Wander Franco Rookie Card Guide and Key Early Cards

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Spending a couple of years at the top of MLB’s annual rankings of baseball’s top 100 prospects will get you plenty of hobby attention. That’s exactly the case with collectors looking for a Wander Franco Rookie Card. He isn’t some tightly held secret. In fact, even his earliest MLB cards arrived with plenty of fanfare.

At the time of his call-up to the Rays in June, 2021, there were already more than 1,700 different Wander Franco cards. That number is only going to continue to grow. But it also means that there’s plenty of variety as well as some early standouts.

Wander Franco Rookie Card Guide

2021 Bowman’s Best Wander Franco Rookie Card #50

Originally, it looked like collectors were going to have to wait until 2022 to get the first Wander Franco Rookie Card. But then something strange happened. Instead of breaking apart the veterans and prospects like Bowman products have for 15 years, 2021 Bowman’s Best Baseball mixed them all together.

Franco is in a mainstream base set alongside current players like Mike Trout and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Intended or not, it meets all the criteria of being an RC — the only Wander Franco Rookie Card.

It’s worth noting that his 2022 cards carry the “RC” badge. That carries a lot of weight today. Years from now, these 2022 cards might be more desirable. But desirability isn’t one of the criteria for what is and isn’t a Rookie Card. Just look at the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle compared to his 1952 Topps card. Going by standards established decades ago, before Beckett was established, the 2021 Bowman’s Best Wander Franco is a Rookie Card.

Parallels: Refractors, Atomic Refractors, Purple Refractors (/250), Aqua Lava Refractors (/199), Blue Refractors (/150), Green Refractors (/99), Gold Lava Refractors (/75), Gold Refractors (/50), Orange Refractors (/25), Red Refractors (/10), Red Lava Refractors (/5), Superfractors (1/1)

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Franco’s Finest: Top Early Wander Franco Cards

Although collectors have a lot of Wander Franco cards to choose from, he has a couple that are the benchmarks for all of his earliest releases. These are the cards that have set the pace for all of his other minor league and prospect cards prior to the shortstop’s arrival in Tampa Bay.

2019 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autographs Wander Franco #CPA-WF

Other cards came before it and look for some big ones to arrive in the years ahead. But the 2019 Bowman Chrome Wander Franco autograph is the one that many collectors will look to it as his top card. It’s his first MLB autograph card, it’s raised by the brand’s prestige and it has plenty of color to go with it in the form of Refractors.

In May, 2021, one of the card’s Red Refractor parallels, numbered 3/5, sold for $193,200 through Goldin Auctions.

Parallels: Refractors (/499), Speckle Refractors (/299), Purple Refractors (/250), Blue Refractors (/150), Atomic Refractors (/100), Green Refractors (/99), Green Shimmer Refractors (/99), Gold Refractors (/50), Gold Shimmer Refractors (/50), Orange Refractors (/25), Orange Shimmer Refractors (/25), Red Refractors (/5), Red Shimmer Refractors (/5), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1), Superfractors (1/1)

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2019 Bowman Chrome Wander Franco Autograph

2019 Bowman Chrome Prospects Wander Franco #BCP100

Not everyone can afford a 1st Bowman Chrome Wander Franco autograph. The shortstop also has an unsigned Bowman Chrome Prospects card in 2019 Bowman Baseball, not to mention an even bigger Refractor rainbow than the autograph.

Although Bowman Chrome Prospects cards have carried a certain level of popularity for years, they’ve jumped to another level for top players. Many people look at this card as though it were a Wander Franco Rookie Card. It’s technically an insert, so it doesn’t meet the criteria, but that doesn’t change its reception. Part of that is likely a trickle down from the growth of traditional Rookie Cards in recent years. Autographs are still king, but collectors are looking for alternatives that are both more readily available and affordable.

Parallels: Atomic Refractors, Refractors (/499), Speckle Refractors (/299), Purple Refractors (/250), Blue Refractors (/150), Blue Shimmer Refractors (/150), Aqua Refractors (/125), Aqua Shimmer Refractors (/125), Green Refractors (/99), Green Shimmer Refractors (/99), Yellow Refractors (/75), Gold Refractors (/50), Gold Shimmer Refractors (/50), Orange Refractors (/25), Orange Shimmer Refractors (/25), Red Refractors (/5), Red Shimmer Refractors (/5), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1), Superfractors (1/1)

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2019 Bowman Chrome Wander Franco

First Francos: Other Key Early Wander Franco Cards

The following highlights some of the earliest Wander Franco cards from 2018 and 2019. It’s not intended to be a comprehensive list. You can check out a full checklist of Wander Franco cards in the Beckett database.

