has also shown generational hitting talent at a very young age. Both Franco and Soto have that innate ability to make fantastic contact and get the fat part of the bat on the ball consistently.
Franco walked more than he struck out in the minors, demonstrating an advanced eye. His 6.5% strikeout rate in 2021 was one of the lowest in MLB history for a rookie. That plate discipline and ability to work counts reflects skills reminiscent of young stars like Alex Kirilloff of the Twins.
While Franco is still growing into his power, he’s shown the ability to drive the ball with authority and gives every indication of being able to hit 25-30+ homers in his prime. His raw power flashes at times resemble talents like San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the most exciting young power threats in the game.
Franco generates incredible bat speed from his quick, compact swing. Over time, those hard-hit line drives will continue translating to balls leaving the yard. His power projections look similar to someone like Atlanta’s Michael Harris II, another rising star with developing raw power.
Base Running and Athleticism
Franco immediately stands out for his electric athleticism and high baseball IQ that allows him to make an impact both at the plate and in the field.
His plus speed and aggressiveness on the bases reflect talents like Jarred Kelenic of the Mariners. Both players have the ability to turn singles into doubles and be a consistent stolen base threat.
Franco also showsexceptional range at shortstop thanks to his outstanding reflexes, smooth footwork, and ability to read balls off the bat. His athleticism at a premium position compares well to phenoms like Houston’s Jeremy Pena.
Rays Develop Him the Right Way
The Rays have a tremendous track record of properly developing young talent, and Franco is no exception. They’ve allowed him to grow at his pace while carefully exposing him to major league pitching.
Tampa’s handling of Franco mirrors how organizations like the Dodgers have nurtured stars like Gavin Lux. Both franchises know not to rush prospects and put them in the best position to unlocked their immense talents.
The Rays will surely continue to handle Franco with care and likely won’t overexpose him early in his career as he continues maturing. Their patient approach could mirror how a team like Baltimore has slowly allowed Adley Rutschman’s career to unfold.
For a player so young, Franco shows remarkable maturity and leadership capabilities. He has an energetic playing style that his teammates feed off and relates well to players of all ages and backgrounds.
Franco’s leadership reminds some of players like Nolan Gorman of the Cardinals, another young player who immediately commands respect in the clubhouse. Both Franco and Gorman seem wise beyond their years and able to handle the spotlight.
As Franco grows into more of a vocal leader, he’ll be poised to guide the next generation of Rays young stars. His leadership could prove similar to someone like Atlanta’s Michael Harris, who also shows tremendous maturity despite little MLB experience.
Face of the Franchise
It’s clear that no matter how all the other talented young stars around baseball progress, Wander Franco is on a trajectory to emerge as Tampa Bay’s undisputed franchise player for the next decade-plus.
His combination of generational hitting talent, developing power, athleticism, and leadership make him the perfect candidate to become the face of the Rays organization.
In that regard, Franco compares favorably to young cornerstones like Fernando Tatis Jr. with the Padres, Rafael Devers on the Red Sox, and of course Juan Soto on the Nationals. All those players have become the pillars their franchises are built around.
Rays fans can expect Franco to embrace that franchise face role in Tampa for years. He has all the tools, both on and off the field, to develop into the league’s next Derek Jeter-like superstar.
Sky’s the Limit
When weighing Wander Franco’s exciting five-tool skill set against other emerging young MLB stars, it’s clear he has a very bright future ahead. The sky truly is the limit for how great Franco can become.
He belongs in any conversation about the top rising talents in today’s game. Franco has the potential to blossom into a perennial MVP candidate and one of baseball’s true superstars.
It will be incredibly fun for baseball fans everywhere to look back years down the road and say they saw Franco’s stardom coming from the very start of his career. He truly looks destined for baseball greatness.
At just 21 years old, Franco has already established himself as one of the game’s premier young talents. He is well on his way to an incredible career and deserves to be mentioned among the very best rising stars across MLB.
