Rays The Analysis: Niko Hulsizer – Ben Whitelaw (Part 2)

This is a continuation of a multi-part deep dive into the numbers and current trajectory of Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer Niko Hulsizer. Statistics and data can be found on Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and Baseball Savant.

In my previous article, I discussed where Niko Hulsizer’s road to becoming part of the Tampa Bay Rays organization and what has made him such an under-valued player. In part two, I’ll be putting numbers to paper to show just what has made Hulsizer such a fun prospect to follow.

By the Numbers

Hulsizer’s professional career began in the Dodgers organization 2018, where he hit nine home runs, stole 12 bases and posted a 14.9 percent walk rate, .957 OPS, .360 BABIP and 145 wRC+. His OPS and BABIP has sustained through his three-year minor league career to date, posting a career .341 BABIP and .925 OPS.

If you thought Hulsizer would have a difficult time replicating his impressive first season, you’d be wrong. He began 2019 at Class-A Great Lakes, posting a .969 OPS in 58 games. His K% did climb a bit to 29.3%, but that isn’t going to be too much of a concern when 58.9% of his hits in those 58 games went for extra bases.

Things did get a little more difficult for Hulsizer when the Dodgers promoted him to High-A Rancho Cucamonga, the alleged birthplace of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Unfortunately, Hulsizer wasn’t as flaming hot when he arrived at his next stop. This was the first time he had been younger than the average age of his competition. However, like we’ve seen with Hulsizer this season, he can be virtually unstoppable once he gets into a rhythm.

He found his footing with a three-hit day on June 27th and played very well until cooling off leading up to an injury on July 21st. Hulsizer was then traded to the Rays on July 31st and didn’t play too well during his rehab games with the Rays rookie affiliate (.384 OPS, 34 wRC+).

However, the Rays weren’t discouraged, promoting him to then-High-A Port Charlotte after his injury, where he posted a .690 OPS and 105 wRC+ in nine games. Determined to get his production back, Hulsizer opted to play winter ball for the Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League.

It benefitted Hulsizer tremendously as he posted an .887 OPS across 151 plate appearances against older, more experienced players. He also was able to get consistent at-bats and playing time before the 2020 minor league season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

His hard work through the lengthy offseason off 2020 paid off when he began 2021 at now-High-A Bowling Green. While his K% rose to 38.9%, he recorded 38 hits, 23 of those extra-base hits, in 44 games with the Hot Rods, posting a .930 OPS, 148 wRC+, and an ISO of .320.

Hulsizer was either walking (13.9 BB%), hitting the ball really hard and really far, or striking out. Thankfully, he did the first two of those at such an impressive rate that the strikeouts didn’t hurt his game too much.

On July 13, Hulsizer was promoted to Double-A Montgomery, where he got off on the right foot, hitting a grand slam in his first game with the Biscuits. In 19 games, Hulsizer has a slashline of .290/.389/.661 with five home runs and 20 RBI, as well as a 30.5 K% and a 13.9 BB%.

The final part of this series will be released on Thursday afternoon.

Rays Injury Report: 8.4

It’s incredible how good the Tampa Bay Rays have been this season with the amount of players that have been on the injured list, especially on the pitching side.

We’ll be doing this more often, but here’s your Rays Injury Report for August 4.

The Rays currently have 15 players on the IL, including three recovering from Tommy John surgery: Yonny Chirinos, Colin Poche and Jalen Beeks.

We can now add Tyler Glasnow onto the Tommy John list as he will be getting TJ on Wednesday of this week.

Other players who will not be returning this season include Chaz Roe, Cody Reed and Tommy Hunter, who came over to the Rays as part of the Rich Hill trade with the New York Mets.

That leaves just eight players left and of those eight, four are on the 10-day IL: Pete Fairbanks, Collin McHugh, Jeffrey Springs and J.P. Feyereisen. McHugh has the possibility to come back in this weekend’s Baltimore Orioles series.

Fairbanks has begun to play catch and Feyereisen is expected to throw a bullpen in the coming days as both of them rehab back to the major league team.

That leaves four pitchers who are all on the 60-day IL: Nick Anderson, Chris Archer, Oliver Drake and Ryan Thompson, who was just placed on the 60-day before Tuesday’s game against the Mariners.

Anderson is currently working his way back and will be rehabbing in Triple-A Durham soon, but a Covid-related issue is currently holding him back from the mound.

