Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Wander Samuel Franco Sr. was destined for baseball greatness at a young age. Franco's father, also named Wander Franco, played in the minor leagues, while his uncles, Willy and Erick Aybar, competed in the MLB. Franco also has two brothers, Wander Alexander and Wander Javier, who had a taste of the minor leagues themselves.
Since the age of 16, Franco has widely been considered one of the most promising baseball prospects. The Tampa Bay Rays saw that promise in Wander, signing him to a $3.825 million minor league contract on July 2, 2017. Wander quickly labored through the Tampa Bay Rays minor league system, and it was just a matter of time before he'd get the call up to the major leagues.
Franco received the call on June 20, 2021, ultimately making his major league debut two days later. Wander quickly met his lofty expectations and has emerged as decisively the most encouraging players in the league. The generational talent has solicited an extreme amount of attention from not just baseball enthusiasts but baseball card collectors as well. With that said, let's analyze the top 10 best Wander Franco cards in the baseball card collecting landscape.
2020 Donruss Optic Wander Franco Rated Prospects Signatures Gold #RPS-WF #'d/10
Recent sale: $1,800
Wander Franco's 10th most valuable baseball card arises from 2020 Donruss Optic, comprising 20 packs of four cards in each hobby box. Since being printed on July 22, 2020, collectors have pursued Wander's Franco cards from the set, none more coveted than his Rated Prospects Signatures Gold card. Serial-numbered to only 10 copies, Wander's Franco's Rated Prospects Signatures Gold parallel card is one of baseball collectors' most desirable Wander Franco cards. Franco's Rated Prospects Signatures Gold card is one of two of his most valuable cards yet to attain a PSA or BGS 10. Graded a PSA 9, this is one of the finest examples of Franco's Rated Prospects Signatures Gold card, with just a single card graded higher, meriting a BGS 9.5.
At just 16 years old, Wander Franco was one of the most significant international prospects of the 2017 class, and the Tampa Bay Rays jumped at the opportunity to sign the prodigy. Competing for the Princeton Rays in the Appalachian League, Wander Franco made his professional debut on June 19, 2018. Through 61 games, Franco led the club in home runs (11), RBIs (57), hits (85), and triples (7).
Franco was a two-time Appalachian Player of the Week, Appalachian League All-Star, Appalachian Post-Season All-Star, 2018 Appalachian League Player of the Year, and a Baseball America Minor League All-Star for his efforts. Considering Franco's Rated Prospects Signatures Gold parallel card is limited to only 10 copies, and collectors have yet to achieve a PSA or BGS 10, one can only imagine the potential value for Franco's card should a higher grade surface.
2019 Bowman's Best Wander Franco Future Foundations Die Cuts Autographs Atomic Refractor #FFA-WF #'d/25
Recent sale: $1,800
Wander Franco's next card emerges from 2019 Bowman's Best, issued by Topps in two mini boxes, each containing six packs of five cards. As baseball hobbyists chase one Franchise Favorites Autograph and five Atomic Refractor Insert parallel cards, Wander Franco's Future Foundations Die-Cuts Autographs Atomic Refractor card is his most coveted of the set. Franco's Atomic Refractor card from 2019 Bowman's Best is serial-numbered to 25 copies and is one of four cards to merit a PSA or BGS 10.
By the conclusion of his 2018 season with the Princeton Rays, Baseball America ranked Wander Franco as the 4th best prospect. As a result, the Rays promoted Franco to the Bowling Green Hot Rods in the Midwest League. After Franco tallied six home runs, 29 RBIs, a .318 batting average, 14 stolen bases, 16 doubles, and five triples through just 62 games, he left the Rays no choice but to promote him midseason to the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the Florida State League. In 52 games with the Stone Crabs, Franco tacked on another three home runs, 24 RBIs, a .339 batting average, and 11 doubles.
