9:52pm: Franco told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that he hopes to return to the big league club in around two weeks but conceded the specific timetable was fairly fluid.
1:05pm: The Rays announced Tuesday that shortstop Wander Franco has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a strained quadriceps. His spot on the active roster will go to righty Shawn Armstrong, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A Durham. Tampa Bay designated lefty Ben Bowden for assignment in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Armstrong.
Franco was lifted from yesterday’s game after his third hit of the day after he felt what manager Kevin Cash described as a “tug” in the same quad muscle that held him out of a few games a bit more than a week ago. He’ll now be sidelined for at least the next 10 days following a recurrence of the issue.
The Rays aren’t short on options to fill in for Franco, with Taylor Walls, Vidal Brujan and Isaac Paredes all on the big league roster at the moment. That’s not to say Franco’s absence won’t sting, of course, even if it’s abbreviated in nature. The consensus No. 1 overall prospect in baseball heading into the 2021 season, Franco has compiled a .281/.331/.447 slash through his first 498 plate appearances (121 wRC+) while turning in strong defensive ratings at shortstop.
Bowden, 27, was a waiver claim out of the Rockies organization a month ago. He’s yet to appear in the Majors this season but tossed 10 innings for Tampa Bay’s Triple-A affiliate in Durham, allowing a pair of runs on nine hits and seven walks with 10 strikeouts along the way. Those seven free passes in Durham represented a 15.9% walk rate — a continuation of the longstanding command issue that have plagued Bowden throughout his minor league career.
The Rockies selected Bowden with the 45th overall pick back in 2016. He’s at times looked like an intriguing prospect but also struggled with inconsistency over the years since that lofty selection in the draft. Bowden had terrific Double-A numbers in 2019 and was outstanding in Triple-A last year — 11 2/3 scoreless innings, 17-to-4 K/BB ratio — but his big league debut last season didn’t go nearly as smoothly. In 35 2/3 frames for the Rockies, Bowden was tagged for a 6.56 ERA with a 23.7% strikeout rate and a bloated 11.9% walk rate.
The Rays will have a week to trade Bowden, pass him through outright waivers or release him. He’s already been claimed once this season, and with any lefty who can miss bats, there’s always a chance another club will have some interest either in a small trade or via waiver claim.