Archer suffered a hip injury in his most recent start in Durham, further setting back his return to the big league club. Thompson and Drake are currently unknown as to when they will return. It seems that Drake might be shut down for the season, so we wouldn’t expect him to be back soon.

As of right now, there are no position players on the IL.

We’ll continue to keep this updated as the season finishes out.

RHP Tyler Glasnow to undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday

The fears of the Tampa Bay Rays organization and fans were realized on Tuesday as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that RHP Tyler Glasnow would undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday.

Glasnow has been out since June 14, when he complained of pain in his throwing elbow. It was discovered that he partially tore his right UCL and he attempted to rehab it back to pitch this season.

However, it proved to be too much as we soon found out Glasnow had complaining of arm problems since first suffering an injury during the 2019 season. 

As we found out once the MLB trade deadline passed, the Rays’ front office went about the deadline with the assumption that Glasnow wouldn’t return to pitch this season.

With more than a dozen pitchers currently on the IL, it would’ve only made sense for the Rays to acquire pitching to help out, but knowing the Rays, they wouldn’t overpay for a probable two-month rental.

The moves that Tampa Bay did make included trading LHP Rich Hill to the Mets, RHP Diego Castillo to the Mariners for RHP JT Chargois and acquiring RHP DJ Johnson from Cleveland.

ws seemed to be inevitable, and it’s made worse knowing that Glasnow will probably be sidelined through the entire 2022 season. 

As of now, it’s not worth it to rush him back knowing he’s Tampa Bay’s ace, but now that he’s officially out long-term, the Rays will need to find ways to piece the starting rotation together.

It seems that Luis Patino, Shane McClanahan and Ryan Yarbrough will be mainstays, and Michael Wacha will last through the 2021 season. Hopefully, Chris Archer will be back soon to help as well as Brent Honeywell and if all works out, Shane Baz later.

However, the Rays will now have to do what they can to push through the rest of the season as they make their push to defend the AL pennant.

Rays The Analysis: Niko Hulsizer – Ben Whitelaw

This is the first in a multi-part series, a deep dive into the numbers and current trajectory of Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer Niko Hulsizer. Statistics and data can be found on Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and Baseball Savant.

Niko Hulsizer found his stride after a slow start to the season and has been turning heads in the Rays organization. We’ll be looking at the numbers to figure out why Hulsizer has gone under-the-radar for so long and what his current path to the majors looks like.

Why Is Nobody Talking About This Guy?

When he was originally acquired from the Dodgers for Adam Kolarek in 2019, I thought, “Oh cool, another three-true-outcomes type guy? He just seems like an older Moises Gomez.” After seemingly dodging a bullet with two .500 OPS players in Justin Williams and Jesus Sanchez, how much faith Rays fans have in the organization to develop a quality hitting corner outfielder?

Desmond Jennings and Brandon Guyer are two of the best recent examples, which shows you the lack of corner outfield development the Rays have had. Remember, players like Randy Arozarena and Austin Meadows were MLB-ready at the time of their acquisition.

Moises Gomez, Hulsizer’s teammate in Montgomery, is a corner outfielder prospect many have been high on. However, he’s seen significant regression in his hitting compared to seasons prior. Knowing the Rays, a big-time corner outfielder will be developed soon and given his age and track record, I think Hulsizer fits that mold in a big way.

An 18th round draft pick out of Morehead State in 2018, Hulsizer was a right-handed power bat, but scouts and baseball websites alike didn’t rate him highly. On Fangraphs’ future value scale, Hulsizer was rated as just a 35. Let’s take a look at his Fangraphs scouting report to see why.

Note his Rule 5 Draft eligibility this winter. The Rays will have a big decision on their hands this winter to include him on the 40-man roster or let him to go the draft.

His decent fielding, mediocre arm, and okay speed suggest he could be an average corner outfielder defensively. It’s clear that at 6’2 225 pounds, Hulsizer’s best tool is his raw strength.

However, with that strength comes a few questions: How well will his power translate into real games, and can he avoid swinging and missing enough for pitchers to respect that power? 

Hulsizer and his impressive numbers have been able to answer those questions literally since his minor league career began, so I’m not entirely sure why he isn’t talked about more. Side note, his birthday comes one day after mine, so that’s pretty cool.

Part Two in this series coming soon!

Carolina Connection- Margaret Gasperson

Years ago, my husband and I moved to Winter Haven from High Point, NC. I have always loved sports. We are avid sports fans, but not particularly baseball. 