Wander Franco earned a spot in the Sirius XM 2019 All-Star Futures Game and was selected as a Baseball America Minor League All-Star for the second consecutive season. Franco's 2019 season put the baseball world and sports card collectors on notice as Franco continued to surge as one of the top prospects in baseball, where his 2019 Bowman’s Best Future Foundations Die-Cuts Autographs Atomic Refractor card remains one of his most cherished.
2022 Topps Series 1 Wander Franco Gold RC #215 #'d/2022
Recent sale: $2,150
Franco's next most expensive card is his Gold parallel card from 2022 Topps Series 1, recently issued on February 16, 2022. Topps issued the set in hobby boxes containing one autograph or relic card, and one silver pack, while hobby jumbo boxes feature one autographed card, two relic cards, and two silver packs. Franco's Gold parallel card has a print run of 2022 copies and underscores the loftiest serial-numbered card on the list. With a PSA population of 27, this PSA 10 graded Wander Franco Gold card is one of 11 cards to merit a PSA 10.
The next destination on Franco's path to MLB stardom brought him to the Dominican Winter League, where he competed for the Gigantes del Cibao and the Leones del Escogidos. Franco recorded just 11 games for both clubs, tallying 12 hits across 46 at-bats, two of which were home runs.
Although Franco only appeared in 11 contests in the Dominican Winter League, he accumulated additional experience abroad, enabling his success when he returned stateside. While Wander Franco's Gold parallel card was recently allocated in the 2022 Topps Series 1 set, it's one of his most sought-after cards at the moment.
2021 Bowman's Best Wander Franco Gold Refractor #50 #'d/50
Recent sale: $2,255
Issued on December 31, 2021, the 2021 rendition of Bowman's Best baseball is similar to the 2019 release, offering collectors two mini boxes containing six packs of five cards. The most valuable Wander Franco card of the set to date is his Gold Refractor parallel, serial-numbered to 50 copies. Franco's Gold Refractor has a total population of four, all of which are graded by PSA. This particular copy of Franco's card attained a PSA 10, one of two copies that warranted PSA's loftiest grade.
After competing in the Dominican Winter League, the Tampa Bay Rays offered an invitation to Franco, the number one ranked prospect in baseball, to attend spring training before the 2021 MLB season. After spring training, the Rays elected to keep Franco in their minor league system, competing for the Durham Bulls in the Triple-A East League. On a mission to prove his MLB readiness, Franco went berserk for the Durham Bulls, smashing seven home runs, 35 RBIs, six triples, 11 doubles, and a sublime .313 batting average across a mere 40 games.
At the brink of playing at baseball's highest level, baseball collectors were well aware of the inherent value of his Wander Franco’s rookie cards if he could meet his lofty expectations, leading to the four-figure price tag that his Gold Refractor parallel card from 2021 Bowman's Best conveys.
2019 Topps Pro Debut Wander Franco Autographs Red #50 #'d/10
Recent sale: $3,000
2019 Topps Pro Debut is a 200-card set that encompasses the most talented baseball prospects from the MiLB. Distributed on May 22, 2019, in 24 packs of eight cards, collectors can anticipate two autographs and two relic cards in each hobby box. Franco's most valuable card from the 2019 Topps Pro Debut is his Autographs Red parallel card, limited to 10 copies. Featuring an on-card autograph of Franco competing for the Princeton Rays, Franco's Autographs Red card has a total PSA and BGS population of three. The sale of Franco's Autographs Red card possesses a BGS 9.5, with just one copy deserving a higher grade.
The number one prospect in baseball had a substantial scouting report from baseball analysts. On a grading scale of 20-80, Franco was graded an 80 for hitting, 60 for power, 55 for running, 55 for arm ability, and a 50 for fielding, attaining an overall grade of 70. Wander Franco's statistics with the Durham Bulls were so potent that his call-up to the major leagues was imminent.
