No opportunity is ever a sure thing, even those who are considered the very best.
That said, it is ranked as the number 1 prospect for two years in a row, in general, future star status.
Hiking Franco is the No. 1 prospect in Baseball America’s Top 100 for the second year in a row in 2021. He is only the fourth player to rank as the game’s best prospect in subsequent years. The others are Andruw Jones (1996-97), Joe mauer (2004-05) and Bryce harps (2011-2012).
That trio has combined for 17 all-star selections, 13 Gold Glove Awards, nine Silver Sluggers and two Most Valuable Player Awards, with Harper still active and adding to the sum.
Most potential customers No. 1 reach the main subjects within a year of ranking and upgrade from prospect status. To rank as the No. 1 prospect two years in a row, you must demonstrate extraordinary potential at a young age at the lowest levels.
Jones hit .277 / .372 / .512 with 25 home runs, 100 RBIs and 56 stolen bases on Low-A Macon in 1995 to vault to No. 1 prospect status before the 1996 season. He limited himself all the way up to the main subjects that year, known homering in its first two at-bats of the World Series as a 19-year-old, and remained the game’s best prospect into the 1997 season before graduating.
Walls are a somewhat unique case. The future three-time American League batting champion hit .338 / .398 / .434 when he climbed to Double-A as a 20-year-old in 2003, cementing himself as the game’s best prospect into the 2004 season. Mauer made the Twins Opening Day list in 2004 and was set to be educated from prospect status, but he tore the left medial meniscus in his second game and missed almost two months. He returned in June, but pain and swelling in his knee forced him to end the season in July. He hit .308 / .369 / .570 in majors even during his shortened injury period, and because he did not accumulate enough bats due to the injury, he remained the best prospect in baseball into the 2005 season.
Harper was drafted No. 1 overall in 2010 to huge hype and ranked as the No. 1 prospect who entered the 2011 season despite not having played an official game yet, even though he played in the Arizona Fall League after have been prepared. He fulfilled his promise by hitting .297 / .392 / .501 with 17 home runs, 58 RBIs and 26 stolen bases when he climbed to Double-A Harrisburg as an 18-year-old in his pro debut. This performance kept him as the game’s No. 1 prospect on his way into 2012, and at the end of April he was in the majors and on his way to winning the NL Rookie of the Year.
Franco, of course, may not still be a prospect if not for the coronavirus pandemic. The ancient prey hit hit .327 / .398 / .487 when he climbed to High-A as an 18-year-old and had a chance to start the 2020 season on Double-A, putting him at a striking distance from the big ones. Instead, he is still a prospect on his way into 2021, and is still the best in baseball. If he can perform like his ancestors as a two-time combined 1-prospect, the Rays will have a franchise cornerstone for years to come.
2021 MLB Top prospects for each team
Baseball America’s Annual Mid Season Top 30 potential ranking updates are here.
All-Time Baseball America No. 1 Prospects
2021: Hiking Franco, SS, rays
2020: Hiking Franco, SS, rays
2019: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays
2018: Ronald Acuña, OF, Braves
2017: Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox
2016: Corey seager, SS, Dodgers
2015: Kris bryant, 3B, Cubs
2014: Byron buxton, OF, twins
2013: Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers
2012: Bryce harps, OF, nationals
2011: Bryce harps, OF, nationals
2010: Jason hey, OF, Braves
2009: Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
2008: Jay bruce, OF, Red
2007: Daisuke matsuzaka, RHP, Red Sox
2006: Delmon Young, OF, rays
2005: Joe mauer, C, twins
2004: Joe mauer, C, twins
2003: Mark Teixeira, 3B, Rangers
2002: Josh beckett, RHP, Marlins
2001: Josh Hamilton, OF, rays
2000: Rick ankiel, OF, cardinals
1999: JD Drew, OF, cardinals
1998: Ben Grieve, OF, Athletics
1997: Andruw Jones, OF, Braves
1996: Andruw Jones, OF, Braves
1995: Alex rodriguez, SS, sailors
1994: Cliff Floyd, OF, Expos
1993: Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves
1992: Brien Taylor, LHP, Yankees
1991: Todd Van Poppel, RHP, Athletics
1990: Steve avery, LHP, Braves