About a year after being here, our son surprised us with a four pack of Rays tickets for Opening Day. David Price was pitching, and we had a great time!

When we arrived at our second game, we got a Facebook message from Kathy Woods, a dear friend from back home in North Carolina. “Guess what?  My nephew, Wil Myers, just got moved up to the Rays!”, it read.

Margaret in her Wil Myers Jersey

Sure enough, Wil Myers was in the lineup that night. He attended high school at a private school just down the street from our home in North Carolina, where I had coached the high school softball team many years ago.

Well, needless to say we had a hometown connection! Over time I became increasingly invested in the team.

This gal, who once really could not have cared less about baseball, is now a HUGE Tampa Bay Rays fan!  We watch games on tv every night and try to visit the Trop from time to time.

Margaret and her family enjoying a Rays game at Tropicana Field

I even make sure to keep LOTS of Rays paraphernalia around my office. I’ve enjoyed learned the ins and outs of Rays baseball and baseball in general! 

I love to learn about all of the Rays players and baseball was my JOY during the tough times of the pandemic! 

These Carolina transplants are Rays fans for life!!!! 

If you have a story about your journey as a Rays fan and would like to share, please email us at raystherooftb@gmail.com.

Hand Up- Five things I got wrong about the 2021 season

As about a third of the baseball season is in the books, I thought it was a fitting time to reflect on some of my personal thoughts and predictions from before the season got underway.

Ten preseason predictions stood out, five of them proving to be true this year and five that have not held up. Here are the five I missed on.

1. “Willy Adames is our shortstop”

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – APRIL 13: Willy Adames #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field on April 13, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

This was a big fat lie, although one that I’m sure Cash believed in the moment.

This was a quote from Kevin Cash during spring training when asked about the possibility of Wander Franco or Taylor Walls making the big-league roster.

I totally believed him because Franco had yet to play a game in AAA and there were some questions about Taylor Walls at the plate. However, Willy Adames was NOT in fact their shortstop.

The Rays traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for pitchers J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen on May 21.

The move cleared a spot for SS Taylor Walls, who has been impressive on both sides of the ball. His plate discipline and wizardry with the glove have shown that in fact, Taylor Walls is our shortstop.

2. Tyler Glasnow will need some time to truly step into the “ace” role

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – JUNE 08: Tyler Glasnow #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws a pitch during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Tropicana Field on June 08, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Man, was I wrong with this one and I can’t believe I ever doubted him.

My initial thought process was that in his prior seasons, he was never “the guy” in the rotation. He struggled with inefficiency and going deep into games; however, it was okay because Charlie Morton and Blake Snell took some pressure off.

I expected him to be better than in previous seasons because of his addition of the slider, but WOW he stepped into the ace role immediately and never looked back. Before his elbow injury on June 14, he was second in the AL in strikeouts with a 2.66 ERA.

He was a shoo-in for the 2021 All-Star Game and shaping up to be a Cy Young finalist. He is reportedly on his way back and playing light catch. Having the ace back in the rotation during the 2021 postseason would be huge for this team.

3. Yoshi Tsutsugo will have a breakout season with the Rays

ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 05: Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo (25) hits a double in the eighth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels played on May 5, 2021 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This aged poorly.

Watching Tsutsugo during the 2020 season, I thought that I had seen some good plate discipline and hard contact that just wasn’t falling in for the lefty hitter.

Unfortunately (miraculously even), his performance was even worse in 2021 than it was the previous season. Through 26 games with the Rays this year, he posted a measly .167 batting average and a .462 OPS.

The Rays designated Tsutsugo for assignment before he was traded to the Dodgers on May 15. Unfortunately, his struggles have followed him to Los Angeles where he sports a .120 batting average and a .410 OPS through 12 games. He is currently on the injured list with a calf strain.

4. Cody Reed will be the reliever that steps up in a big way.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 01: Cody Reed #21 of the Tampa Bay Rays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 01, 2020 in New York City. New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Also no.

It seems like every season, there is at least one reliever that comes out of nowhere and ends up being a huge piece in the bullpen.

A ton of guys have had to step up early this season with the multitude of key injuries the Rays suffered. Ryan Thompson, Collin McHugh, Andrew Kittredge, and more filled in those spots (and in a huge way- Kittredge was even named an All-Star), however Cody Reed did not.

