Accused baseball sensation Wander Franco has always kept his mystery wife out of the spotlight, never naming her in interviews – but today DailyMail.com can reveal she is 21-year-old Rachelly Paulino.
The Tampa Bay Rays shortstop, who is being investigated over a claimed relationship with an underage girl in his native Dominican Republic, married Paulino after the 2021 MLB season.
Franco has never publicly mentioned Rachelly’s name, although the 22-year-old All-Star has proudly boasted of his namesake first son, Wander Samuel Franco Jr., who was born in 2018.
The couple welcomed another son in 2022 and DailyMail.com can reveal that Franco bought a $1.55million five-bedroom home in an upscale Tampa neighborhood in May this year.
Rachelly Paulino, 21, was Wander Franco’s childhood sweetheart and they married in 2021, but the baseball star has never mentioned her name publicly
Franco, 22, is being investigated by Major League Baseball and authorities in the Dominican Republic over alleged relationships with underage girls
Franco bought a five-bedroom, $1.55 million home in an upscale Tampa neighborhood in May of this year. He’s under an 11-year contract to play for the Tampa Bay Rays, but it’s now doubtful he’ll ever play in MLB again.
Both Paulino and Franco hail from Bani, a town on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic 65 miles from the capital Santo Domingo, and appear to have been a fixture of their teenage years.
Franco’s mother, Nancy Aybar, proudly posted a photo of the then 15-year-old birthday girl on Facebook on September 10, 2016, with a slightly different spelling of her first name. She also affectionately called her “daughter-in-law”.
She wrote: ‘Today is the birthday of a very special person to me, it’s Rachely Paulino my love, may God shower many blessings on you dad and may he make you a good wife and may he guide you on the right path. Congratulations, my daughter-in-law.
On the same day, the then teenager’s friend, Ymanolisse Mejia Garo, posted a long gushing message in Spanish which included: ‘September 10, 2001, 15 years ago today Rachelly Paulino Aristy was born my love, my sister, my partner… we’ve been through so much in our friendship that we’ve come to the point of being inseparable.
Writing above a photo of the couple with their faces smeared in what appears to be white cream, she continued: “Wow love I still can’t believe you are finally 15 and I met you when I was 11, your friendship is so precious and important to me.
A close relative of Rachelly – contacted by DailyMail.com about the allegations surrounding Wander – said she saw the young woman growing up. But she added “I have no opinion” on the claims or the state of the couple’s marriage.
Franco, who signed an 11-year, $182 million contract in 2021, has radically agreed to be placed on the Rays’ shortlist after posts in Spanish on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, surfaced. were published on Saturday evening and went viral on Sunday. .
As a result, he was dropped from this week’s six-game road trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The messages alleged he had an inappropriate relationship with a minor – and two days later the attorney general’s office in his native country reportedly received a complaint against Franco from a second daughter, aged 17, in July. The age of consent in the Dominican Republic is 18.
Ymanolisse Mejia Garo (right) posted a photo with the future Mrs. Franco with their faces covered in white cream at Rachelly’s 15th birthday in 2016
The Rays said in a statement, “We are taking the situation seriously and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as part of its due diligence.”
Now his future in the game is unclear. Dominican journalist Hector Gomez posted on social media a quote from “a person very close to the investigations into the Wander Franco affair”.
“Wander Franco will be highly unlikely to play in MLB again, judging by the results of ongoing investigations, which directly implicate him in the charges against him,” it read.
The stadium hero was in the dugout for the first five innings of the Rays’ game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg against the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday, then left.
Just before the match, he posted an Instagram livestream at the stadium, insisting in Spanish: “They say I’m with a young girl, that I’m running with a minor there.”
‘Is that crazy, man? People don’t know what to do with their time.
“These people need to move. One is here focused, doing my thing, you see, thank God. That’s why I prefer to be on my side and not get involved with anyone because people are so talkative.
His Rays teammate Jose Siri then entered the recording and shouted “people after the money”.
Franco also reportedly told his teammates privately that he did not have an inappropriate relationship with a minor.
His denial comes as MLB investigators and officials from the Dominican Republic’s attorney general’s office are believed to be in Bani to investigate the allegations.
The investigation is led by magistrate Olga Dina Llaverias, head of the National Directorate for Boys, Girls, Adolescents and the Family.
Franco watches from the dugout during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday in what could be his last MLB game
Franco’s mother called her daughter-in-law Rachelly – nuera in Spanish – in a post on her 15th birthday
Both Franco and Paulino are from Bani, a town of 62,000 people on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic.
Under MLB’s domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy, the commissioner can place an accused player on paid administrative leave for up to seven days while an investigation is ongoing.
The Rays said in a statement Sunday night: “During today’s game, we were made aware of social media posts circulating regarding Wander Franco.”
“We are taking the situation seriously and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as part of their due diligence.”
Franco, who wears number 5 for the Rays, has not been seen publicly since the allegations broke.
DailyMail.com can reveal that he and Rachelly have yet to move into their five-bedroom, four-bathroom home in Tampa, which has 4,286 living rooms and was built in 2011. In the back there is an oval shaped swimming pool as part of the quarter acre grounds.
However, the building’s impressive colonnaded facade appears at odds with the slightly neglected driveway and vegetation. But locals say they saw contractors working on a renovation.
A neighbor said: ‘I haven’t spotted Franco there for some time. They had people working there.
“I once had to go complain about all the dust his guys created while cutting marble.”
There was no sign of contractor activity on the property as of the start of this week. Franco bought the pad for $1.55 million after it went on the market for $1.8 million in September 2022.
Marked for fame from an early age, he was just 18 when he proudly showed an ESPN interviewer a tattoo on his left arm and said, “He’s my son.” Wander Samuel Franco Jr. was nine months old at the time in June 2019.
Franco – dubbed El Patron (The Boss) by friends and “baseball’s hottest prospect” by pundits at the time – added: “It’s a big responsibility. I have to knock. The child needs a lot of milk.
He said he had not seen the child or the boy’s mother in four months due to baseball commitments, but he did not name her.
It was two years after signing a $3.825 million contract as a 16-year-old with the Rays, which saw him play in the minor leagues before making his major league debut for the team. Florida against the Boston Red Sox in June. 2021.
Four months later, he won his $182 million contract at the age of 20, becoming the youngest player in baseball history to sign a contract worth more than $100 million. . And the Rays can exercise a team option that could bring the deal up to $223 million.
Franco comes from a family steeped in baseball history – and dropped out of school after sixth grade so he could train to be a professional player.
Mom Nancy’s brothers, Erick and Willy Aybar, both played in MLB — along with shortstop Erick for the Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres. Infielder Willy played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Nephew Wander’s team in Tampa Bay.
His father, also called Wander, played in the minor leagues, as did Wander brothers Javier Franco, 28, and Wander Alexander Franco, 26.