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Red Sox at Rays lineups: Wander-ful tonight

The No. 1 prospect in baseball makes his Major League debut against Eduardo Rodriguez and the Sox.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Tampa Bay Rays
Get used to this. Or don’t. It won’t feel great!
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox and reeling Rays begin a crucial three-game series tonight in St. Petersburg (7:10 p.m., NESN), where Wander Franco, the No. 1 prospect in baseball and a potentially generational talent, will make his Major League debut.

It was always a matter of when Franco would get the call this year, not if, and with the Rays on a six-game losing streak, the front office decided to promote their wunderkind infielder. A shortstop by trade, he’ll play third base tonight. Since MLB Pipeline, MLB’s in-house prospects site, was founded 10 years ago, only two players have received an 80 hitting grade on the 20-80 scale, with AL MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. being the other. But that doesn’t even tell the whole story. Vladito, genius as he is, is a bat-first corner infielder, whereas Franco is an above-average defender and baserunner. And even that isn’t the craziest part. The craziest part is that Franco, a switch hitter, gets an 80 grade from both sides of the plate. Anything can happen with prospects — just as Jarred Kelenic — but few have ever held as much promise as Franco before his first game.

He’ll bat second against Eduardo Rodriguez, whose 6.21 ERA belies his solid underlying stats, and who will try, yet again, to bring them into line. Andrew Kittredge will open for the Rays but is expected to quickly give way to Ryan Yarbrough, who should pitch the meat of the game. They’ll face a lineup that once again features Danny Santana in the leadoff spot, about which we can do little at this point but laugh and say prayers for Jarren Duran under our collective breaths. Anyhow, here are the full lineups:

Game 73 at Rays

Lineup spot Red Sox Rays
Lineup spot Red Sox Rays
1 Danny Santana, CF Yandy Díaz, 1B
2 Alex Verdugo, LF Wander Franco, 3B
3 J.D. Martinez, DH Austin Meadows, DH
4 Xander Bogaerts, SS Randy Arozarena, LF
5 Rafael Devers, 3B Manuel Margot, RF
6 Hunter Renfroe, RF Francisco Mejía, C
7 Christian Vázquez, C Brandon Lowe, 2B
8 Kiké Hernández, 2B Taylor Walls, SS
9 Bobby Dalbec, 1B Kevin Kiermaier, CF
SP Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP Andrew Kittredge, RHP