Having tools is one thing. Knowing how to use them is what turns a well-hit single into a double.
Wander Franco, MLB’s No. 1 overall prospect, put his talent and his baseball intelligence to use on Saturday, hustling his way into a two-bagger in the Rays’ 2-0 win over the Twins. He scored on a single by Dalton Kelly, giving Tampa Bay an insurance run heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The 20-year-old shortstop entered the game on defense in the sixth and faced Minnesota right-hander Ian Hamilton from the right side to lead off the ninth. Franco yanked a soft liner into right field and immediately stepped on the gas. Although Twins outfielder Rob Refsnyder cut the ball off well in front of the wall, Franco engaged his 55-grade speed to haul to second base and slide safely under the tag from shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin.
It was the first Grapefruit League double for Franco, who has yet to play a game as high as the Double-A level. He’s 7-for-31 (.226) with a home run over 14 games this spring.
Meanwhile, No. 2 A’s prospect A.J. Puk put his four-pitch mix featuring a 70-grade fastball to work in his finest outing of the spring yet. A contender for a spot in Oakland’s rotation, Puk pitched four innings of one-hit ball against Texas, striking out three without issuing a walk.
The 25-year-old left-hander, who had Tommy John surgery in 2018, has been building strength since undergoing surgery to clean out his left shoulder last September. He entered Saturday having made two previous Cactus League appearances this year, allowing five runs — all earned — over a total of 3 2/3 innings.
His third turn was a different story. Puk’s only blemish was a one-out infield hit by Jason Martin in the first inning, and the 2016 first-rounder erased the baserunner by getting Adolis García to ground into a double play. After a 1-2-3 second, Puk was perfect again in the third, punching out the last two batters of the frame. Martin reached on an error in the fourth but was caught stealing, allowing Puk to face the minimum. He recorded five outs on the ground compared to one in the air.
More notable performances from top prospects on Saturday:
The top Orioles prospect ripped a double into right to bring in a run for Baltimore in the eighth inning. He was plated later in the frame on a Tyler Nevin homer. The backstop now has a hit in three straight games and has doubled in two of the last three contests. Rutschman has notched six hits and a pair of RBIs across nine Grapefruit League games. Gameday »
The No. 2 Marlins prospect put together his best effort of the spring with a home run, a triple, a pair of RBIs and two runs scored. Bleday hammered a ball to the wall in left-center for an RBI three-bagger in the fourth before turning around a 3-2 fastball the other way for a bullet dinger in the sixth. The 23-year-old now has five extra-base hits and five RBIs across 18 Grapefruit League games. Gameday »
Riley Greene, OF, DET (MLB No. 21)
Entering as a seventh-inning defensive substitute in left field against the Phillies, Greene was an instrumental part of the Tigers’ eight-run eighth without registering an at-bat. He followed Grayson Grenier’s leadoff homer with a walk, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Dustin Garneau. Stepping into the box again with two outs and the bases loaded, Greene earned an RBI by working another walk. He has seven bases on balls over 19 games this spring, helping him to a .419 OBP. The 20-year-old outfielder had a .271/.347/.403 slash line over 57 games across three Minor League levels after the Tigers selected him fifth overall in 2019. Gameday »
Randy Arozarena, OF, TB (MLB No. 34)
Out of action with a sore left wrist since Monday, Arozarena started in right field and batted third against the Twins. In the sixth, the right-handed hitter won an eight-pitch battle against lefty Caleb Thielbar, lining the final offering into left-center field with a 109.4-mph exit velocity. Arozarena, who belted 10 home runs and posted a .442 OBP over 20 postseason games for the Rays last year, is 9-for-35 (.257) with a couple doubles and a walk over 13 Grapefruit League games. Gameday »
Nick Madrigal, 2B, CWS (MLB No. 40)
A famously tough out, Madrigal lived up to his billing against the Rockies. The 24-year-old second baseman worked a walk against Colorado righty Germán Márquez, then poked a 1-2 pitch from righty Jairo Díaz back up the middle for a single. Madrigal, who posted a .376 OBP over 29 big league games for the White Sox last year, is 8-for-25 (.320) over nine Cactus League games. Gameday »
Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA (MLB No. 53)
The Angels’ top prospect saw limited action through the beginning of camp while he finished recovering from a 2020 shoulder labrum injury, but has amassed 17 plate appearances over 12 games. On Saturday, he played center field through a seven-inning game against the Padres and reached in each of three trips to the dish. He was hit by a Blake Snell pitch in the second, worked a walk against Snell in the fifth and lined a single into right field against Keone Kela in the seventh. Gameday »
The third-ranked Cubs prospect entered the game as a defensive replacement behind the dish for Willson Contreras in the eighth inning, and in his only at-bat of the game laced a double into left that plated Nick Martini. The knock was Amaya’s second extra-base hit and drove in his second run of the spring over 12 Cactus League games. Gameday »
Bobby Dalbec, 3B/1B, BOS (MLB No. 93)
After homering twice this week, Dalbec was credited with a two-run single when Pirates center fielder Anthony Alford lost a fly in the sun on Saturday. The 2016 fourth-rounder is 14-for-45 (.311) with seven dingers over 18 Grapefruit League games. He had eight homers and three doubles over 23 big league games last year. Gameday »
On a night when Mariners manager confirmed that Trammell would be part of Seattle’s Opening Day roster, the 23-year-old solidified the decision even further. Trammell finished 2-for-2, with a two-RBI single in the second inning and a two-run moonshot to right-center in the fourth. The four-RBI outburst doubled his total for RBIs this spring to eight, and the sixth-ranked Mariners prospect is now sporting a .302/.388/.628 slash across 18 Cactus League games. Gameday »
Estevan Florial, OF, NYY
The left-handed-hitting Florial went 2-for-4 with a couple of singles and an RBI, but his first knock of the game — a second-inning wall-banger against Blue Jays southpaw Anthony Kay that left Florial’s bat at 105.5 mph — would have gone for extra-bases were it not for runners on with one out. Facing Kay with the bases loaded the next inning, the 10th-ranked Yankees prospect drilled a single off the pitcher’s shin. Florial has had just 13 plate appearances over nine games, but he has four hits, a steal and three RBIs. Gameday »
Ryan Vilade, OF, COL
Vilade tripled in his only plate appearance against the White Sox, lacing a 1-2 slider from Chicago righty Ryan Burr into center field with an exit velocity of 103.1 mph. The 22-year-old outfielder is 10-for-31 (.323) over 24 spring games but has yet to play a game at the Double-A level. Gameday »
Owen Miller, SS/2B, CLE
After homering Friday, Miller went 2-for-2 with his second Cactus League double, two RBIs and two runs scored against the Dodgers on Saturday. He’s already been told he won’t make the club out of camp, but he’s hitting .378 through 21 spring games. Miller had a .290/.355/.430 slash line for Double-A Amarillo in the San Diego system in 2019. Gameday »
Bryan Abreu, RHP, HOU
Abreu learned he made the team after going three innings for the second straight time, also facing the Mets for the second straight time. After a perfect start against New York on Monday, the 23-year-old righty coasted through the first two-thirds of the lineup Saturday. He shrugged off a first-inning walk to Francisco Lindor and stranded Jeff McNeil (hit by a pitch) in the second by tallying three strikeouts in the opening two frames. The Mets broke through with three hits in the third, but Abreu limited the damage to a couple runs. He’s made 11 big league appearances for the Astros going back to 2019. Gameday »
The fifth-ranked Royals prospect reached base three times against the Brewers — with a pair of knocks and a walk. Isbel’s base hit in the sixth drove in a pair of runs for Kansas City. The 24-year-old is batting .342 with five RBIs over 21 games this spring. Gameday »
The 25th-ranked Orioles prospected crushed a three-run dinger to deep center field in the eighth inning. The blast scored Adley Rutschman and Yusniel Diaz. Nevin also punched a single to left in the second. It marked the first homer for the 23-year-old this spring who raised his batting average to .281 over 23 Grapefruit League games. Gameday »
The fifth-ranked Reds prospect led off the seventh inning with a bullet homer to right-center field. The blast was his third of the spring with Cincinnati. India is now sporting a .333/.455/.644 slash line through 20 Cactus League games. Gameday »