The Rays compete directly against the Red Sox and the New York Yankees who both have the advantage of having higher financial support. While this offers us an advantage of trading and obtaining higher ranked players, we saw the financial downfalls when we faced a luxury tax and draft selection punishment this past year. This was a price that many Red Sox fans and management deemed as necessarily for being 2018 World Champions.
2019 marks the fifth straight year that the Rays have been placed on MLB’s Pipeline list of the top 10 farm systems. As a result of a lower financial backing, the Tampa Bay Rays rely heavily on building a system filled with the best players around the world. As Tampa Bay Director of Minor League Operations Mitch Lukevics stated,
"“We depend and rely on our scouting and player development system on domestic or international more than any team in baseball and we have less margin of error here. If some teams have errors, they can go buy some players. We don’t have that luxury, so we would want to do what’s right for the player and err on the side of caution.”"
Franco is an 18-year-old Dominican born shortstop playing in the Rays organization. Franco was named as the number 1 player on the 2019 Prospect Watch. Baseball runs in the switch-hitters family. His father and both uncles on his mom’s side played baseball in the minors. He’s a dynamic offensive player who has both power and speed. Playing in the Dominican he often faced players considerably older than him, now giving him immense confidence.
Defensively he exhibits good range. Scouts believe that he could later be moved around to different positions within the infield. In 2 seasons he has a .341 BA, .409 OBP, and a .556 SLG. Defensively he’s accumulated a .949 Fielding Percentage, 241 Assists, and 20 Errors in 108 games.
Franco dropped out of school after the sixth grade so he could dedicate himself to training for professional baseball. Bowling Green third baseman Connor Hollis commented on his talent stating,
"“He does some things you’ve never seen before on a baseball diamond. A barehand play that you wouldn’t ever think to barehand — he makes it look easy. Hits two home runs oppo in the same game. There are some things you don’t ever see, and it leaves you astonished. You don’t know what to do.”"
Hernandez is a 21-year-old Columbian born catcher playing in the Rays organization. He’s listed as number 80 on the MLB Prospects 2019 list. During a 5-year period in the minors, he’s recorded a .300 BA, .354 OBP, and .470 SLG. Defensively he has a .989 Fielding Percentage, 250 Assists, and 21 Errors over 221 games.
Hernandez has appeared on the Awards and Honors board including being named Player of the Week, 2018 Mid-Season All-Star, 2018 Baseball America Low Class A All-Star, 2018 Post-Season All-Start, and MiLB Organization All-Star in 2017 and 2018.
The Rays have another prospect who will be playing in the Futures Game: pitcher Brendan McKay.