Reasons Franco is Fan Favorite in Tampa Bay
It didn’t take long for Tampa Bay Rays phenom Wander Franco to endear himself to fans after making his MLB debut in 2021. Now entering just his second season, Franco has already emerged as one of the most beloved and recognizable faces of the franchise.
From his infectious enthusiasm to his obvious talent, there are plenty of reasons why the 21-year-old has fast become a fan favorite at Tropicana Field and across Rays nation. Here’s a deeper look at what makes Franco so embraced in Tampa Bay.
He Plays with Passion and Joy
Above all else, Rays fans have gravitated to Franco because of the visible passion and joy he exhibits anytime he steps on the diamond. When Franco is out there, he’s having the time of his life.
His energetic style of play is contagious. Fans feed off the way Franco pumps his fist after a big hit or breaks out a huge grin after making a leaping grab at short. Franco loves playing baseball, and that enthusiasm is palpable.
Seeing a young talent who appreciates every moment and so clearly cherishes playing in the big leagues has really resonated with the Tampa faithful.
He’s Down to Earth and Relatable
Part of what makes Franco so likeable is that he’s remained remarkably grounded, humble and down to earth despite his meteoric rise to the majors. He comes across as very genuine and always takes time to interact with fans before games.
Franco seems to truly appreciate the opportunity to play for the Rays and recognizes how fortunate he is. For as much talent as he has, there isn’t an ounce of cockiness or entitlement about him.
He embraces the Tampa community and is very appreciative of the fans who support him. That sort of humility and charm goes a long way.
He’s Embraced Tampa
Since joining the organization as a teenager, Franco has fully embraced the Tampa area and established deep roots in the community. That connection makes Rays fans feel like he is truly one of them.
Franco spent time in the minor leagues getting to know the region and building relationships. He learned English in order to better connect with teammates and fans. The commitment to the area is real.
Rays fans recognize and appreciate that Franco has made Tampa his home and isn’t just passing through. That endears him even more to the fan base.
Franco’s ability to easily connect with Tampa’s vibrant Latin community in his native Spanish has also been huge. Rays games often feature flags from various Latin American countries waving proudly in the stands.
Being able to directly engage with those fans makes Franco’s appeal that much broader. He represents Tampa’s diversity and feels like family to so many in the area.
He Plays the Game the Right Way
Franco also stands out for his obvious respect for the game of baseball and the way he carries himself on the field. He’s a player parents enjoy having their kids look up to and emulate.
Franco hustles on every play, interacts well with opponents, and avoids controversy or showboating antics. He feels like a throwback to an earlier era when the game came first above all else.
That “right way to play” attitude resonates with long-time fans who want to see the game’s traditions and values upheld, especially by younger talents.
He’s Given Back to the Community
Off the field, Franco has already made giving back to the Tampa community a priority. That kind of effort to make a positive local impact means so much.
He’s been involved with programs like the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Franco also donates money for every hit he gets to help stray dogs find homes. Outreach like that goes such a long way.
Rays fans can tell Franco’s dedication to Tampa extends beyond just being a great baseball player. He strives to be a role model and difference-maker off the field too.
His Talent is Undeniable
Of course, Franco’s incredible talent on the field is a huge part of what draws fans to him as well. His elite bat-to-ball skills, developing power, and overall five-tool potential have Rays fans dreaming.
Franco is the kind of special generational talent that doesn’t come around often. Fans naturally gravitate to that sort of superstar in the making who can change games with one swing.
Rays supporters are eager to watch Franco’s ascent to stardom. The ability to say you watched him from the very start is something fans take pride in.
He Represents the Team’s Future
Ultimately, beyond all his admirable traits as a player and person, Franco represents the bright future for Rays baseball. He’s the cornerstone everything will be built around for years to come.
