Wander Franco is the consensus top prospect in Major League Baseball for the second straight year entering 2021, but the phenom doesn't want it to stay that way.
"I'm ready to play in the big leagues," Franco said Saturday via team interpreter Manny Navarro, according to Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times. "I'm ready to achieve the goal that I've been trying to achieve since I was a little kid, to make it up to the big leagues."
Franco will turn 20 at the beginning of next month as spring games are just getting underway. As a teenager, Franco made it as high as High-A in 2019, hitting .339/.408/.464 with three homers and four steals over 53 games. The shortstop did not play professionally in 2020 after the ongoing coronavirus pandemic led to the minor-league season's cancellation, but he remained a member of the Tampa Bay Rays' player pool.
While Franco has his eye on an Opening Day roster spot, he knows there are other factors in play.
"It's not in my control," Franco added. "If they send me to Double-A, or wherever they send me, my job is to work. I've had plenty of opportunities in the past, and I'm just going to continue with every opportunity that I get."
Incumbent shortstop Willy Adames is coming off a breakout 2020 season, during which he hit .259/.332/.481 with eight homers and two steals in 54 games.
Franco will be participating in his first full spring training camp with the major-league team this year. The Rays open their exhibition contests against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.
Tampa Bay initially signed Franco as an international prospect out of the Dominican Republic in 2017 when he was considered the top player of the class.