The easy answer would be because most talent evaluators and scouts universally recognize him as the owner of the best combination of tools, performance, and future projection.
All of those reasons are true, however, Franco is the best prospect in MLB because he has no weaknesses.
He is as close to a sure thing as it gets when it comes to prospects, in a league so difficult and demanding that even some of the best (like Jarred Kelenic, for example) struggle in their first taste of it.
An 80-Grade Prospect
Eric Longenhagen, FanGraphs’ prospects expert, put an 80 grade on Franco.
Players are often evaluated in a 20-80 scale, with 50 considered ‘average’.
An 80 evaluation means that the prospect is a generational talent with virtually no flaws.
“Last year Franco became the first 80 FV prospect of the Future Value era at FanGraphs, the best prospect on the planet, and the best I’ve evaluated during my tenure here at the site.”
The expert says that Franco already has above-MLB average exit velocities, so hitting the ball hard is, by no means, an issue.
Sweet-swinging, 18-year-old #Rays phenom Wander Franco. No. 1 on our #Top100Prospects list, and just the second prospect we've ever given an 80-grade hit tool: https://t.co/66C0q4yFSB https://t.co/r9tfgLdCO4
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 10, 2020
And he is a switch-hitter, no less.
Not only did FanGraphs rank Franco at the top of their list: other prospect evaluation sites and experts did.
Franco is the best prospect in baseball according to Sporting News, Baseball America, and MLB.com, among several others.
All of his tools rate as above-average or better, including his arm and his defense.
He may outgrow the shortstop position at some point in the future, but he is above-average there right now.
His bat does the heavy lifting, though, and it’s, in great part, the reason why Franco is considered the top prospect in MLB.
If you are a pitcher, you just can’t win against Franco.
“Franco’s short levers and lightning-quick wrists make it nearly impossible to beat him with velocity, especially on the inner half. He is also especially adept at spoiling well-located back-foot breaking balls, and if you miss with one and catch even part of the zone, he can drop the bat head and yank it out to his pull side. Work away from him and he’ll extend his arms and pepper the opposite field gap with line drives, then use his speed to turn lots of those into doubles.”
An MLB-Ready Bat At 20 Years Old
In the batter’s box, he has no weaknesses, and that’s why he is a threat to bat .300 year in and year out in the big leagues.
When it comes to power, he may not be a 40-homer threat with his current swing, but he will comfortably hit 20 and can challenge 30.
Frankly, there is no point in trying to change such a beautiful swing and turn him from a .310-25 bat into a .280-95 one.
Another thing that separates Franco from his peers, besides succeeding at Triple-A while being a 20-year-old (.315/.367/.586 line this year) is his knowledge of the strike zone.
Over his minor league career, he has walked more than he has struck out (95 to 75), which is a very rare development for such a young player.
There is a lot that distinguishes Wander Franco as an elite prospect — the power, the speed, his ability as a switch-hitter — but it is his command of the strike zone as a hitter that really jumps out: In 214 professional games, he has 95 walks and 75 strikeouts.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 22, 2021
Overall, there are almost no chances of Franco struggling to adapt to MLB.
He is advanced, young, and still can get better, and there are no prospects like him in organized baseball.