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Got Wander lust? Franco may debut soon

Morton scoreless in first outing; Beeks, Fairbanks impress; B. Lowe leads offense
@juanctoribio
February 25, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Wander Franco, the No. 1 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, is hoping to make his Major League debut at some point during the 2020 season, but Rays fans will likely get a look at the 18-year-old phenom during Spring Training games this week.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Wander Franco, the No. 1 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, is hoping to make his Major League debut at some point during the 2020 season, but Rays fans will likely get a look at the 18-year-old phenom during Spring Training games this week.

A source tells MLB.com that Franco will get into Thursday’s split-squad game against the Tigers at Charlotte Sports Park, and there’s also a good chance that he will play in Friday’s Grapefruit League game against the Nationals in West Palm Beach, Fla. It’s also likely that Franco will play in other big league games throughout the spring.

Franco slashed .339/.408/.464 in 52 games with Class A Advanced Charlotte last season. The Rays haven’t made a decision on where Franco will begin the 2020 season, but it’s believed that the 18-year-old could be on Double-A Montgomery’s Opening Day roster.

Morton makes first start
Charlie Morton made his first start of the spring in Tuesday’s 15-2 win over the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium, tossing a scoreless frame. In typical Morton form, he said that one of his biggest goals for the day was to not hit anybody on the O’s.

“Last year, I hit two of their guys,” Morton said. “I hit two of their guys back-to-back on heaters, and I felt awful about it. I’m glad that didn’t happen.”

Morton threw 11 pitches on Tuesday, 5 for strikes. Ten of the pitches were four-seam fastballs. Morton said he wishes he would have thrown more offspeed pitches during his outing, but he added that he has time to work on it.

“We’re not going to value whether he throws one breaking ball or 10 in his first Spring Training outing,” said manager Kevin Cash.

Grapefruit League notes
Jalen Beeks and Peter Fairbanks, who are both looking to make the Opening Day roster, had clean innings against the O’s. Offensively, Brandon Lowe went 2-for-2 with a triple and a bases-clearing double. Ryan LaMarre recorded three hits and Randy Arozarena added two. In three Spring Training games, Arozarena is 4-for-4 with two walks.

“He can find the barrel,” Cash said. “He’s got a lot of confidence to get deep in the at-bat, he doesn’t care and it seems when he gets his pitch, he’s not missing it.”

Michael Perez had one of the most impressive swings of the game, launching a three-run homer in the seventh inning off Dillon Tate.

Up next
Blake Snell will make his first Grapefruit League start on Wednesday when the Rays host the Twins at Charlotte Sports Park at 1:05 p.m. ET. José Alvarado, Ryan Sherriff, Colin Poche and D.J. Snelten are also scheduled to pitch for Tampa Bay.

The full lineup is:
Randy Arozarena, LF
Yandy Díaz, DH
Ji-Man Choi, 1B
Hunter Renfroe, RF
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, 3B
Willy Adames, SS
Kevin Kiermaier, CF
Kevan Smith, C
Mike Brosseau, 2B

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.