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Franco named Rays’ Minor League Player of the Year

ST. PETERSBURG — Shortstop Wander Franco was named the Tampa Bay Rays’ Minor League Player of the Year during a before the team’s game against the Boston Red Sox At Tropicana Field on Monday night.

The No. 1 overall prospect in baseball according to both MLB.com and Baseball America hit .327 with nine home runs, 53 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 114 games between the organization’s Class-A affiliates in Bowling Green and Charlotte. Franco led all Rays minor leaguers with 82 runs and tied for first in hits with 139.

Righthanded starter Joe Ryan was awarded the team’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 9-4 with a 1.96 ERA (123.2-IP, 27-ER) in 24 appearances across three minor league stops. He led the organization with 183 strikeouts in just 123 2/3 innings, which ranked second in all of Minor League Baseball.

Pitcher Simon Rosenblum-Larson was named the Erik Walker Community Champion, which recognizes a Rays minor leaguer who exemplifies teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement.

The following players were named Most Valuable Player for their respective minor league teams: infielder/right-handed pitcher Jake Cronenworth (Durham Bulls, Triple-A); left-handed pitcher Josh Fleming (Montgomery Biscuits, Double-A); right-handed pitcher Tommy Romero (Charlotte Stone Crabs, Class-A); right-handed pitcher Caleb Sampen (Bowling Green Hot Rods, Class-A); shortstop Greg Jones (Hudson Valley Renegades, Short-A); outfielder Diego Infante (Princeton Rays, Rookie-level); infielder Abiezel Ramírez (Gulf Coast League Rays, Rookie-level); infielder Alfredo Balbuena (Dominican Summer League Rays 1, Rookie-level); and infielder Johan López (Dominican Summer League Rays 2, Rookie-level).

Other awards included Baserunner of the Year honors for infielder Vidal Bruján, righthander Tyler Zombro as the Reliever of the Year and infielder Taylor Walls as the Defensive Player of the Year.

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