It is not because of his performance, but rather his lack of innings due to injury. After just 9.2 innings, Reed had to undergo thoracic outlet surgery, which will keep him out for the rest of the 2021 season.

5. There was no way that Wander Franco, Vidal Brujan, and Taylor Walls would all be up before the All-Star break.

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – JUNE 22: Wander Franco #5 (left) and Taylor Walls #6 (right) of the Tampa Bay Rays look on during batting practice before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

I’m fairly sure I’m on record numerous times saying that we wouldn’t see Wander Franco until rosters expanded, or maybe even not until 2022.

This was a huge whiff on my part considering he made his wildly anticipated debut on June 22 against the Red Sox and is almost certainly not being optioned any time soon. I’ve already mentioned Taylor Walls and how incredible he has performed as the everyday shortstop.

Now, JUST before the All-Star break, the last of what I call “The Big Three” was promoted in Vidal Brujan. They join other rookies Randy Arozarena, Josh Fleming, and Shane McClanahan contributing to the big-league club.

Luis Patiño, Kevin Padlo, and Brent Honeywell have also made appearances. The willingness of the Rays to promote their rookies this year and the success that those rookies have had, show that the team is ready to usher in a very talented new era.

I don’t think we’ve seen the last MLB debut for the Rays this year either. Look out for Joe Ryan, Shane Baz, Josh Lowe, and more before the Commissioner’s Trophy is raised. We are just getting started.

An Unforgettable Experience – Sam Steinmeyer

My dad and I try to hit a different baseball stadium every summer for a vacation. He always let me pick the destination and in the winter before the 2008 season started, I saw the Rays change their name from Devil Rays to Rays.

I told my dad I wanted to go to Tampa and so we did, and we went to five games. The first game we had tickets behind home plate there was a man in front of us.

After sitting a few minutes watching batting practice my dad goes and gets concessions and I stay at the seats. The man in front of me and I start talking and when my dad gets back to the seats, he says to my dad he’s astounded at how much I know about baseball.

A little while later two friends of his showed up a husband and wife I talked to them as well and watched the game. The next night we had the same seats and the husband and wife showed up with two trash bags full of Rays stuff they collected over the years and gave it to me.

How can an 8-year-old boy not fall in love with a team when that happens? We became good friends with the three people that sat in front of us that day.

We went back to the Trop the next year and had dinner at the husband and wife’s house and they let me swim in their pool. They also still send me letters sometimes with Rays monthly magazines.

Also, after the 2008 season they sent me a replica AL Championship ring they got as season ticket holders.

They also knew the owner of the Rays and he sent me a letter thanking me for coming to Tropicana Field.. Thirteen years after my first trip to the Trop I am still a huge Rays fan despite living in Missouri and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

If you have a story about your journey as a Rays fan and would like to share, please email us at raystherooftb@gmail.com.

Born and (Ray)sed – Danielle Hendrix

As someone who was born and raised in the Tampa Bay area, it’s only fitting that I grew up a Rays fan.

Having a dad who loves sports and became a Rays and Bucs fan when he moved to St. Petersburg in the ‘80s, I was rooting for the Rays from an early age.

I remember attending Rays games throughout the years and especially enjoying the fact that the stadium is air-conditioned. (Let’s be real: No matter how you feel about the Trop, it’s a relief to not have to worry about rain delays or baking in the hot Florida sun.)

Does that mean I was always a sports fan? Nope, not at all. In fact, growing up, I couldn’t have cared less about the actual games — whether it be baseball, football or pretty much any other sport. 

As a little girl, the fun part was getting decked out in team gear and colors, and enjoying a hot dog and Dippin’ Dots at the Trop. Of course, I HAD to get my Dippin’ Dots in the souvenir Rays helmet bowl or it wasn’t legit.

And there were those Sunday games where they let the kids run the bases afterward. I can visualize one particular time when I rounded the bases in pink rain boots — not great for running.

When I got a little older, the games became increasingly more fun. In high school, I started paying some attention to the names on the roster — shoutout to Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford, the first two Rays players I vividly remember knowing a lick of anything about.

Then there was that historic season in 2008, when pretty much everyone in the Tampa Bay area suddenly pulled out the stops and jumped on board with the Rays. Remember the #Rayhawk? Me too.

Games were even more enticing with the summer concert series on deck. I remember being so excited to head to a game in 2009 — the summer of my freshman year — because Daughtry was playing right after. I admit to having been more excited to see Daughtry play than the Rays that day.