Tampa fans realize they are witnessing the dawn of an incredible baseball career. Franco has a chance to make history in a Rays uniform and become a Tampa sports icon.
Rays fans are understandably excited to be along for the ride and watch his journey unfold. That makes Franco so easy to passionately root for.
Wander Franco has made a monumental impression in a remarkably short period of time. His maturity, character, community involvement, love for Tampa, and elite talent on the field have organically elevated him to fan favorite status.
Franco is the kind of special player and person who baseball fans everywhere can’t help but admire and embrace. The future is blindingly bright, both for Franco and the legions of fans who will passionately support him along the way.
Comparing Franco to Other Rays Stars
The Tampa Bay Rays have built a reputation for developing homegrown stars over the past decade-plus. Phenom Wander Franco is the latest example, and he’s drawing comparisons to some of the best players in recent Rays history.
Here’s a look at how Franco stacks up to other franchise icons as he begins cementing his status as Tampa’s next superstar.
A natural comparison for Franco is Evan Longoria, who similarly broke into the majors at a very young age and immediately thrived. Longoria was the face of the Rays franchise for a decade and helped transform them into contenders.
Like Longo, Franco has tremendous offensive potential at an elite defensive position. Both players brought professional at-bats and poise despite little experience. Franco may even exceed Longoria in terms of pure hitting ability and speed.
Franco will look to have the longevity and consistency over 15+ seasons in Tampa that Longoria enjoyed during his Rays tenure.
Carl Crawford was the most dynamic, electric player in Tampa during the mid to late 2000s. He brought incredible athleticism, speed, and energy.
Franco has a similar energetic style of play that pops off the screen. His power potential gives him a slight edge over Crawford, but the enthusiasm and flair are comparable.
Like Crawford, expect Franco to be a threat on the bases throughout his career and make highlight-reel plays look routine.
David Price emerged as the ace and one of the best pitchers in Rays history. He had overpowering stuff and was a top Cy Young contender annually.
While a position player, Franco has the chance to dominate the game from the batter’s box the way Price did from the mound. Both brought huge expectations that they lived up to from the start.
Franco can be the signature player of this era of Rays baseball like Price was in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
Ben Zobrist was the quintessential Rays player of the 2008-2013 era. He could beat you many ways and moved around the diamond to multiple positions.
Franco has that same versatility and well-rounded game. He also figures to have Zobrist’s clubhouse presence and leadership capabilities that unite a team.
The Rays hope Franco can be a foundational piece on winning clubs for years like Zobrist was.
As a player, Rocco Baldelli was a hugely talented five-tool center fielder whose career was sadly derailed by injuries. He was a fan favorite in Tampa.
Like Baldelli, Franco is a complete player loaded with tools across the board. Health permitting, Franco hopefully will fulfill the potential Baldelli never could.
Rays fans are eager to see Franco deliver the superstar career Baldelli seemed destined for.
Kevin Kiermaier has been one of Tampa’s most popular players of the last decade thanks to his outstanding defense and elite athleticism.
Franco brings that same energy and flair in the field. Both players make the sublime look routine. Franco may even exceed Kiermaier’s offensive production at his peak.
Rays fans are used to seeing brilliant glove work at shortstop, and Franco continues that legacy.
Like David Price, Blake Snell emerged as one of the game’s most overpowering pitchers and won a Cy Young in Tampa Bay.
Snell’s peak dominance is what the Rays envision Franco achieving yearly at the plate. Both have the ability to completely control a game when at their best.
The Rays hope Franco can lift their lineup the way Snell led their rotation during his Cy Young campaign.
Wander Franco has a chance to become a franchise icon in Tampa Bay the way Longoria, Crawford, Price, and others were for past Rays squads. His all-around game and talent draw natural comparisons to the best players in team history.
If Franco reaches his immense potential, Rays fans could be watching one of the greatest careers in franchise history unfold. It will be special for Tampa supporters to say they witnessed his superstardom from the very beginning.