2018 Elite Extra Edition Wander Franco #67

2018 Elite Extra Edition is the only Panini product of the year to include Wander Franco. While he has several cards on the checklist, his base card is one of the most affordable. Numbered to 999, it’s done with foil stock, something that has been connected to Elite since the mid ’90s.

Parallels: Pink, Aspirations Red (/150), Aspirations Orange (/100), Status Die-Cut Red (/99), Aspirations Blue (/75), Status Die-Cut Emerald (/49), Aspirations Tie-Dye (/25), Status Die-Cut Tie-Dye (/10), Aspirations Gold (1/1), Status Die-Cut Gold (1/1)

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2018 Elite Extra Edition Autographs Wander Franco #67

Autographs are essentially adaptations of the base cards in 2018 Elite Extra Edition. This is a year where signatures are on-card. If you want to quickly spot a pack-inserted autograph versus one that was signed in-person or via a through-the-mail request, there are a couple of signs. The base autograph isn’t serial numbered but his unsigned card is (/999). On the back, autographs from the product have an authenticity statement from Panini.

For those looking for additional Wander Franco autographs in the product, there’s also a Future Threads Silhouette Autographs card. This card comes with a jumbo swatch as well.

Parallels: Aspirations Purple (/100), Status Die-Cut Red (/75), Aspirations Blue (/50), Emerald (/25), Status Die-Cut Emerald (/25), Aspirations Tie-Dye (/10), Tie-Dye (/10), Status Die-Cut Tie-Dye (/5), Aspirations Gold (1/1), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1), Status Die-Cut Gold (1/1)

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2018 Leaf Flash Wander Franco #BA-WF1 Autograph

2018 Leaf Flash Baseball takes a sidestep from the company’s Metal line. It’s similar in that it’s an autograph and has chromium roots with the stock. What makes Flash different is the speckled background. Franco is part of the brand’s baseball debut and also has an additional Flash of Brilliance Autograph on the checklist.

Parallels: Blue (/50), Purple (/25), Green (/15), Orange (/10), Red (/5), Gold (1/1), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1)

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2018 Leaf Metal Draft Wander Franco #BA-WF1 Autograph

2018 Leaf Metal Draft is a direct alternative to Franco’s much more expensive 2019 Bowman Chrome autograph. No it doesn’t have MLB marks or logos, but it has a similar chromium layout. It’s hard-signed and quantities are much more limited, even with all of the parallels taken into consideration.

In addition to the Base Autograph, Franco appears in National Pride, a longtime staple for the brand.

Parallels: Wave, Blue (/35), Purple (/25), Wave Blue (/20), Pink (/20), Black (/15), Wave Purple (/15), Green (/10), Wave Pink (/10), Wave Black (/7), Orange (/7), Wave Green (/5), Red (/5), Wave Orange (/3), Wave Red (/2), Gold (1/1), Gold Super (1/1), Gold Wave (1/1)

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2018 Leaf Trinity Signatures Clear Autographs Wander Franco #CA-WF1

The idea behind the Leaf Trinity line is that it offers three types of premium autographs across the product’s checklist. Franco appears in all three parts in the 2018 set. Clear Autographs get their name from the acetate stock they come on. That means minimal designs but the card itself feels more like plastic and is translucent.

Parallels: Red (/25), Green (/10), Silver (/5), Gold (1/1)

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2018 Leaf Trinity Signatures Wander Franco #A-WF1

Next up is Signatures. It’s clean but elegant. Some signers for these include inscriptions. Franco isn’t one of them.

Parallels: Platinum Spectrum Holofoil (/25), Red Spectrum Holofoil (/10), Silver Spectrum Holofoil (/5), Gold Spectrum Holofoil (1/1)

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2018 Leaf Trinity Patch Autographs Wander Franco #PA-WF1

A patch autograph comes the trifecta. The layout and photo match up with the regular Signatures card of Franco, but there’s also that jumbo patch piece sitting in the middle. It comes from a player-worn piece of gear, not a gamer.

