Predicting rookie call-ups is a lot harder this preseason than in past, because of the previous year shizzshow. Usually a team calls up a guy in September, lets them play for a few weeks, then they appear ticketed for an April call-up in the next season. Or a guy isn’t called up, but you know there will be minor league teams playing in April so you can sorta gauge whether or not a guy will be playing in April in the minors and called up by May, June or later. We might know by mid-March if there will be a minor league season, and what it will look like: Will there be Single, Double and Triple-A? Will there only be Triple-A and camp? Will there just be an alternate camp? I have no idea. I’m flying blind right now, like Howard Hughes with undiagnosed syphilis. Every time someone mentions minor league baseball, I mimic Little Carmine with, “Your minor league baseball, whatever happened there?” If there’s only a Summer Camp again, Wander Franco might start the year with the Rays. If there’s relatively normal minor league baseball, and we can remember what relatively normal is, Wander Franco might not be up until June. It’s worth saying that I think we start the MLB season on time. So, what can we expect from Wander Franco for 2021 fantasy baseball?
This is going to be an annoying post of “Look what we’ve said previously,” but I mean, golly, a lot has been said about him previously, and, yes, I used “golly” to make this even more annoying. Here’s what I wrote last April, “I didn’t even rank Wander Franco in my top 500 for 2020 fantasy baseball. Don’t suddenly love him now that his first name sounds like a glorious day outside. Won’t now start calling him Shelter-in-Place Franco. How’sever, the minor league season is not happening. I still firmly believe the major league season will happen. That’s because of TV money. Revenue. The cha, and the ching. If they play minor league baseball, no one makes money. Not even the players. There’s no reward for the risk. Was talking to Marlins beat writer, Craig Mish, the other day about this and he agreed. He hypothesized that the major league clubs would have an extended roster in case they need guys, due to injury. Minor leaguers who aren’t on the roster but are getting workouts at the major league facility and if someone on the major league roster is broken, i.e., in case of emergency, a minor leaguer steps in. They might even rejigger what service time means this year. So, a larger than normal roster at the major league level, say 35-man rosters (with ten guys sitting in the stands to work as replacements and cheerleaders), then another five to ten minor league prospects, who the major league club doesn’t want to lose an entire year of development, will be allowed to workout at the major league park and will be promoted if needed. For minor leaguers, it will come down to this: Does the major league club want them not playing baseball at all this year? My guess for Wander Franco is absolutely 100% no.” And that’s me quoting me! Other than getting team size slightly larger, that was pretty spot-on.
Now, here’s what our prospect writer, Hobbs, previously said, “Franco comes equipped with an 80-hit tool, 55-legs and 60-power on the 20-80 scale. Although he hasn’t truly tapped into the power yet, there’s no reason to doubt that it won’t continue to develop even through the early stages of his Major League career. As a lifetime .336/.405/.523 hitter in two minor league seasons, Franco batted .327/.398/.487 last year at Single-A And A-Advanced with nine home runs (43 XBH) in 495 plate appearances. With that, he produced a minuscule 7.1 K% against an 11.3 BB%, walking 21 times more than he struck out. Franco has a mature approach and as the top prospect in the game, should be contributing as a Big Leaguer in 2021 and be a potential star by 2023. He’s a sleeper to be the best shortstop in the game come 2023. Speaking of sleepers, I’d like to put Grey to sleep with a forearm smash.” What the hell, my dude!
Wander has for some time been the #1 prospect in the game. He still is. He’s numero uno on the top of the top 100 prospects for 2021 fantasy baseball. His value for this year will one-hundred percent come down to when Wander Franco is promoted. If it’s in April (it won’t be), he’s the number one rookie to own and should be drafted in the top 100. More than likely, he’s up some time in the middle-to-late summer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still a rookie for 2022. I love him, but his ETA is wildly unclear. For 2021, I’ll give Wander Franco projections 19/4/16/.291/4 in 110 ABs and not up until the end of the year. It’s worth noting I’m way more conservative than other projections I’ve seen for Wander, and he’s currently going around 175th overall in early NFBC drafts. Wouldn’t be me. Speaking of NFBC drafts, take on the super-easy-to-beat Donkey Teeth in his league which is under this long, drawn-out sentence.