Franco’s Importance to Rays’ Future Success
The Tampa Bay Rays have developed a reputation as one of the most innovative franchises in baseball under their management group’s guidance. That brain trust recognizes that the key to sustaining success in the years ahead lies on the shoulders of young superstar Wander Franco.
At just 21 years old, Franco is already emerging as the face of the team and a foundational player to build around. His continued development and ascent to stardom will be critical for Tampa Bay as they strive to remain contenders in the ultra-competitive AL East.
Every great team in MLB history has been anchored by a signature star player. For the Rays, Franco clearly has the talent and makings of a franchise cornerstone.
His elite bat-to-ball skills, emerging power, and overall hitting prowess give him a chance to dominate games from the leadoff spot for years. And as a switch-hitter, he provides lineup flexibility for the Rays.
Franco has future perennial All-Star written all over him — the type of talent you construct a championship core around.
Face of the Brand
Beyond just his on-field contributions, Franco is also now the unquestioned face of the Rays franchise as a whole. He’s a budding superstar that fans will pay to watch play.
At just 21, Franco already has remarkable poise in handling media attention and embracing community initiatives. He’s comfortable as the team’s marquee representative.
Franco helps make the Rays relevant and gives them a marketable young star to build their brand around in the Tampa area and beyond.
Franco also brings a championship mentality that should permeate the Rays clubhouse. He was part of minor league title teams in 2018 and 2019, learning how to win early on.
Despite his youth, Franco has an edge and confidence about him that the Rays hope becomes contagious. He was taught not just to develop talent, but to succeed when it matters most.
Franco expects to win at the highest level and has the drive to keep pushing his teammates toward that goal.
Beyond his obvious skills, Franco also injects much-needed vibrance and energy into the Rays lineup. His youthful passion for the game gives Tampa an exciting jolt.
Franco routinely displays infectious enthusiasm by sprinting around the bases, smiling constantly, and encouraging those around him. His love of baseball is evident.
That spirit should inspire veterans and fellow young players alike. Franco makes playing in Tampa look fun again.
With his ability to fluently speak both English and Spanish, Franco can seamlessly bridge any cultural or language gaps that may exist in the clubhouse.
His bilingual leadership allows him to connect with every teammate on a deeper level. That cohesiveness and chemistry Franco fosters could give the Rays an edge.
Franco projects as the type of player who brings a roster together towards a common goal.
Next Generation of Rays Stars
Wander Franco also gives the next wave of promising Rays prospects someone to emulate and follow. Tampa’s farm system is loaded with talent.
Franco, as a model of how the Rays develop their young players, provides a blueprint for those future young stars to follow. He can mentor them to prepare for big league success.
The Rays are banking on Franco to pay it forward and help guide the organization’s next generation.
Historic Contract Aligns Incentives
The long-term extension Tampa Bay gave Franco also perfectly aligns his incentives with the team’s goals. He’ll be in Tampa through 2033 at least.
Knowing Franco is the fixture around which they will build allows the Rays to more strategically supplement their roster and develop other prospects.
Franco is tied to Tampa for the long haul, which gives them amazing cost control on a superstar player.
Wander Franco’s emergence gives the innovative Tampa Bay Rays precisely the type of franchise pillar every successful organization needs. His development into a perennial MVP candidate could be the key that unlocks the door to the Rays’ next World Series championship.
Best Wander Franco Jerseys for Fans to Buy
As Tampa Bay Rays phenom Wander Franco continues his ascent to superstardom, more and more fans are looking to get their hands on his jersey. Franco jerseys are starting to fly off the shelves at Tropicana Field and online as his popularity grows.
For fans aiming to add a Franco jersey to their collection, here’s a look at some of the best options out there this season:
Rays Home White Franco Jersey
The classic home white Franco jersey with “Rays” across the chest in blue lettering is a great pick for fans. This gives off the true home team vibe when cheering for Franco and the Rays at Tropicana Field.
