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Wander Franco week: How to catch the Rays top prospect in Tampa Bay

The top-ranked prospect in baseball will be in town starting Thursday when Wander Franco and the Rays’ Class-A affiliate Charlotte play in Clearwater and Bradenton.
Rays prospect Wander Franco appears before a Charlotte Stone Crabs game against the Fort Myers Miracle on June 25, 2019. [Ryan Kolakowski]
Rays prospect Wander Franco appears before a Charlotte Stone Crabs game against the Fort Myers Miracle on June 25, 2019. [Ryan Kolakowski]
Published Jul. 24, 2019|Updated Jul. 24, 2019

CLEARWATER — Baseball’s top prospect makes his Tampa Bay area debut this week.

No, Wander Franco won’t join the Rays — not yet, anyway — but Franco and his Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs play seven games near his potential future home in St. Petersburg.

Beginning today, fans in the Tampa Bay area have the chance to get an up close and personal look at Franco. While the Rays will be on the road until Aug. 3, the Stone Crabs will be in Clearwater from Thursday to Sunday for a four-game series at Spectrum Field with the Threshers, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Related: MORE RAYS: Franco was the center of attention at Futures Game

Ranked as the minors best overall prospect by MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs, Franco is off to a torrid start with Charlotte, the Rays advanced Class-A affiliate. The Rays promoted Franco to Charlotte on June 25, and he’s actually improved his performance from his start in Class A Bowling Green, Ky.

Entering Wednesday night’s game against Jupiter, Franco was hitting .355 with an OPS of .989 and only five strikeouts in 89 at-bats. He posted a .896 OPS with 27 extra-base hits in 62 games at Bowling Green.

Tickets to the upcoming series between Charlotte and Clearwater, available at milb.com/clearwater/tickets/single-game-tickets, range from $6 for berm seating to $17 for club seating.

Wander Franco has spent this season tearing up the  Midwest League and Florida State League. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Wander Franco has spent this season tearing up the Midwest League and Florida State League. DIRK SHADD | Times

The Threshers are offering promotions for each game of the series:

• Taps and Tacos; half-price beverages and $3.50 24-ounce craft drafts on Thursday.

• A family pack on Friday ($16 for two box seats, two hot dogs, two chips and two soft drinks).

• Pride Night and post-game fireworks on Saturday

• Brunch at the Ballpark ($17 pre-sale, $21 walk-up brunch tickets) on Sunday.

Related: MORE RAYS: Why Wander Franco is on the fast track

Next week, the Stone Crabs travel to Bradenton to take on the Marauders, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The three-game series at LECOM Park begins Tuesday and ends Aug 1. Tickets, available at milb.com/bradenton/tickets/single-game tickets, range from $7 to $12.

Contact Ryan Kolakowski at rkolakowski@tampabay.com.

Franco’s on-field performance, combined with the recent promotions of the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr., rocketed the Rays shortstop to the top of league-wide prospect lists. The Stone Crabs road trip provides fans with a chance to see the budding star in Tampa Bay.

Contact Ryan Kolakowski at rkolakowski@tampabay.com.