I know how many people hate the Trop, and there are definitely valid reasons for it. Knowing so much more about baseball now than I did in the past, I get why it’s not ideal.

But the Trop always will hold a special place in my heart for many reasons — one of which being that I graduated high school on that field June 7, 2012 (Osceola Fundamental High School c/o 2012 represent). I can’t emphasize enough how special of a memory that is to me, even almost 10 years later.

That fall, I left the Tampa Bay area for the first time and started my next chapter of life in Orlando, where I attended the University of Central Florida (Go Knights! Charge On!). Rays games became fewer and farther in between for me with my school schedule.

In fact, I can’t explicitly remember attending another game until summer of 2015. I lived at home that summer and worked at the Tradewinds on St. Pete Beach. For the company party, they gave us Rays tickets, and of course I took my dad with me!

Although I am a lifelong Rays fan, I can’t pretend that I really understood baseball at all up until a couple of years ago. I really began paying attention to our team — not just casually enjoying a game here and there.

Don’t hate me for this, but I’ve been a casual Dodgers fan for the last few years, too (hey, at least I hate both the Yankees and Red Sox). Seeing my two teams pitted against each other in the World Series was something I never thought would happen, but it did. Spoiler alert: I pulled for the Rays, as I always will.

This year, I’ve really honed in on learning as much about the game as I can. I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go, of course. But can we talk a little less about the technicalities and more about this team for a moment? If there are two things you need to know about the Rays, it’s these: Never count them out, and know that they’re a team with heart.

Do you know how I know that? Watch a smile light up Ji-Man Choi’s face as he tosses a ball to the crowd. Look at Kevin Kiermaier taking a little too much extra time to sign autographs for fans before a game. Check out Brett Phillips’ contagious positive energy and his excitement to grab a teammate’s helmet to celebrate a home run. Let’s be real, Phillips is a beacon of joy for this team. 

And imagine the roar of the crowd when Tyler Glasnow comes off the IL and returns to the mound, because I know y’all love him, too. I’ll probably be crying happy tears myself, being the MASSIVE Glasnow fan I am.

He is 100% my favorite player. Of course, we all know he’s super easy on the eyes — I’m the first to admit that — but that TALENT, too. Maybe one day I’ll even finally score my coveted autographed Glas ball!

This team is truly something special, and I’m so grateful that I’m part of a fanbase that recognizes its Rays for the heart they bring to the game, both on and off the field. They’re resilient, they’re fun and they’re a staple of this community — so let’s keep them here, please.

It’s been so much fun growing up with this team. Even though I still live in the Orlando area, I make it a point to pray for my life out on I-4 and catch a game whenever time permits.

Shoutout to my parents for still living in the St. Pete area and making it easy to do that, and shoutout to my dad — my best baseball buddy — for always being up for cheering on our hometown team. Rays Up!

If you have a story about your journey as a Rays fan and would like to share, please email us at raystherooftb@gmail.com.

My Tribute to the Rays – Shared by Dan Draper

It’s just before 3:10am in Brisbane, Australia. It’s a bit cold outside, houses sit with their lights off and cars on the road are few and far in between. I connect my laptop to the HDMI cable running from my television to my laptop and fire up mlb.tv for what I know will be a great few hours to come. 

Thousands of miles away, fans in St. Petersburg, Florida have taken their seats and settled into the often talked about, yet never truly complimented atmosphere of Tropicana Field. They feel at home and so do I.

Moments later, Tyler Glasnow steps up to the mound, awaiting the moment where he can fire his first pitch to the waiting opponent, who is no doubt intimidated by this long-haired ace and the reputation that precedes him.

The pitch is thrown, it’s a fastball strike…because of course it is. It’s Tyler freakin’ Glasnow.  

I take a deep breath and smile to myself, knowing that for the next nine innings of baseball, nothing else matters. The worries of my life are taken away with every swing, catch and pitch. It is in every way the ultimate distraction. It’s beautiful, it’s baseball.

You see, I suffer from major depression and anxiety. My mental health affects me every day and is often crippling. I find it hard to do everyday tasks and it has even begun to affect my social life. It is very real and can be extremely painful. 

I find it difficult to distract myself from my own negative thoughts and feelings. This has led me to dark places, stints in mental health facilities and often feeling utterly alone. But, for a few hours every day, I get taken away from that dark place by the light that is Tampa Bay Rays Baseball.

