Tampa Bay Rays Rookie Wander Franco Makes “Electric” MLB Debut

It appears the sky’s the limit for Wander Franco

In his Major League Baseball debut, the 20-year-old Dominican professional baseball player started at third base, doubled, homered, drove in three runs and showed a flair for the dramatic with a curtain call in the Tampa Bay Rays‘ 9-5, 11-inning loss to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

Wander Franco

Franco, who walked in his first MLB plate appearance in the first inning, tied the game at 5 in the fifth with a 362-foot homer that drove in Kevin Kiermaier and Yandy Diaz.

 

He showed confidence — and some swagger — on the base paths and electrified the crowd at Tropicana Field.

 

Called up from Triple-A earlier in the day, Franco raised his right arm as he neared the plate and lifted both arms while crossing the plate to a roaring crowd when he connected in the fifth off Eduardo Rodriguez and drew his first curtain call in the majors.

 

“In that at-bat I actually knew I was going to hit a home run because that was the pitch I was looking for,” Franco said through an interpreter. “I ended up getting the pitch that I was looking for and I was able to help the team out.”

Franco pointed toward his father, who was at the game, while crossing the plate. His father, meanwhile, reacted with pure joy when the home run was hit.

Franco got the ball back and plans to display it at his home in the Dominican Republic.

“I felt super good,” he said through an interpreter. ”God sent me a surprise with all this.”

Franco even drew a nice ovation when he went on the field to run pregame, and got a partial standing ovation when the Rays’ lineup was announced over the public address system.

“Pretty electric player,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Win or loss, we’re trying to win them all obviously, but it had to be a great day for Wander and his family. A talented player that’s going to be fun to watch in the coming months.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora agreed.

“What a good player he is,” he said. “The way he controls the at-bat for how young he is. They have a special one.”

Franco hit .315 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 39 games this season at Triple-A Durham.

Rays’ Randy Arozarena Breaks Record for Most Hits in Single Postseason

Randy Arozarena is breaking records like theyre going out of style

 

The 25-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder and Tampa Bay Rays rookie, who had already set the MLB record for most home runs in a postseason, now owns the record for most hits in a single postseason after his third-inning base hit off Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw in Sunday’s Game 5 of the World Series.

Randy Arozarena

 

Arozarena hit a 1-2 slider to left field for his 27th hit this postseason. He was tied with Pablo Sandoval, who had 26 hits in the 2014 postseason. The single brought home Yandy Diaz, who had tripled.

 

It was the first of Arozarena’s 27 hits with a runner in scoring position. Arozarena was previously 0-for-6 in that category.

 

“Pretty special. Pretty special,” manager Kevin Cash said after the Rays’ 4-2 loss to the Dodgers that left Tampa Bay in a 3-2 series deficit. “He wanted the ball, too. I noticed that. He asked for the ball. Congrats to Randy.”

 

After reaching first base, he signaled for someone to get the ball for him as a keepsake. Arozarena also has a record nine home runs in his first playoff experience, while Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is right behind him with eight.

Game 6 is Tuesday at Globe Life Field.

Edwin Encarnacion Traded to the Seattle Mariners

Edwin Encarnacion is headed to the Emerald City…

The 35-year-old Dominican professional baseball player has been acquired by the Seattle Mariners from the Cleveland Indians, sending Carlos Santana back to Ohio as part of a three-team trade that also includes the Tampa Bay Rays.

Edwin Encarnacion

The Indians will receive first baseman Jake Bauers from the Rays, while Tampa Bay will get third baseman Yandy Diaz from Cleveland. The Indians also are sending minor league pitcher Cole Sulserto the Rays and the 77th pick in the 2019 competitive balance draft to the Mariners.

Tampa Bay will send $5 million to Seattle, and the Mariners will pay $6 million to Cleveland.

Encarnacion hit .246 with 32 home runs for the Indians last season. He was third in the American Leaguewith 107 RBIs. His streak of seven consecutive seasons with at least 30 home runs leads all active players.

“We’re excited to add a proven offensive performer in Edwin Encarnacion,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “In addition, by adding another draft pick for 2019, we have another opportunity to add to the talent in our minor league system.”

