Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Wander Franco hits a three-run home run off Boston Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez during the fifth inning of a loss Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Photo by Steven J. Nesius/UPI | License Photo
June 23 (UPI) -- It might have come in a loss, but star prospect Wander Franco produced a smashing debut for the Tampa Bay Rays. The young third baseman homered and drove in three runs against the Boston Red Sox in his first MLB game.
Franco also scored twice and took a walk in the 9-5 setback Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. He went 2 for 4 in the loss.
"He is a pretty electric player," Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters. "I wish we would have somehow gotten a win because it would have been in large part from his contributions."
The top player in MLB's prospect rankings spent more than three seasons in the Rays' Minor League system. He walked in his first at-bat and hit a flyout in his second at-bat.
Franco ripped into an 82.8-mph slider for a 362-foot home run in the third at-bat for the first hit of his career. The blast traveled 95.5 mph off Franco's bat and took just 4.8 seconds to clear the outfield fence, according to Statcast.
"It felt super good," Franco told reporters. "In that at-bat I actually knew I was going to hit a home run because that was the pitch I was looking for.
"I ended up getting the pitch I was looking for and I was able to help the team out."
The Rays entered the bottom of the fifth frame down 5-2. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez hit Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch to start the half inning. Yandy Diaz followed with a ground ball single to right field, which put two runners on for Franco.
Franco hit his game-tying, three-run homer on the first pitch of the exchange. The 20-year-old infielder doubled in his next at-bat and ended his night with a ninth-inning groundout.
The score stayed tied through the ninth inning. The Red Sox then plated four runs in the top of the 11th inning to earn the victory.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts led the Red Sox with three hits on the night. Third baseman Rafael Devers and right fielder Hunter Renfroe drove in three runs apiece for the Red Sox. Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez drove in another two runs in the victory.
Catcher Francisco Mejia was the only player other than Franco to drive in a run for the Rays. He went 2 for 3 in the loss. Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena went 3 for 5.
Rodriguez allowed seven hits and five runs in six innings for the Red Sox, but was not on the record for a decision.
The Rays host the Red Sox at 7:10 p.m. EDT Wednesday at Tropicana Field.