I attended the Futures Game yesterday. It was an exciting, fun, and very hot day at Citi Field. It's fitting that this game is played during all-star weekend because many of the players from the game have a good chance at being MLB all-stars themselves one day. The game is all in good fun and some of the entertainment around the game was enjoyable as well including the Celebrity/Legends softball game and the San Francisco Giants mascot, Lou Seal, coming out with a Championship Belt on his shoulder. There were probably about 10-14 mascots at the game in total. Anyway, on to the more important stuff. Here is my analysis and observations on the performance of the top prospects in the game during the USA's 4-2 win over the World Team:
(A very special Thank You to one of my best friends, James Zaczyk, for attending the game with me and helping out with various items including observations throughout the game.)
(Check out my fanalytical evaluation of each Futures Game prospect here.)
(Check out the discussion thread from Minor League Ball here.)
Noah Syndergaard's FB was hitting 95-96 consistently and his CB looked pretty good at 78-79 with a sweeping action.
Xander Bogaerts started out 0-2 against Syndergaard but hung in there, shortened up his stroke, and after foulding a pitch off was able to hit single up the middle. Bogaerts foolishly tried to steal second base off of one of the best defensive catchers in the minors, Austin Hedges, and was predictably thrown out.
The first thing I noticed about Rafael Montero is his size. He's listed at 6'0" 170 lbs but I think he could be more like 5'11". In any case, following the 6'6" 240 lb Noah Syndergaard it was quite a transition for my eyes. Montero was throwing 94-95 with his heat and had an 82 MPH SL. He pitched a perfect inning and did nothing to change my opinion of him as one of the most underrated SP prospects in the game today. I am glad he got to start the game but that was probably solely due to him being a hometown prospect.
Billy Hamilton hit a line drive to left field and when the ball was caught I noticed that Hamilton was already rounding 1st Base. His speed is incredible and I'm pretty sure that if the ball was hit into the gap that was going to easily be a triple. George Springer didn't get a hit off of Montero but he crushed a long foul ball.
Taijuan Walker was hitting 93-95 with his FB and had a solid outing.
Xander Bogaerts looked solid at short on a couple groundballs early in the game. Delino DeShields looked good at second base early on as well.
Jordan Lennerton's stance was surprising to me. He is incredible relax before the pitch with very little weight on his right (front) foot. He is a left-handed hitter and when the pitch is coming he goes from standing upright into a stride. He was able to foul off a nasty pitch from Walker and ended up taking a walk.
I was intrigued to see Enny Romero since his stuff is so good but his underlying statistics and K:BB have been questionable. He was hitting 94-97 with his FB, 84 with his SL, and 81 with his CB.
Joc Pederson has a really smooth swing and despite hitting just .202 against LHP at AAA was able to hit a single off Romero and come around to score on a double by Christian Yelich. Pederson and Romero was an interesting matchup because left-handed hitter hit Romero much better than right-handed hitters but Pederson (a left-handed hitter) struggles so much against LHP. On the double by Yelich I noticed that Hamilton hesitated a bit and took a questionable path to the ball. He didn't track it well.
Archie Bradley looked impressive with a 95-96 FB and 80-82 CB. He fielder a ground from A.J. Jimenez well. Addison Russell aggressively charged a grounder from Reymond Fuentes and made a nice throw to C.J. Cron to get the out.
Andre Rienzo pitched well with a 90-91 FB, 87-88 SL, and 76 CB. He struck out Billy Hamilton on a SL that Hamilton tried to hold up on.
Anthony Ranaudo displayed some command issues in trying to tame is 92-94 FB, 82-85 CH, and 79-80 CB. Arismendy Alcantara took a Ranaudo FB and placed it in the seats to the shortest part of the ballpark down the right-field line. Bogaerts again shortened up his swing and stroked a single to CF. Ranaudo walked Miguel Sano with a 93 MPH FB. Bogaerts was later able to tag up from 3rd base and score despite a strong throw from Joc Pederson in left-field. Gregory Polanco also drew a walk off Ranaudo.
Michael Ynoa displayed strong velocity with a 94-95 FB and 80-82 CB but he needs to learn how to be a pitcher. Ynoa must really work on his command. Davidson homered off an 88 MPH CH from Ynoa. The ball was hit past the 385 FT sign in left-center. Ynoa seemed rattled after the HR and immediately threw 4 balls to Joc Pederson to put him on 1st base. Just watching him pitch made me think he was very uncomfortable. I don't really like Ynoa's mechanics, he really drags his back foot and he has a little hop in his step from the stretch. Yelich hit a line-drive base-hit to CF off of a 94 MPH FB.
Rafael De Paula's FB looked devastating at 94-96 MPH. His CH was around 82 and his CB at 80. He has a hitch in his windup but it shouldn't be a problem for him. After hitting Springer with a pitch he threw a 92 MPH FB out of the stretch, noticeable lower velocity from him. Delino DeShields couldn't turn a double play on a Cron ground-out with a weak off-line throw to 1st.
Eddie Butler has a dominant 95-98-FB which goes great with his 87-89 SL. He hit Miguel Sano with a 89 MPH SL. Could he be the Rockies closer of the future?
Eduardo Rodriguez threw a 93 MPH FB with an 86 CH and 82 SL.
Jimmy Nelson touched 96 with his FB with a 84 SL. Rodriguez looks like a back-end SP to me while Nelson looks like a bullpen arm.
Miguel Almonte pitched really well. His FB was in the 93-94 range while his CH and SL were both around 86. His 76-77 CB looked nasty with plenty of movement on it.
I noticed that Byron Buxton has an extremely wide stance at the plate. He went 0-2 with 2 K in the game and I was hoping to see more from him but it's just one game.
C.J. Riefenhauser threw a 90-92 FB with a 77 CB. From the plate you can't see the ball until the last split second and because of his over-the-top motion there is a downward plane on his FB.
Carlos Contreras pitched in the 89-95 range with his FB. He made Christian Walker look foolish on a 80 MPH CB and then came back and blew it by him with 95 MPH heat. Contreras probably has a future in a major league bullpen. Garin Cecchini stroked a smooth double to RF off of Contreras.
Yordano Ventura only threw 1 pitch, a 99 MPH FB, to get one out in bailing out Carlos Contreras.
Kyle Crick was consistently hitting 95 with his FB with spotty control. He threw almost all FB and still walked two batters. He also struggled with command in his last minor league start so he definitely has some mechanical issues to work on right now.
AJ Cole impressed me with a 93-97 FB complimented by an 82 MPH CH. That's a great difference in velocity between those pitches. He struck out Ji-Man Choi on a 96 MPH FB.
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