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Franco’s AAA assignment highlights Rays minor league rosters

The game’s top prospect will be in a Durham Bulls uniform next week.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Friday, Rays affiliates released preliminary rosters. All four full-season affiliates are scheduled to start the 2021 season on Tuesday.

As the graphic makes clear, the highlight here is the top prospect in baseball, Wander Franco. The assignment is not a surprise. He leads a deep infield with three other quality prospects. There are only three natural outfielders, but Dalton Kelly and Vidal Brujan will probably play out there too.

The pitching staff may not have as many of the big names as the projection, but that’s because call ups have been needed in the majors. Drew Strotman is starting a level higher than I expected him to.

The Rays did opt for Ford Proctor in Double A, and he’s joined by two other players who deserve innings behind the plate.

Shane Baz is by far the top prospect on the pitching staff, but he’ll be backed up by a lot of pitchers who have had minor league success, like Michael Plassmeyer, Tommy Romero, and Caleb Sampen.

Bowling Green did not have a graphic to tweet. With Proctor in Double A, that leaves Blake Hunt behind the plate for the Hot Rods.

A bit of a surprise was Pedro Martinez’s Class A-Advanced assignment. Acquired in the Jose Martinez trade, the infielder is just 20 years old and hasn’t played full-season ball.

Since I noted the Proctor projection I was proud of, it’s important to note that my rotation projection for Bowling Green was bad. Only one of those five starters are on the roster. I was too aggressive.

Charleston rejoins the organization with most of those pitchers I expected to start the season one level higher. With Cole Wilcox, Seth Johnson, and John Doxakis, it’s a pretty talented staff.

They have four catchers listed on the roster, and Heriberto Hernandez is not one of them. He’s listed as an outfielder. With that kind of depth at the position, it’s not immediately clear how often Hernandez will be behind the plate, if at all.