Parallels: Platinum Spectrum Holofoil (/25), Red Spectrum Holofoil (/10), Silver Spectrum Holofoil (/5), Gold Spectrum Holofoil (1/1)

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2018 Leaf Trinity Patch Autographs Wander Franco

2018 Leaf Ultimate Draft Wander Franco #BA-WF1 Autograph

Here’s a card where modern prospecting and nostalgia collide. 2018 Leaf Ultimate Draft, another all-autograph release from the card maker, uses the iconic 1990 Leaf Baseball design as its foundation. Franco also has a second card on the checklist, this time based on 1991 Leaf Gold Rookies.

Parallels: Gold (/25), Silver Prismatic (/15), Gold Prismatic (/10), Red (/5), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1), Purple (1/1)

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2018 Leaf Valiant Wander Franco #BA-WF1 Autograph /99

Instead of going with a background where silver is dominant, the 2018 Leaf Valiant Wander Franco flips it. Color is the basis for the background with silver making up the accents. The result has plenty of pop. Like Leaf’s other 2018 baseball releases, the on-card signature and low print run are among the draws.

Franco also has a separate Rising Stock autograph on the checklist.

Parallels: Orange (/35), Navy (/25), Purple (/15), Yellow (/10), Black (/5), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1), Red (1/1)

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2018 Princeton Rays Grandstand Wander Franco

Topps might have a couple of MiLB lines for national distribution, but old-school regional minor league cards still exist. One of Franco’s first cards comes from his time with the Princeton Rays of the Appalachian League. Available as a part of a team set, it’s not a common card but it’s not totally scarce, either, thanks to niche dealers that specialize in this type of stuff.

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2019 Bowman Chrome 30th Anniversary Autographs Wander Franco #B30-WF /30 (Bowman), B30A-WF /99 (Bowman Draft)

2019 marked three decades since Topps brought back the Bowman brand. Never one to miss an anniversary, the design got some love with some inserts and autographs. Franco appears on two different autograph cards. The one where he’s wearing a cap is from 2019 Bowman Baseball packs. It has just 30 copies. 2019 Bowman Draft has a similar autograph where the shortstop doesn’t have anything on his head. This one is more common and is numbered to 99.

Of course, both sets also have unsigned versions for those who like the 1989 Bowman design or are looking for a more affordable early Wander Franco card. It’s worth noting that the regular inserts have a facsimile autograph that’s part of the design. If you’re looking for the actual signature, look for the Topps authenticity note and serial number on the front. Facsimile signatures are in black. Autographs are in blue.

Parallels: B30-WF – Superfractors (1/1), B30A-WF – Orange Refractors (/25), Red Refractors (/5), Superfractors (1/1)

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2019 Bowman Chrome Mega Box Autographs Wander Franco #BMA-WF

Topps has carved out a several popular Bowman off-shoots. The Target-exclusive Mega Box ranks among the most popular. Looking beyond the wider retail availability, the cards inside the exclusive packs carry the distinct “Mojo” background pattern. Franco’s autograph uses a different photo from his main Bowman Chrome autograph, which further helps this card stand out.

Franco also has a regular Mega Box Refractor in the product. This is essentially a patterned parallel of his 2019 Bowman Chrome Prospects card found in 2019 Bowman packs.

Parallels: Green Refractors (/99), Orange Refractors (/25), Black Refractors (1/1)

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2019 Bowman Mega Box Refractors Wander Franco Autograph

2019 Bowman Chrome Bowman Sterling Continuity Wander Franco #BS-10

Before it made a comeback as a standalone brand later in the year, Bowman Sterling was an insert set in 2019 Bowman Baseball. Part of a 20-card checklist, there’s one Sterling Continuity card in every 24 2019 Bowman hobby packs. They’re 1:6 in hobby jumbo. They’re not overly hard to find, which helps make them affordable. This card is tougher than Franco’s Bowman Chrome Prospects card, though, and at a fraction of the price.

Parallels: Atomic Refractors (/150), Gold Refractors (/50), Orange Refractors (/25), Red Refractors (/5), Superfractors (1/1)

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2019 Bowman Sterling Continuity Wander Franco

2019 Bowman Chrome Draft Sapphire Wander Franco #WDC93

When you compare Franco’s first Bowman Chrome card to the one released later in the year in 2019 Bowman Draft, it’s kind of like comparing a #1 comic book to the second issue (or an RC to a second-year card). However, the shortstop’s first Bowman Chrome card didn’t get the Sapphire treatment.

