Although most of the Tampa Bay Rays projected Opening Roster didn’t make the trip to West Palm Beach to take on the Washington Nationals, it was a significant game for the Rays as uber-prospect Wander Franco led off and played shortstop for Tampa Bay. Since Franco is considered to be the hottest prospect in all of baseball, we couldn’t help narrowing our focus on him for Friday’s game.
The following is a full recap of his day:
1st plate appearance, facing Steven Strasburg.
- Called strike, 90 mph down he middle (strike)
- Laid off a breaking ball in the dirt (ball)
- Fouled a pitch off (strike)
- Fouled a nasty curveball off
- Laid off a fastball in the dirt (ball)
- Swung through a nasty Strasburg changeup (strike three)
Second plate appearance, facing Paolo Espino
- Ball outside
- Curveball dropped in for a called strike
- Ripped a ball foul down the right side
- Ball, borderline call at the knees
- Pitch up and in, fouled off Franco’s bat
- Fouled off a 69 mph curveball
- Golfed another slow curve from Espino into right field for a routine flyout
Third plate appearance, facing Austin Voth
- Fouled off the first pitch fastball
- Way out in front of a 75 mph curveball, still made contact and hit a soft groundball to second
Fourth plate appearance, facing Kyle Finnegan
- Fouled of a first pitch fastball (again)
- Ball, inside and bounced at the plate
- Laced a pitch into left-center field for a single.
Franco came around to score on a Brian O’Grady double.
Franco caught a routine pop up in bottom of first
In the bottom of the third, Howie Kendrick popped one up that sent Wander Franco into shallow center field as he battled the sun and wind to make a fine running catch.
Some Game Notes
Meanwhile, after Steven Strasburg appeared incredibly dominant early on, the Rays touched him up for three runs in the second inning. Vidal Brujan ended Strasburg’s day after lacing a pitch into right-center field to bring around two runs with a double; Brujan would then be caught stealing third base.
During the bottom of the second inning, Andrew Stevenson stole second base and Kevan Smith’s throw missed the mark by a wide margin, soaring over Brujan’s head and into center field. However, Brujan played a good deke on Stevenson as he kept his glove on him throughout the entire play to make it seem he was in possession of the ball.
Dalton Kelly has a bizarre batting stance; he also had two base hits.
Randy Arozarena misplayed a single in right field, allowing the Nationals to score in the top of the first. It was a groundball that just went underneath Arozarena’s glove.
Yandy Diaz was being shifted heavily to the left side of the infield. He laced a couple of balls towards the right side. One got through, he would be robbed after a tremendous play from the Nationals’ first baseman on the other.
Brian O’Grady absolutely crushed a home run to right field in the third. It was a tremendous blast that probably resulted in the ball landing in the Atlantic Ocean. O’Grady had a terrific game at the plate. He would be robbed of a base hit on fine play by Starlin Casto, then later on, O’Grady beamed a ball into the right-center field gap for a base clearing double that brought two more runs in.
Note from the Editor: Perhaps you are wondering what the final score was of this game. It does not matter, it is Spring Training. Thanks for reading!