The clean white background really makes Franco’s #5 pop. It’s a very traditional baseball jersey look that will never go out of style.
Rays Road Gray Franco Jersey
On the road, Tampa Bay sports gray jerseys with “Tampa Bay” lettered across the front. This gray Franco jersey is ideal for fans who want to rep their team on the road or around town.
The gray brings a nice alternate look to the classic jersey while still highlighting the #5 and Franco’s last name on the back.
Rays alternate blue Franco jersey
The Rays have introduced alternate powder blue jerseys in recent years that have become very popular. The bright blue provides a great accent to the white and gray.
A Franco jersey in this color scheme really stands out. The blue background makes the name and numbers pop. This jersey adds nice versatility to any fan’s jersey collection.
Throwback Devil Rays Franco Jersey
For fans looking for some nostalgia, buying a throwback Devil Rays jersey with Franco’s name and #5 is an awesome choice. This is a chance to pay homage to the team’s early days.
Franco in the classic purple Devil Rays jersey just feels right. And it will be a collector’s item since he never actually played for Tampa during the Devil Rays era.
Franco City Connect Jersey
In 2022, the Rays introduced unique City Connect jerseys honoring Tampa’s culture and latin heritage. These jerseys feature “Tampa Bay” in a stylish font surrounded by vibrant palm trees and sunshine.
A Franco City Connect jersey combines local Tampa flavor with the Rays’ bright future. It’s the perfect intersection of culture and baseball.
Franco Batting Practice Jersey
For a more casual look, Rays batting practice jerseys with Franco’s name and number are a versatile option. These are lightweight jerseys perfect for batting practice or everyday wear.
The BP jersey lets you rep Franco and the Rays without looking out of place. It delivers comfort and style.
Franco Youth Jersey
Younger fans will love rocking a youth-sized Franco jersey as they play ball or head to Rays games. Youth jerseys come in the classic home white or road gray colors.
Let your kids show their support for the rising young star. The youth Franco jersey will have them looking and feeling like pros on the diamond.
Franco Women’s Jersey
Female fans can cheer on Franco and the Rays in style with women’s cut Franco jerseys available. They come in flattering fits designed specifically for women.
Ladies, rep your favorite new slugger with a women’s Franco jersey this season. It’s a great way to display Rays fandom!
Wander Franco jerseys are the perfect way for Tampa Bay fans to get behind their exciting young superstar. With various styles and fits now available, everyone can find a way to show their Franco and Rays pride heading into the 2023 MLB season.
Franco Jersey Styles – Home, Away, Alternate
As Tampa Bay Rays superstar Wander Franco continues his rise to stardom, his jersey has become a top seller for fans to show their support. Franco jerseys come in the various styles representing the Rays’ home, away, and alternate uniforms.
Here’s a closer look at the different Franco jersey choices fans can pick from:
Home White Franco Jersey
The classic Rays home white jersey features “Rays” across the chest in dark blue lettering with white piping. This traditional home look is a crisp, clean jersey that strongly represents the team colors.
A home white Franco jersey allows fans to match what he wears for home games at Tropicana Field. The white background makes his #5 really pop.
This is a traditional baseball jersey style that will always stay in vogue. The home white will never go out of fashion.
Away Gray Franco Jersey
On the road, the Rays sport gray jerseys with “Tampa Bay” emblazoned across the front in blue. The gray brings a darker, more understated look than the home whites.
Fans who want to mimic Franco’s road jersey can grab the gray version. Nothing represents those road trips to places like Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park better.
The gray Franco jersey is especially slick when paired with the Rays’ typical white or blue pants.
Alternate Powder Blue Franco Jersey
In recent seasons, the Rays have introduced popular alternate jerseys in a bright powder blue color. These “ice cream” jerseys add a fun twist to the traditional home whites.
