2012 Futures Game MVP Nick Castellanos
The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will never generate as much excitement as the All-Star Game, but it absolutely should.
Each year the event gives fans a preview of the sport’s top prospects, as 25 players are selected to play for the U.S. and World Team, respectively.
In 2012, the U.S. clobbered the World Team, 17-5, thanks to a relentless, 17-hit attack and a host of strong performances by baseball’s top pitching prospects. Last year’s game also served as the Nick Castellanos' coming out party, as the then 20-year-old—who had been recently promoted to Double-A—went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, a home run and three RBI, and was named MVP of the event.
Even though the 2013 Futures Game is over a month away, I thought I’d take a crack at predicting this year’s 25-man rosters for both the U.S. and World Team. Since only minor leaguers are eligible to participate in the game, I decided to omit prospects likely to reach major leagues between now and then such as Zack Wheeler, Wil Myers and Castellanos.
Here’s a look at the prospects deserving of a spot in this year’s game.
RHP Jameson Taillon
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2013 Stats (AA): 66.2 IP, 3.11 ERA, .245 BAA, 71/27 K/BB (12 GS)
Taillon is a lock to be selected to his second consecutive Futures Game, as the 21-year-old right-hander is putting up impressive numbers in his first full season in Double-A.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats (AA): 71.1 IP, 2.52 ERA, .194 BAA, 77/29 K/BB (12 GS)
After an up-and-down 2012 campaign as a 19-year-old in Double-A, Walker has been dominant this year while repeating the level, and it wouldn't surprise me if gets a cup of coffee before the end of the season.
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Stats (A+/AA): 75.2 IP, 1.31 ERA, .203 BAA, 90/34 K/BB (13 GS)
Bradley has quickly emerged as one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues thanks to vastly improved command and more consistency in repeating his delivery.
Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats (A+): 68.1 IP, 2.24 ERA, .250 BAA, 43/13 K/BB (13 GS)
In his first season with the Marlins, Nicolino’s pitchability has continued to improve despite moving up to a more advanced level.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
2013 Stats (AA): 68.1 IP, 3.03 ERA, .176 BAA, 79/33 K/BB (12 GS)
The Phillies’ top pitching prospect, Biddle, a 6’4” left-hander, has excelled in his first taste of Double-A this season and is missing bats at a career-high rate.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 77.2 IP, 2.78 ERA, .241 BAA, 84/24 K/BB (14 GS)
The lone Brewers’ representative on the U.S. roster, Nelson’s improved fastball velocity and more consistent secondary offerings have already led to an early-season promotion to Triple-A Nashville.
Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
2013 Stats (A+): 63.2 IP, 3.11 ERA, .255 BAA, 64/16 K/BB (12 GS)
The 6’6” right-hander has been challenged at times in the Florida State League, but has also demonstrated improved command of his fastball and sharp breaking ball.
Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats (AA): 65.1 IP, 2.62 ERA, .238 BAA, 57/18 K/BB (13 G/12 GS)
Lee, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, has made impressive strides this season in his second tour of Double-A Chattanooga. The right-hander's not going to develop into the ace that the organization envisioned when they selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft, but should have no problem reaching his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
2013 Stats (A+): 42.2 IP, 3.16 ERA, .166 BAA, 37/16 K/BB (9 GS)
Sanchez’s pure stuff warrants a spot on the U.S. roster, but his recent trip to the disabled list, as well as the Blue Jays’ desire to control his workload, may keep him off the team.
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 64.1 IP, 2.38 ERA, .218 BAA, 67/32 K/BB (16 G/10 GS)
Boasting an elite fastball and raw secondary pitches that flash plus potential, Foltynewicz has quietly emerged as the Astros’ top pitching prospect.
RHP Rafael Montero
Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 73.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, .202 BAA, 77/11 K/BB (12 GS)
After excelling at both Class-A levels last year, Montero has made a seamless transition to Double-A this season thanks to outstanding command of a four-pitch mix.
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): 67.1 IP, 2.81 ERA, .198 BAA, 85/26 K/BB (13 GS)
The starting pitcher for the World Team in the 2012 XM Futures Game, Ventura, a 5’11” right-hander, still boasts the upper-90s fastball that he showcased in last year’s event, but has since developed into a more complete pitcher with two legitimate secondary options.
Jose Ramirez, RHP, New York Yankees
2013 Stats (AA): 42.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, .192 BAA, 50/15 K/BB (9 G/8 GS)
After struggling to harness his control and command during three years between both Class-A levels, Ramirez’s vastly improved command has helped the right-hander turn the corner in his first season in Double-A.
Rafael De Paula, RHP, New York Yankees
2013 Stats (A-): 64.1 IP, 2.94 ERA, .189 BAA, 96/23 K/BB (13 GS)
De Paula, 22, has been absolutely dominant in his stateside debut this season for Low-A Charleston. The 6’2”, 212-pound right-hander boasts three average or better offerings including an explosive fastball that reaches the upper 90s.