Considered one of the ultimate prospects in baseball since the age of 16, Wander Franco's baseball cards soared in value before the Tampa Bay Rays promoted the budding phenom, particularly his Autographs Red card from the 2019 Topps Pro Debut set.
2019 Bowman Chrome Wander Franco Prime Chrome Signatures Orange Refractor #PCS-WF #'d/25
Recent sale: $4,000
Franco's next card surfaced from 2019 Bowman Chrome, released as a 200-card set on September 18, 2019. 2019 Bowman Chrome was issued in two variations, including hobby and HTA Choice boxes. Hobby boxes contained 12 packs of five cards where collectors can expect two autographed cards, one Elite Farmhands Insert, and one Shimmer Refractor parallel. In contrast, HTA Choice boxes contained one pack of three cards, each showcasing an autograph. The set's most sought-after Wander Franco card is his Prime Chrome Signatures Orange Refractor card, limited to 25 copies. Franco's Orange Refractor card is graded a PSA 10, one of five copies to earn a PSA or BGS 10.
The Tampa Bay Rays officially called up Wander Franco on June 20, 2021, who made his Major League Baseball debut on June 22, 2021, versus the Boston Red Sox. In his first career at-bat, Wander Franco drew a walk, later coming around to score his first career run. Franco made emphatic contact in his second at-bat, though he flied out to center field. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Wander Franco blasted his first career home run off Eduardo Rodriguez. Franco then smashed a double in the 7th inning before grounding out in the bottom of the ninth. Franco finished his day going 2-4 from the dish, including a home run, a double, and three RBIs.
The long-awaited debut of Wander Franco was officially over, and Wander's generational talents were finally in full swing, where his Prime Chrome Signatures Orange Refractor card from 2019 Bowman Chrome is among his most coveted baseball cards.
2019 Bowman Heritage Wander Franco Chrome Prospect Autographs Gold Refractor #53PA-WF #'d/50
Recent sale: $4,216
2019 Bowman Heritage pays homage to 1953 Bowman, which was one of Bowman's finest baseball sets ever issued. 2019 Bowman Heritage was released on December 5, 2019, through the Topps website, with only 8,458 boxes produced. The 250-card 2019 Bowman Heritage set allocated 24 packs of 10 cards in each hobby box. Wander's most beloved card from the set is his Chrome Prospect Autographs Gold Refractor card, serial-numbered to 50. Since its release, 25 of Franco's Gold Refractor cards have surfaced, though only four cards, or 16%, attained a PSA or BGS 10, this copy being one of them.
While Franco homered in his first career MLB game, he got off to a relatively cold start in June and July, where he tallied three home runs, 14 RBIs, and a .239 batting average through the first two months of his MLB career. Franco also struck out 26 times compared to 10 walks through his first two months of the 2021 season.
As the narrative unfolded, Franco's cold streak would quickly come to an end, and Franco's generational talents would shortly be on display. As such, the worth of his Chrome Prospect Autographs Gold Refractor card has continued its upward trend in significance.
2019 Bowman Mega Box Wander Franco Chrome Prospects Mojo Refractors Holding Bat VAR #BCP-100B
Recent sale: $4,600
The 2019 Bowman Mega Box is a Target-only retail release that contains six packs, four of which comprise 2019 Bowman baseball cards, while two packs are exclusive and highly sought-after Chrome Mega Box cards. Franco's highly coveted card emerged from the Chrome Mojo checklist as he holds his bat over his left shoulder. Franco's Chrome Prospects Mojo Refractor card is his most populated card on the list, graded 87 times between PSA and BGS. Despite this, Franco's Chrome Prospects Mojo Refractor card is one of his most condition-sensitive cards, as only 14% warranted a PSA or BGS 10.
Wander Franco started to heat up in August of the 2021 season, where he walked more times (nine) than he struck out (8). Franco finished the month with three home runs, 19 RBIs, and a .313 batting average while registering eight doubles. He also began his extremely unprecedented on-base streak, where he reached safely in 43 straight games. In doing so, Franco surpassed Mickey Mantle's 36 game on-base streak for an MLB player under the age of 20.