A Franco jersey in this soft blue shade has an almost retro feel while providing a cool alternate look. The blue really makes all the white lettering and logos pop.
This jersey adds nice versatility to any Rays fan’s wardrobe. The bold blue creates a distinctive style.
City Connect Franco Jersey
The 2022 City Connect jerseys paid tribute to Tampa culture with a design featuring the city name surrounded by palm trees, sunshine, and other local flair.
Repping Franco and the Rays in this stylish look that connects team to community is extremely on-trend. This jersey screams Tampa Pride.
For fans who want gear that represents Tampa Bay’s culture beyond just the Rays, the City Connect Franco jersey delivers.
Throwback Devil Rays Franco Jersey
Throwback Devil Rays jerseys take fans back to the expansion days with the classic purple color scheme and original manta ray logo.
Though Franco never actually played for the “Devil Rays”, seeing his name and #5 on this retro-style jersey just feels right. It provides an old-school look.
This is great for fans who have been with the team since the beginning and want to show their longevity.
Any fan’s collection of Wander Franco jerseys wouldn’t be complete without representing the various styles of the home whites, road grays, and popular alternate blue jerseys. Franco looks his best when fans match the jersey he’s wearing on field!
Where to Get Authentic Franco Rays Jerseys
As demand for Tampa Bay Rays phenom Wander Franco jerseys continues to rapidly grow, fans want to make sure they’re getting authentic, high-quality jerseys to represent their favorite new star.
Here’s a look at some of the best places to shop for legit Franco and Rays jerseys:
Tropicana Field Team Store
The most reliable place to buy an authentic Franco jersey is at Tropicana Field’s team store in downtown St. Petersburg. This official retail store at the Rays’ home stadium carries the widest selection of Franco jerseys of all styles.
Shoppers can browse the racks and ensure they’re getting the real deal straight from the source. Expect to pay full retail pricing, but the peace of mind of authenticity is worth it.
Rays Online Team Store
Fans can also shop the Rays’ online team store to order Franco jerseys directly from the organization. The full selection of jersey styles and sizes are available.
Ordering online offers convenience without sacrificing authenticity. Again, expect to pay more than third-party retailers, but it’s the cost of guaranteed legitimacy.
For a wider variety of Rays and Franco merchandise, MLBShop.com offers officially licensed products. This trusted league retailer carries authentic jerseys.
Shoppers can find deals here during sales and promos not available directly from the team store. MLBShop provides reliable quality and value.
As one of the largest online sports retailers, Fanatics is a safe bet for authentic Rays jerseys. They carry all the most popular players and offer fast shipping.
Fanatics runs frequent sales, and shoppers can save big on Franco jerseys. Their items are all officially licensed by MLB as well.
Dick’s Sporting Goods
Major retail chains like Dick’s Sporting Goods have partnerships with leagues to carry official merchandise. Their jerseys are sourced directly from suppliers like Nike.
Trying on sizing in person makes DSG a solid option. Their pricing is also very competitive with other major retailers.
Specialty sports apparel stores like Rally House offer a wide range of officially licensed MLB gear. Shoppers can often find rare items here.
The local customer service at these smaller chains is a plus. Their Franco jersey pricing is usually on par with major retailers.
When looking for an authentic Franco jersey, nothing beats buying directly from the Rays team store. But reputable major retailers also provide quality options at cheaper prices for fans on a budget.
Customizing Your Wander Franco Jersey
One of the best parts about getting a new jersey is making it your own with customization. Wander Franco jerseys are hot sellers this year, and Rays fans are looking for ways to add a unique touch.
Customizing your Franco jersey lets you put a personal spin on representing your new favorite player. Here are some great custom options to consider:
Add Your Name and Number
Many fans love getting their own name and preferred number put on the back of a jersey rather than a player’s. This lets you become part of the team!
Seeing your own name on the back of a Rays jersey makes you feel like part of the action. Choose your own number for the full customized effect.