J.O. Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
2013 Stats (A-): 48.1 IP, 3.17 ERA, .263 BAA, 56/16 K/BB (9 GS)
Coming off an impressive showing for Team Puerto Rice in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the 19-year-old has displayed pitchability and poise beyond his years this season for Low-A Cedar Rapids.
Ariel Pena, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
2013 Stats (AA): 66 IP, 3.00 ERA, .204 BAA, 63/40 K/BB (13 GS)
After struggling at Double-A during the second half of the 2012 season, Pena’s lack of control has been exploited this year while repeating the level.
Domingo Tapia, RHP, New York Mets
2013 Stats (A+): 43.2 IP, 3.30 ERA, .213 BAA, 37/20 K/BB (10 GS)
A wiry-thin right-hander at 6’4”, 186 pounds, Tapia will run his fastball into the triple digits while flashing a changeup with at least above-average potential. However, the development of a legitimate third pitch will ultimately determine whether he remains a starter.
Miguel Almonte, RHP, Kansas City Royals
2013 Stats (A-): 56.1 IP, 3.83 ERA, .246 BAA, 53/21 K/BB (11 GS)
Almonte is one of the more intriguing pitching prospects in Low-A this year thanks to a projectable, 6’2”, 180-pound frame, ridiculous arm speed and feel for commanding three pitches.
Jose Urena, RHP, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats (A+): 66.2 IP, 4.05 ERA, .246 BAA, 47/12 K/BB (13 G/12 GS)
A 6’3”, 172-pound right-hander, Urena has big-time arm strength with a fastball that reaches the upper 90s, but lacks consistent secondary offerings. And even though his command needs considerable refinement, the 21-year-old has demonstrated a legitimate feel for the strike zone.
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
2013 Stats (A+): 75.1 IP, 2.99 ERA, .252 BAA, 61/21 K/BB (12 GS)
Rodriguez emerged as the best left-handed pitcher in the Orioles system in 2012 during an impressive full-season debut at Low-A Delmarva. The 20-year-old has built upon his success this season in the Carolina League (High-A), and is on pace to finish the year at Double-A Bowie.
C Austin Hedges
Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres
2013 Stats (A+): .280/.375/.450, 13 XBH, 17/15 K/BB (30 G)
Regarded as the best defensive catcher in the minor leagues, Hedges’ bat has continued to develop ahead of schedule and has his prospect stock on the rise.
Andrew Susac, San Francisco Giants
2013 Stats (AA): .271/.384/.475, 22 XBH (7 HR), 47/30 K/BB (56 G)
A second-round pick of the Giants in 2011, Susac struggled at times during his professional debut last year in High-A, but has improved in all facets of the game this season at a more advanced level.
C Gary Sanchez
Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
2013 Stats (A+): .276/.340/.488, 26 XBH (10 HR), 40/19 K/BB (55 G)
Although Sanchez’s defense behind the plate has improved since the start of the 2012 season, he isn’t a lock to remain behind the plate. That being said, the 20-year-old’s right-handed bat is good enough to get him to the major leagues, as he projects to hit for a respectable average and above-average power at the next level.
Jorge Alfaro, Texas Rangers
2013 Stats (A-): .252/.329/.455, 24 XBH (10 HR), 6 SB, 66/14 K/BB (61 G)
Alfaro, 20, may be raw and without a game of experience above Low-A, but he arguably possesses the most exciting blend of athleticism and tools among all catching prospects.
SS Chris Owings
Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Stats (AAA): .346/.361/.459, 101 H, 21 XBH (5 HR), 11 SB, 56/6 K/BB (66 G)
Owings plate discipline leaves something to be desired as he only coaxes a few walks each month, but his aggressive, excellent bat-to-ball ability and above-average defense at shortstop has resulted in a quick ascent through the Diamondbacks system.
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
2013 Stats (A+): .351/.468/.541, 25 XBH (5 HR), 15 SB, 33/40 K/BB (60 G)
Cecchini’s potential plus hit tool and advanced plate discipline have made him one of the top hitters in the minors this season.
Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
2013 Stats (A+): .234/.324/.435, 27 XBH (6 HR), 7 SB, 61/27 K/BB (52 G)
Even though he got off to a slow start this season, Russell’s combination of athleticism, tools and secondary skills give him one of the highest ceilings in the game among all position prospects.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
2013 Stats (A-/AA): .260/.356/.560, 8 XBH (3 HR), 18/8 K/BB (14 G)
Singleton missed the first 50 games of the season while serving a suspension, but still represents the top first-base prospect in the minor leagues.
*Starting first baseman
Brad Miller, SS/3B, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats (AA/AAA): .313/.393/.491, 20 XBH (9 HR), 5 SB, 43/30 K/BB (59 G)
While his defensive profile on the left side of the infield is questionable, the left-handed hitter’s bat is legitimate.
Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats (AAA): .319/.354/.479, 23 XBH (5 HR), 9 SB, 34/14 K/BB (58 G)
A participant in the 2012 XM Futures Game, Wong, a left-handed hitter, has continued his ascent of the Cardinals system and is enjoying an all-around solid season at Triple-A Memphis.