Now, you may be thinking that is ridiculous. It’s just a child’s game played by adults and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. 

Sure, I see your point. 

But have you heard the sound of a Randy Arozarena home run? Have you watched Kevin Kiermaier make an outrageous catch in the outfield? Have you jumped, yelled and cheered as Brett Phillips celebrated a walk-off hit?

Have you seen Ji-Man Choi smile?

If you have witnessed any of those things, you may know what I’m talking about.

Baseball is fun. Tampa Bay Rays baseball is absolutely electric.

I cannot thank the Rays clubhouse for providing me with that much needed distraction every day of the season. 

Outside of my family, partner and friends, Rays baseball brings me the utmost amount of joy and happiness. Win or lose. Celebration or heartache. No matter what, I’m grateful for their existence.

In 2019, I enjoyed six straight days of sitting in the Trop and watching the Rays play ball. I cannot wait to be able to travel back to St. Pete to cheer them on again.

So thanks again, Rays. For everything you do to put a smile on this man’s face. I know I’m not alone in that.

Rays Up.

If you have a story about your journey as a Rays fan and would like to share, please email us at raystherooftb@gmail.com.

How hype should Rays fans be for Wander Franco?

On Sunday, it was announced that Wander Franco, baseball’s top prospect for the past two seasons and the top prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays system, was called up to the big league team.

The move was done ahead of the Boston Red Sox series, one the Rays will need to win after a six-game losing skid at the hands of the Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners.

Franco has been one of the most exciting talents the Rays and baseball has seen and the hype surrounding the 20-year old phenom from the Dominican Republic has been insane to put it lightly.

That brings up the question we posed as the headline of this article, which might sound stupid, but it’s 100% a valid question to ask: how hype should Rays fans be for Wander Franco?

To start, there are a few answers to this question, the first one being that we should be incredibly excited and hype for Franco. His debut will probably be the most-anticipated debut in franchise history.

It tops that of Matt Moore and Evan Longoria for sure, at least in our eyes, and with the accolades that he’s received so far and the highlights we’ve seen of him through the minors, it’s warranted.

Franco has the ability to be a franchise cornerstone and a generational talent, a player that baseball fans will talk about for generations. That’s not an exaggeration either.

We can be extremely hype for his call-up, but also, we should make sure to stay on Earth and be realistic about Franco. 

When he makes his big league debut, hopefully on Tuesday, we don’t know what we’re going to see. We can predict it for sure, but once he steps out on the field, we’ll actually be able to start getting a gauge for his talent level at an MLB level.

If he’s going to stay up for good, he’s going to have a strong rookie season no doubt. He’s going to help boost the Rays, who are going through a rough patch right now and need a jolt of energy.

This question, the headline of this article, is more for what’s next after Wander, which is why Rays fans should be incredibly excited.

We saw the first of those players come up in May, Taylor Walls, who will be the shortstop of the future, taking the place of Willy Adames, who was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Franco is the next piece to come up, one that Rays fans weren’t expecting to debut this early in the season. It seemed like Vidal Brujan or Josh Lowe would be the next prospect to debut.

We also saw Kevin Padlo come up early in the 2021 season and has since been sent back down to Triple-A Durham, where he’s been incredible so far.

It still doesn’t seem real that Franco has been called up, and it won’t set in until he actually plays with the Rays uni on.

He’s the biggest name to come up that Rays fans have been expecting, but don’t sleep on Brujan and Lowe. Amongst the group at Rays The Roof, we already knew Franco was going to be exciting, but it was Brujan who we were most excited to see.

Brujan has looked incredible so far in Triple-A and is an excellent fielder. Then, we have Lowe, hopefully the center fielder of the future because it seems that Kevin Kiermaier’s time on the team is slowly coming to an end.

He’s been mashing at the plate and like Brujan, is a stellar defensive player. Those are just the position players, however, as the Rays have plenty more pitching prospects to get very excited for. 

Joe Ryan, Drew Strotman, Shane Baz, and the hopeful returns of Brent Honeywell Jr. and Luis Patino to the big league roster after stints on the Rays earlier this season.

Franco’s call-up caught most everyone by surprise, but what a fantastic surprise it was. He’s going to be excited, but don’t hype him up too much because he’s got a lot of friends in the minors who we’ll be seeing very soon on the major league roster.

The hype is just beginning.