Wander Franco, hailing from the Dominican Republic, serves as the Tampa Bay Rays’ professional baseball shortstop in Major League Baseball, marking his debut in 2021.
Born- 1 March 2001
Birthplace- Baní, Dominican Republic
Profession- Baseball Player
Current team- Tampa Bay Rays (#5 / Shortstop)
Date joined- 2021 (Tampa Bay Rays)
His father, also bearing the name Wander, had a stint in minor league baseball during the 1990s. His mother, Nancy Aybar, is the sibling of Erick Aybar and Willy Aybar, both of whom had careers in Major League Baseball.
His siblings, Wander Alexander Franco and Wander Javier Franco, were part of the Houston Astros and San Francisco Giants systems.
Wife and Children
Following the 2021 MLB season, Franco tied the knot with his girlfriend. The couple welcomed a son named Wander Samuel Franco Jr. in the latter part of 2018, and they also became parents to another son born in 2022.
In the 2017 international class, Franco ranked among the top prospects and joined the Tampa Bay Rays on July 2, 2017. He started his pro career with the Princeton Rays in 2018, notably hitting for the cycle on July 14. Despite being just 17, he earned the title of 2018 Appalachian League Player of the Year by achieving a .374/.445/.636 line with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs in 245 plate appearances for the Princeton Rays.
Baseball America rated Franco as the fourth-best baseball prospect before the 2019 season. Beginning with the Bowling Green Hot Rods, he later moved up to the Charlotte Stone Crabs on June 25. His talents secured him a place in the 2019 All-Star Futures Game, and he concluded the season with a .327/.398/.487 line, including nine home runs and 53 RBIs.
Ahead of the 2020 season, Franco claimed the coveted No. 1 baseball prospect position. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the minor league season, he couldn’t participate in any MLB or minor league games. Instead, during the 2020-21 offseason, he played for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, batting .350/.435/.500 in 23 at-bats.
Although invited to the 2021 major league spring training by the Rays, Franco didn’t secure a roster spot and began the season with Triple-A’s Durham Bulls. In his 39 games with Durham, he recorded an impressive .315/.367/.586 line with seven home runs and 35 RBIs.
Tampa Bay Rays
In the 2021 season, the Rays revealed Franco’s promotion to the major leagues on June 20, ahead of their series against the Boston Red Sox. His inclusion in the 40-man roster was formalized on June 22. Franco swiftly made his MLB debut on the same day, achieving his first career hit, home run, and RBI with a three-run shot off Red Sox’s Eduardo Rodríguez in the fifth inning.
During the 2021 season, on August 25, Franco achieved an impressive feat by reaching base safely for 26 consecutive games, marking the longest such run by a player under 21 since 1961. Building on this, he extended his streak to 37 consecutive times on base on September 7, surpassing Mickey Mantle’s record of 36 games on base for a player 20 years old or younger.
November 23, 2021, marked a significant milestone for Franco as he and the Rays agreed to an eleven-year, $182 million contract extension, featuring a club option of $25 million for a twelfth year. At just 20 years of age, Franco became the youngest player in baseball history to secure a contract worth over $100 million, surpassing Ronald Acuña Jr.’s eight-year, $100 million extension from 2019. This deal represented the largest ever for a player with under a year of major league service.
The 2022 season saw Franco achieve his first multi-home run game against the Boston Red Sox on April 22. This feat made him the youngest player in Tampa Bay Rays history to accomplish such a milestone, achieving it at the age of 21 years and 52 days.
In the same season, Franco faced some setbacks. He was placed on the 10-Day IL on May 31 due to a strained quadriceps, but he was able to return and was activated on June 26. However, on July 9, he was placed on the 10-Day injured list once again, and it was later revealed that he would be undergoing hand surgery, leading to an estimated 5-8 weeks of recovery time. He was finally activated off the injured list on September 9.
Moving into the 2023 season, Franco’s achievements continued as he was selected for his first All-Star game on July 4 as a replacement for the injured Aaron Judge.
In the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Franco proudly donned the colors of the Dominican Republic. While Willy Adames and Jeremy Peña took charge of the shortstop position, Franco’s role shifted to second base, where he shared playing time with Ketel Marte. Across three games and nine at-bats, Franco showcased a .222/.417/.222 slash line, emerging as a standout for the team with the highest number of walks (tied with Juan Soto) at three.
Net Worth 2023
As of 2023, Wander Franco’s estimated net worth is around $10 million. Throughout his career, he has accumulated earnings of approximately $12.1 million up to this point.
MLB Investigating Social Media Posts Involving Rays’ Wander Franco
The Tampa Bay Rays announced on Sunday that Major League Baseball is investigating social media posts related to Wander Franco, the team’s shortstop. Franco was absent from the game on Sunday, where the Rays suffered a 9-2 defeat against Cleveland. The team released a statement acknowledging the circulating social media posts and emphasized their cooperation with MLB’s investigation. The nature of these posts was not disclosed.
During Sunday’s match, Osleivis Basabe made his major league debut as the starting shortstop, going 1 for 3 with a double. Franco, who had been in the starting lineup, was seen in the dugout initially but left in the fifth inning. The Rays had a promotion that day featuring the “Wander Franco Snapback Hat” for fans aged 14 and under.
Rays manager Kevin Cash was questioned about Franco’s absence from the game, and he attributed it to a regular day off rather than any other issue. When asked about the speculation surrounding Franco’s situation, Cash declined to comment further.