Adding a memorial patch is a great way to pay tribute to a lost loved one. Jersey patches give you a chance to keep their memory with you.
Patches can include initials, numbers, names, or dates. Place them on the shoulder or sleeve for a subtle but meaningful touch.
An anniversary patch lets you commemorate a special date or occasion. It can recognize a wedding, birthday, graduation, or any other event.
These patches make fun mementos to mark a meaningful milestone. Your Franco jersey becomes even more special.
“Est” Established Date
Using “Est” and a date on the jersey represents when you became a Rays or baseball fan. It shows your fandom history!
Maybe you’ve been repping the Rays since their first season in 1998. Honor your loyalty by adding “Est 1998” or another year.
Hometown or State Patch
Rep where you’re from by adding your city or state’s name in patch form. Show your hometown or regional pride!
Florida fans could use a “Sunshine State” patch. Or recognize your specific town with its name or area code.
An American flag patch is a popular patriotic addition. Other national flags also make fun cultural customizations.
Fans with their heritage in places like Puerto Rico, Cuba, or the Dominican Republic can honor that background on their jersey.
Adding a short custom message is a great way to motivate yourself or share an inspiration quote. Jersey messages make them feel personalized.
Phrases like “Dream Big” or “Keep Fighting” take your fandom to the next level. Show what baseball means to you.
Top your custom jersey off by getting a Rays player’s signature stitched on. Franco or team legends like Longoria or Crawford are great options.
Signatures add prestige and collector’s value. Nothing represents a player bond better than their autograph.
The options are endless when it comes to making your Wander Franco jersey special for you. Add a patch, customize the name and number, or get a player’s signature. The jersey becomes your own keepsake!
Wearing Your Franco Jersey Proudly as a Rays Fan
For Tampa Bay Rays fans, there’s no better way to show your support than sporting a Wander Franco jersey around town and at Tropicana Field.
Franco has ignited excitement about the future of Rays baseball. As his stardom rises, fans are eager to rep their new favorite player and the promising direction of the franchise.
Here are some great ways to wear your Franco jersey proudly as a Rays fan:
Home Games at The Trop
Any time you head to Tropicana Field to cheer on the Rays, put on your Franco jersey to back the team. Seeing that #5 in the stands reminds the players why they play.
At the ballpark, you’ll be joined by thousands of other passionate Franco and Rays supporters. It’s a place to bond over team pride.
Away Games Viewing Parties
Can’t make it to follow the Rays on the road? Host viewing parties with friends when the team plays away games. Break out your jerseys to mimic the atmosphere you’d have at the stadium.
Your Franco jersey brings the spirit of The Trop with you wherever you go. Rep the team all season long.
Rays Fan Events
The Rays host various special fan events like Foundation dinners, season kickoff parties, and postseason rallies. These are perfect places to sport Franco jerseys.
You’ll be surrounded by like-minded, passionate Rays supporters. It’s a great opportunity to connect over team pride.
Rep your Rays and Franco pride right in your own neighborhood. Wear the jersey when doing yardwork, while walking the dog, or when heading out to pick up groceries.
You never know who you might discover is a fellow Rays fan. Franco’s rising stardom makes him the perfect conversation starter.
Youth Baseball Games
If you help coach or cheer on a youth baseball team, the Franco jersey is great attire. It will wow the kids when you rock the superstar’s gear.
You’ll be the coolest parent or coach at the field. The jersey reminds the next generation of Rays stars to follow their dreams.
Rays Watch Parties
Get friends together at your home to watch Rays games on TV. In your Franco jerseys, it’ll feel just like being in The Trop cheering them on.
Make some Rays-inspired snacks and drinks and settle in to root for the team. Your jersey pride will be on full display.
However you choose to rock it, a Wander Franco jersey is the ultimate sign of unwavering Tampa Bay Rays fandom. It represents devotion to both player and team. Wear it loudly and proudly all season long!