Rays journal: Rays to sign top international prospect Wander Franco

Dominican SS Wander Samuel Franco credit: mlbpipeline.com, Twitter
Dominican SS Wander Samuel Franco credit: mlbpipeline.com, Twitter
Published July 2 2017
Updated July 2 2017

BALTIMORE — Last week the Rays signed the top college player in the country, No. 4 overall draft pick 1B/LHP Brendan McKay of Louisville, for a bonus in excess of $7 million.

Today they are poised to continue their luxury shopping spree, expecting to finalize a deal with the top international prospect, 16-year-old Dominican SS Wander Franco, for close to $4 million.

Franco comes from a baseball family, with two older brothers, both also named Wander, playing in the Astros and Royals minor-league systems and an uncle, Erick Aybar, playing his 12th season in the majors.

The youngest Franco is considered the best prospect of the three brothers, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound switch-hitter with what Baseball America described as "ferocious bat speed" and "above-average raw power." There is some discussion among scouts over whether Franco will stay at shortstop or move to second.

This will be the second time in three years the Rays have spent big for the top international prospect, after signing SS Adrian Rondon in 2014 for around $3 million. Rondon, who turns 19 Friday, is hitting .222 with five homers, 32 RBIs and a .614 OPS at Class A Bowling Green while playing third base.

Odorizzi's down day

As much as the Rays had to be happy about in Saturday's 10-3 win over the Orioles, RHP Jake Odorizzi was disappointed in his performance, lasting only five innings as he threw 111 pitches, allowing three runs on five hits, including a homer for a team-record 12th straight game. "Today was a tough day," he said. "I need to do my job better when we have that much of a cushion, try to save the guys in the pen a little." Odorizzi has had his struggles this season, between not having his best stuff and having issues with his mechanics. "He battled, he grinded," manager Kevin Cash said. "I know he's probably sick of me saying that after his starts, but give him some credit." Cash cited the steamy weather and "death by foul ball' as reasons for Odorizzi's outing.

Medical matters

INF Tim Beckham did not play as a result of the painful left ankle that has been sore for a week and got worse enough to knock him out of Friday's game, but Cash said he could return today. With Monday off, the Rays also could wait until Tuesday. … INF Brad Miller, on the DL most recently since June 7 with a groin strain, started his rehab playing for the Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte and went 1-for-1 with a double and a walk but won't return before the end of the road trip.

Getting some relief

After finishing off Friday's wild 6-4 10-inning win, closer Alex Colome said he was "back," having overcome whatever it was that led to his three-game funk. Cash said, "I didn't really think he went anywhere" but nevertheless was encouraged by the overall bullpen effort as Colome, Jumbo Diaz, Tommy Hunter and Brad Boxberger (sharp in his season debut) combined for 31/3 effective innings. "Hopefully that's something we can build off," he said.

Number of the day

15 Pitches seen by Shane Peterson in doubling in the fourth inning, matching the longest plate appearance in the majors this season and longest in Rays history since 1999, per baseball-reference.com.


. 1B Logan Morrison's second homer was the 91st to land on Eutaw Street beyond the rightfield wall at Baltimore's Camden Yards and the third in Rays franchise history. Ben Grieve did it in 2002 and Aubrey Huff in 2003.

. With 35 strikeouts and only five walks in his first five starts, rookie RHP Jake Faria joined some impressive company. The only other pitcher to do so in beginning his career with five starts, per Stats LLC, is Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez.

. Saturday's game was delayed 1:12 at the start due to rain.

. The Rays tweaked their rotation, with RHP Chris Archer moving up to start on regular rest Tuesday in Chicago so he can pitch again in Sunday's final game before the All-Star break. LHP Blake Snell moves back to Wednesday.

. The Rays wore red, white and blue stars and stripes-trimmed jerseys, caps and socks Saturday and will again today and Tuesday in Chicago.