2019 Bowman Chrome Draft Sapphire was available for a very short time through Topps’ website. With it comes the shard-like background that adds both pop and pretty chaos. It’s not a scarce card but when you compare it to the print runs of full-release mainstream products, it’s not nearly as common. This is reflected in the parallel numbers as well.

Parallels: Blue (/99), Green (/50), Orange (/25), Gold (/15), Purple (/10), Red (/5), Padparadscha (1/1)

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2019 Bowman Chrome Draft Sapphire Wander Franco

2019 Bowman Heritage Chrome Prospect Autographs Wander Franco #53PAWF

Another online-exclusive, 2019 Bowman Heritage draws inspiration from 1953 Bowman Baseball. While that means no names on the front, Franco’s signature is pretty distinct.

Parallels: Refractors (/99), Gold Refractors (/50), Orange Refractors (/25), Red Refractors (/5), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1), Superfractors (1/1)

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2019 Bowman Platinum Top Prospect Autographs Wander Franco #TOP9

Target gets Mega Boxes, Walmart gets Bowman Platinum. Sold exclusively at the retail giant, 2019 Bowman Platinum has the same prospect focus of every Bowman release. But instead of chromium, cards come on foil. This includes Franco’s Top Prospect Autographs card. The signature is also on a sticker, something not used in a lot of Bowman products.

Franco has a few other insert autographs in 2019 Bowman Platinum.

Parallels: Green (/99), Ice (/50), Orange (/25), Red (/10), Foilfractors (1/1)

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2019 Bowman Sterling Prospect Autographs #BSPA-WF

2019 Bowman Sterling is a little confusing. It started the year as an insert set in 2019 Bowman Baseball (that Franco has an insert and an autograph in). Then it became a standalone release as well. As with the brand’s earliest days, landing autographs in bulk are the angle standalone Sterling takes. For this particular release, that means a signed card in every pack.

Franco’s autograph is included in packs as a redemption. The final card is live, but down the road it’s something to consider with unopened packs and boxes as the redemption has an expiry date (July 31, 2021).

Parallels: Orange Refractors (/75), Gold Refractors (/50), Blue Refractors (/25),

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2019 Bowman’s Best Best of 2019 Autographs Wander Franco #B19-WF

Bowman Chrome might have the prestige when it comes to a player’s early MLB autographs. But there comes a point where come collectors might be left wondering at what cost. The 2019 Bowman’s Best Baseball Best of 2019 Wander Franco uses Chrome stock, has an on-card signature and features the Rays star in an MLB uniform. When you compare the price to Franco’s corresponding 2019 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autograph, you should be able to land this Bowman’s Best autograph for half the price (or less). Given how expensive early Wander Franco autographs are, that’s a big difference.

Parallels: Refractors, Blue Refractors (/150), Green Refractors (/99), Gold Refractors (/50), Atomic Refractors (/25), Red Refractors (/10), Printing Plates Black (1/1), Printing Plates Cyan (1/1), Printing Plates Magenta (1/1), Printing Plates Yellow (1/1), Superfractors (1/1)

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2019 Bowman's Best Wander Franco Autograph

2021 Topps Now Wander Franco #402

The day after his debut, Wander Franco had his first baseball card as a major leaguer. By the time the season finished, the shortstop had a dozen cards in the set. However, his debut is the most notable as it captures the first moments of his big league career. In just 24 hours, the card sold 61,305 copies, the most ever for a Topps Now baseball card. In addition to the regular card, an autographed memorabilia with a piece of base from the game was sold separately.

Parallels: Blue (/49), Purple (/25), Red (/10), Orange (/5), Gold (1/1)

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2021 Topps Now Baseball Wander Franco

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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1 comment

  1. Jason Myers 12 May, 2022 at 21:23

    I think it’s only appropriate that Beckett recognizes the 2021 Topps Now RC-05 as the first true Wander Franco rookie card. Per much of your previous statements on rookie cards, there are limitations on when “rookie” can be used on a card (plus “RC” logo not being the only indicator). The 2021 Topps Now RC-05 is the first and only 2021 card to have the Topps Rookie Trophy, which indicates CBA-compliance to refer to rookie and uses Topps’ time honored icon for rookies.

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