Wander collects four hits, again
Another day, another spectacular performance from Wander Franco.
MLB Pipeline's top overall prospect notched his second four-hit effort of the year and drove in three runs in Triple-A Durham's 6-5 loss to Norfolk at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Tuesday.
"He's very driven. He does not like it when he's not performing up to his standards. And those are pretty high," Bulls skipper Brady Williams said. "He's always focused on what he needs to do -- on defense, in the cage, baserunning. He wants to perform well every night and when he doesn’t he just focuses on getting better."
It was the third straight multihit game for Franco, who is 9-for-14 with a homer, a triple, a pair of doubles, seven RBIs and three runs scored over this span. Tuesday also marked the fifth game with at least four knocks in the top Rays prospect's career.
After lining out sharply to center field in the first, Franco legged out an RBI single to first base in the third. The speedster put the pressure on pitcher Dean Kremer, who was attempting to cover the bag on the play, but he couldn't handle the toss from first baseman Ryan Ripken.
"He was busting it down the line and would have beat him to first regardless," Williams said. "The errant throw allowed the second run to score on the play, but he would have picked up the RBI anyway."
The 20-year-old wasted no time in the sixth, leading off the inning and beating out a ground ball to second for another infield knock. He would be stranded at first to end the frame.
In the eighth, Franco connected on a 2-0 fastball with one out and laced it into center for a two-bagger. It was his 13th extra-base hit of the year. Two batters later, the Dominican native scampered home on a double by Ryan Boldt.
The stage was set in the ninth for some late game heroics. With the bases loaded and two outs, Franco stepped to the plate representing the winning run. After working the count even to 2-2, he connected with a high fastball from Fernando Abad and punched it through a hole on the left side of the infield for a two-RBI single to pull the Bulls to within a run. Franco advanced to second on the throw home but would be stranded in scoring position to end the game.
"He's the right guy up in that situation. You know something good is going to happen there, and he drove in two runs for us. Picked up a base hit with two strikes," Williams said. "But we've had that situation a few times already this year when he's up with the bases loaded and the game is on the line. It happened in Memphis and Jacksonville already. No moment is too big for him."
Franco is sporting a .299/.361/.536 slash line with four dingers, a pair of triples, seven doubles, 21 RBIs and 19 runs scored over 23 games this season.
"He just wants to win. That's very apparent," Williams said. "He always wants to perform well, but he wasn't happy tonight. His team comes ahead of him."