After striking out 26 times versus 10 walks through his first 29 games, Franco would only strike out 11 times in his final 41 games, compared to 14 walks to conclude the 2021 season. Franco's patience at the plate and ability to reach base safely contributed to his remarkable first taste of the big leagues, where his Chrome Prospects Mojo Refractor card from the 2019 Bowman Mega Box continues to be deeply sought-after.
2019 Bowman Sterling Wander Franco Prospect & Rookie Autographs Black Atomic #BSPA-WF #'d/10
Recent sale: $5,000
2019 Bowman Sterling was made available on August 14, 2019, and features five packs of six cards, comprising one autographed card in each pack. Wander Franco's Prospect & Rookie Autographs Black Atomic card from the set is capped at 10 copies, tied for his most limited card on the list. Only five of Franco's cards have surfaced, none of which warranted a PSA or BGS 10. This copy of Franco's Black Atomic card is graded a BGS 9.5, representing the highest graded card in existence.
After being called up by the Tampa Bay Rays, Wander Franco exploded onto the scene. Across 70 games in the 2021 season, Franco tallied seven home runs, 39 RBIs, and a .288 batting average. Wander also registered 18 doubles, while his five triples were just three short of the league-leading eight, though Franco only played 70 contests. Overall, Franco recorded a .288/.347/.463 slash line during his incredible 2021 campaign.
Franco's performance gave the Rays a lasting impression of the budding superstar, who offered him an 11-year, $182 million contract that can be worth up to $223 million if Franco reaches particular milestones. Wander Franco is quickly becoming the face of the Tampa Bay Rays, where he will contend for a World Series title for the club until the 2033 season. Franco's Prospect & Rookie Autographs Black Atomic card has become his second most valuable card due to its low print run, on-card autograph, and early MLB success.
2019 Bowman Wander Franco Chrome Prospect Autographs Gold Shimmer Refractor #CPA-WF #'d/50
Recent sale: $40,500
The most valuable and sought-after Wander Franco card is none other than his Chrome Prospect Autographs Gold Shimmer Refractor card from 2019 Bowman. 2019 Bowman became available on April 17, 2019, in both hobby and hobby jumbo boxes. Hobby boxes were configured in 24 packs of 10 cards featuring one autographed card, while hobby jumbo boxes include 12 packs of 32 cards containing three autographs. Graded a BGS 9.5 for card condition and a BGS 10 for Franco's blue-penned autograph, Franco's Gold Shimmer Refractor card fetched nearly ten times more than his second most valuable card.
While Franco's 2021 season may have been abbreviated, it was nothing short of historic. With the 2022 MLB season underway, Franco hasn't skipped a beat, registering six hits through his first 12 at-bats, including a double and three RBIs. Considering Franco's ability to showcase patience at the plate and make solid contact, the sky is the limit for Franco in the 2022 season, where he has the tools to put himself in the MVP conversation.
The Tampa Bay Rays are strong contenders to compete for the American League East division title in the 2022 season, with Wander Franco at the helm. Wander Franco cards are arguably the most sought-after in the game right now, and it doesn't look like that'll change anytime soon, as his Chrome Prospect Autographs Gold Shimmer Refractor card leads the way as one of his most treasured baseball cards ever printed.
The Wander Show
Wander Franco may have only played 73 Major League Baseball games, yet he may be the most feared batters in the game. With Wander Franco leading the way, the Tampa Bay Rays are +330 to capture the American League East, +800 to capture the American League Pennant, and +1500 to win the 2022 World Series. Wander Franco is also one of the leading American League MVP candidates at +2000. Should Wander Franco continue to meet or exceed expectations, the sky is the limit for him, the Tampa Bay Rays' success, and the value of his rookie cards.