The Tampa Bay Rays made MLB history in 2023 before they even lost a game. This was due to them winning 13 straight games to start the season, something only the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves has ever done in the sport’s nearly 150-year history. Sure, it’s a long 162-game season, but winning streaks like this need to be noted and celebrated. So how have the Rays done this? There are a lot of reasons to factor in — baseball is a team sport after all, but one particular Latine player is appearing to break out in 2023, Wander Franco.
The Dominican player may have made his MLB debut in 2021, but the hype train behind Franco’s name started when he was signed by the Rays in 2017. By 2019, he was ranked as the fourth-best prospect in baseball, and by 2020 he was considered the best prospect in baseball. Rays fans counted the days until he made his debut. The COVID-19 pandemic which halted the MLB season in 2020 put a delay on his debut, but 2021 finally gave us a Wander-vision (this nickname was timely in 2021) we had all been waiting for.
In Franco’s first game, he recorded a single and a home run against the Boston Red Sox on June 21, 2021. By August, he had reached base safely in 37 consecutive games. In 2023, Franco is already hitting .300 and has helped lead the Rays to a scorching hot start. Franco’s skills aren’t limited to just hitting though as he’s one of the most electrifying shortstops to watch in the field.
With the bat, Franco’s skills lie in his maturity and his ability to make contact while also not swinging at everything. This is a skill that usually takes time to build, but Franco appears to have mastered it at the tender age of 22 years old.
Oh yeah, he’s blazing fast on the basepaths, too. There are no limits to Franco’s game.
Franco also plays with purpose and keeps his family in his heart at all times. When on the field he paints a T (two lines) and a cross on his face. According to Franco, the T is for his two children and the cross represents his faith and honors his mom.
There is little doubt that Franco is an MVP-caliber player in the making. And fans of the Rays have been waiting for this. Thankfully, so far in 2023, he has proven in a big way that he’s ready for superstardom.
The only direction for Wander Franco’s career is up.