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Franco to play in Olympic qualifier (source)

Former All-Star Bautista will also headline Dominican club
@HarriganMLB
March 2, 2020

Rays shortstop Wander Franco, MLB's No. 1 overall prospect, will play for the Dominican Republic in the Olympic qualifier later this month, a source told MLB.com's Juan Toribio. The Rays have not confirmed the decision.

Rays shortstop Wander Franco, MLB's No. 1 overall prospect, will play for the Dominican Republic in the Olympic qualifier later this month, a source told MLB.com's Juan Toribio.

The Rays have not confirmed the decision.

Just last week, MLB, the MLB Players Association and the World Baseball Softball Confederation agreed to allow 40-man roster players who are not in the Majors to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games and the two qualifying tournaments preceding it.

The Dominican Republic will join the United States, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Venezuela in vying for a single qualifying spot in the Americas Qualifying Event on March 22-26 in Arizona. The second- and third-place teams in the Americas qualifier will be granted entry into the final qualifying tournament. Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea have already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

The addition of Franco could provide a major boost for the Dominican team. The 19-year-old offers a wide range of skills, including an 80-grade hit tool on the 20-80 scouting scale. In two Minor League seasons, Franco has hit .336/.405/.523 with 20 homers and 22 steals in 175 games. He reached the Class A Advanced level last year.

Former Major League home run king José Bautista and D-backs prospect Geraldo Perdomo will also play for the Dominican Republic, according to MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

The 39-year-old Bautista most recently played in the big leagues in 2018. Although he spent this past winter working out as a pitcher in hopes of returning as a two-way player, Bautista is expected to play first base for the Dominican Republic, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Perdomo, 20, is Arizona’s seventh-ranked prospect and is ranked No. 82 overall . The switch-hitting shortstop batted .275/.397/.364 with three homers and 26 steals in 116 games at two Class A levels last season.

Thomas Harrigan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HarriganMLB.