Videos by OutKick
Wander Franco is one of the most promising young players in Major League Baseball today. His barehanded catch on Monday night is the perfect example as to why.
Franco, 22, signed with Tampa Bay as an international free agent in 2017. He was just 16 years old at the time, but was widely regarded as the future of the position before he even made his professional debut.
Again, it’s not hard to see why.
Franco has since risen through the ranks of the Rays’ minor league system and made his MLB debut — as the No. 1 prospect in baseball — in late June of 2021. His call-up was a huge deal and, barring unforeseen circumstance, he will be the starting shortstop in central Florida for… probably ever.
For Tampa Bay to let Franco go, ever, as long as he’s making plays like he did on Monday would be silly. It all went down in the top of the fifth inning against Houston.
Wander Franco was on his toes in the ready position.
Astros catcher Martín Maldonado drove a high pop fly down the third base line. As soon as the bat made contact, Franco was on his horse.
The young shortstop tracked the fly ball into the outfield, called off the third baseman and left fielder, and followed it into foul territory. He was right under the ball.
There was only one problem. Franco overran it by one, maybe two steps, so he had to reach back across his body toward the line.
The ball was coming down just beyond his out-stretched glove, and for a moment, looked like it was going to drop.
But Franco had other plans.
Casual, pic.twitter.com/pZzsqmwcmd— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 25, 2023
Rather than extending his body out even further to make the catch, he simply used his barehand to pull-in the popup for out number one. Insane.
What Franco did on Monday is simply not normal.Nobody just uses their barehand to catch a fly ball like that. He looked like Odell Beckham Jr. against the Cowboys in 2015.