One of the most anticipated events each season for those of us that specialize in the minor leagues is the Futures Game. Each year, MLB hosts the Futures Game on the Sunday before the All-Star game, and brings together some of the top talent in the minor leagues, splits them into a US-vs.-World format based (loosely) on their home country, and essentially is a hyped up version of a minor league all-star game.
Roster construction on this has more controls on it than first imagined, but still allows for a large number of the top prospects in the minors to appear. Players can come from nearly any level in the minors, although generally the amount of prospects coming from Low-A or short season ball tends to be limited. Each team is represented on at least one of the two rosters, and no team has more than two players on both rosters combined. In addition, each organization has the final say on whether to allow specific prospects to participate, so the organization can keep their top prospect from going if they feel there is a good enough reason.
Every year, these rosters seem to get stronger and stronger, as it can potentially be a place to show how a prospect has developed, and how they can fare against older and higher level competition. We saw AA third baseman Nick Castellanos take the MVP award back in 2012, and AAA third baseman Matt Davidson do the same in 2013. With that, let's take a look at the rosters and discuss a few of the newer names.
World Catchers: Christian Bethancourt, Jorge Alfaro
United States Catchers: Kevin Plawecki, Justin O'Conner
- We've been hearing about Bethancourt for a few years now, although the more interesting prospect for our purposes remains Alfaro. for fantasy purposes.
- Plawecki has been having a great year, hitting .326 with a .487 slugging percentage at AA Binghamton, and could end up pushing Travis d'Arnaud in a couple seasons.
- Austin Hedges appeared in the game last year, but it appears that the Padres' backstop of the future is not participating this go around.
World Infielders: Carlos Correa (SS), Jose Peraza (2B), Rosell Herrera (3B), Javier Baez (SS), Francisco Lindor (SS), Maikel Franco (1B/3B), Renato Nunez (3B), Kennys Vargas (1B), Orlando Arcia (2B)
United States Infielders: Mookie Betts (2B/OF), Kris Bryant (3B), J.P. Crawford (SS) , D.J. Peterson (1B/3B), Joey Gallo (3B), Micah Johnson (2B), Corey Seager (SS), Peter O'Brien (1B)
- Power. So much Power. You have the minor league leaders in home runs in Bryant, Gallo, and O'Brien all on the same infield. You have some of last year's leaders in Baez and Franco on the World roster. If wishing made it so, the batting practice for the game would be televised also, but instead we'll just have to rely on the Twitter reports from other writers and scouts that will be there in person.
- D.J. Peterson and J.P. Crawford were just promoted to AA and High-A, respectively, and are both players that should move up quite a bit on offseason top prospect lists.
- Mookie Betts has been transitioning to the outfield in the hope of finding a place for his bat in the majors, so he could be in either position during this game potentially.
- It's too bad that Correa got hurt, but it's not like the World infield will be hurting for other shortstops with two of the top shortstop prospects coming in Baez and Lindor as well.
- The outfields this year seem like a bit of a downgrade from previous years, with top prospects like Byron Buxton hurt and Oscar Taveras absent from the game this year. That said, this group isn't exactly a bunch of slouches, either.
- Hunter Renfroe and Jesse Winker were both promoted to AA in the past week as well.
- Two definite helium candidates are Dalton Pompey and Gabby Guerrero, both of whom are having excellent seasons this year and were outside the top 100 on nearly every list out there coming into the season.
World Pitching Staff: Julio Urias, Jorge Lopez, Domingo German, Jose Berrios, Luis Severino, Edwin Escobar, Tayron Guerrero, Enny Romero, Alfonso Alcantara, Francellis Montas
United States Pitching Staff: Braden Shipley, Hunter Harvey, Henry Owens, Robert Stephenson, Jake Thompson, Christian Binford, Noah Syndergaard, Marco Gonzales, Lucas Giolito, Daniel Norris
- We're probably going to get another prospect if Marco Gonzales is still in the majors as the game approaches, since he's starting for the Cardinals on Wednesday. Others who could still potentially be called up before the game include Noah Syndergaard and Enny Romero.
- We have three of the top low-level prospects in the minors on these rosters with Giolito, Harvey, and Urias all currently heading to Minnesota.
- I'm really interested to see Braden Shipley pitch in this game, as he has already reached High-A and could move quickly the rest of the year potentially.
- Tayron Guerrero is a reliever in the Padres' system, but has been lights out so far this year (44K, 14BB in 37 IP) and seems like another potential fast mover.