However, with the Mariners having made a flurry of moves — recently trading star second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz — the team wouldn’t tip its hand if Encarnacion would be staying.

“We’ll see how it goes with Edwin, whether he stays with us or he moves on to another destination,” Seattle assistant general manager Justin Hollander said.

Santana returns to the Indians, where he started his career in 2010 before signing with the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency prior to last season. He was traded to the Mariners on December 3.

Encarnacion mostly served as the Indians’ designated hitter in 2018 but also started 23 games at first base. Cleveland ranked 23rd in the majors last season with a .312 on-base percentage from their first basemen. Santana provides an immediate upgrade in that department, as he had a .365 OBP during his eight seasons with the Indians and a .352 OBP with the Phillies.

Overall, Encarnacion has 380 career home runs with 1,156 RBIs and a .264 batting average.

He is guaranteed $25 million: $20 million next season and a $5 million buyout of a $25 million club option for 2020.

Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies last offseason and has a base salary of $17 million in 2019 and $17.5 million in 2020. His contract has a club option for the 2021 season worth $17.5 million with a $500,000 buyout.

He hit .229 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs in 2018.

Coming off their third straight AL Central, the Indians had been expected to make a move at the meetings, presumably with ace Corey Kluber or pitcher Trevor Bauer.

“Not sure how to feel,” Indians star Jose Ramirez tweeted.

Yonder Alonso hit 23 homers with 83 RBI last season as the Indians’ first baseman. He’s signed for 2019 with an option for 2020 — with the additions of Santana and Bauers, perhaps Alonso could end up in a trade along with one of Cleveland’s star pitchers.

Tampa Bay was eager to get Diaz, who hit .283 with 28 RBIs in 88 games for Cleveland in the last two seasons. Highly regarded at 27, his opportunities were limited with the Indians because they already had a talented infield.

“The key to this deal for us is how we feel about Yandy Diaz,” Rays vice president Chaim Bloomsaid. “We really like his bat. He hasn’t gotten an opportunity to show it regularly at the major league level just being blocked by some of the players that the Indians have had.”

Bauers made his major league debut last season and hit .201 with 11 homers and 48 RBI in 96 games for Tampa Bay.

Sulser spent last season in Triple-A and Double-A, going a combined 8-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 47 relief appearances.

Tampa Bay will send the Mariners $2.5 million in two installments by May 1 and Aug. 1 next year. Seattle will send Cleveland a pair of $1 payments on or before May 1 and Aug. 1 next year, and $2 million on or before each of those dates in 2020.

Diaz Makes the Cleveland Indians’ Opening-Day Roster

Yandy Diaz is ready for the big leagues…

The 25-year-old Cuban infielder has made the Cleveland Indians‘ opening-day roster after he was expected to start the season in the minor leagues.

Yandy Diaz

Diaz, who batted .325 in 95 games at Triple-A Columbus last season, is considered one of the Indians’ top prospects. He had an excellent spring camp and the American League champions have decided he’s ready to make the jump at the start of the Major League Baseball season.

“Yandy’s spring training was terrific. I think we all agree. If you look at Yandy’s last year, we were trying to figure out a place for his bat,” said team manager Terry Francona. “That’s why he was going to the outfield. It’s not a kid who got 45 at-bats and never hit. He has been a good hitter and he’s becoming a better hitter.”

Diaz could start at third base. The Indians have to shuffle players around with second baseman Jason Kipnis and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall starting the season on the 10-day disabled list.

Francona said infielder Michael Martinez also has made the 25-man roster. Martinez appeared in 95 games for Cleveland last season and made the final out in Game 7 of the World Series.

Third baseman Giovanny Urshela and infielder Erik Gonzalez were optioned to Columbus.

“We spent a lot of time talking through this decision over the course of the last few days and met again this morning,” general manager Chris Antonetti said. “It was a difficult decision. We felt we had a lot of good alternatives and choices we could have chosen. It’s a reflection of how Gio and Erik did as well in addition of how Yandy and Michael played. This puts us in a strong position to start the season.”

Diaz was apprehensive when he walked into Francona’s office, fearing he would be sent to the minor leagues.

“I was super nervous when Chris and Tito called me in,” Diaz said. “I’m going to be 2,000 percent excited on opening day.”