*Starting second baseman
Corey Seager, SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats (A-): .282/.349/.450, 11 XBH (4 HR), 7 SB, 31/12 K/BB (36 G)
Seager is a wild card to make the U.S. roster, as he’s only 19 and in the midst of his full-season debut. However, the left-handed hitter’s bat is good enough to warrant an invitation.
Matt Davidson, 3B/1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
2013 Stats (AAA): .311/.364/.519, 30 XBH (9 HR), 71/22 K/BB (62 G)
The 22-year-old will always have too much swing-and-miss to his game, but he’s already proven to be one of the better offensive third basemen in the minor leagues.
*Starting third baseman
Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, Boston Red Sox
2013 Stats (AA): .311/.407/.502, 24 XBH (6 HR), 5 SB, 51/35 K/BB (56 G)
Of all the talented infielders on the World roster, Bogaerts is the mostly likely to become a star in the major leagues. The 20-year-old mashed at Double-A to begin the season and shown a more consistent approach, which is exactly why the Red Sox promoted him to Triple-A earlier in the week.
*Starting third baseman
Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
2013 Stats (A+): .285/.340/.557, 34 XBH (13 HR), 6 SB, 60/14 K/BB (59 G)
Javy Baez has one of the higher ceilings among all prospects thanks a lightning-quick bat and plus raw power at a premium position. However, while he flashes the potential to be an All-Star caliber hitter in the major leagues, the 20-year-old’s overall game is still immature and lacks consistency.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
2013 Stats (A+): .297/.373/.402, 19 XBH, 15 SB, 29/28 K/BB (62 G)
While Lindor’s plus-plus defense will make him a big leaguer for a long, long time, it’s the rapid development of his plate discipline and hit tool this season—especially from the left side—that may get him to Cleveland by 2014.
Alen Hanson, SS/2B, Pittsburgh Pirates
2013 Stats (A+): .278/.343/.413, 20 XBH, 15 SB, 44/22 K/BB (58 G)
One of the top breakout players of the 2012 season, Hanson, a 20-year-old switch-hitter, overcame a sluggish start and has settled in nicely at High-A Bradenton.
Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
2013 Stats (A+/AA): .325/.418/.646, 33 XBH (16 HR), 9 SB, 63/30 K/BB (58 G)
The only prospect in the minor leagues with true 80-grade power, Sano’s hit tool has developed in a big way this season in the challenging Florida State League. He and teammate Eddie Rosario were both promoted to Double-A earlier in the week.
*Starting designated hitter
Eddie Rosario, 2B, Minnesota Twins
2013 Stats (A+/AA): .332/.384/.526, 24 XBH (6 HR), 30/19 K/BB (54 G)
One of the more underrated hitters in the minor leagues, Rosario has raked at every professional level and has the chance for a plus hit tool at maturity. And considering the Twins’ weakness up the middle, the 21-year-old could be the everyday second baseman by mid-2014, if not earlier.
*Starting second baseman
Wilmer Flores, 2B, New York Mets
2013 Stats (AAA): .314/.356/.494, 30 XBH (22 2B), 29/15 K/BB (62 G)
After posting an .855 OPS in 66 Double-A games in 2012, Flores has maintained similar production this year at Triple-A Las Vegas. At his current pace, the 21-year-old should reach the major leagues during the second half of the season.
Ji-Man Choi, 1B, Seattle Mariners
2013 Stats (A+/AA): .315/.411/.600, 36 XBH (9 HR), 40/32 K/BB (55 G)
Signed out of South Korea in 2009, the left-handed hitting first baseman has hit for average and decent power at every level, and was promoted to Double-A Jackson in early June.
*Starting first baseman
OF Christian Yelich
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
2013 Stats (A-): .346/.437/.568, 30 XBH (7 HR), 26 SB, 46/39 K/BB (60 G)
The most exciting prospect in the game, Buxton has quickly emerged as a star-in-the-making behind an exceptional start to his full-season debut.
Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
2013 Stats (AAA): .251/.314/.341, 15 XBH, 40 SB, 48/24 K/BB (61 G)
Hamilton hasn’t showcased the secondary skills that he did during his record-breaking 2012 campaign, but he’s still been a menace on the base paths with 40 stolen bases in 47 attempts.
Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins
2013 Stats (AA): .262/.342/.518, 24 XBH (6 HR), 47/20 K/BB (41 G)
Yelich has battled numerous injuries this season in his first at the Double-A level, but the sweet-swinging left-handed hitter has been excellent when healthy. Expect to see him in the major leagues later this year.
George Springer, Houston Astros
2013 Stats (AA): .302/.405/.612, 36 XBH (18 HR), 18 SB, 78/36 K/BB (62 G)
One of the top power-speed prospects in the game, Springer was the first minor leaguer to amass 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases this season, and is now on the verge of becoming the first 20-20 player.
Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
2013 Stats (AA): .304/.384/.500, 26 XBH (8 HR), 18 SB, 53/29 K/BB (63 G)
The Dodgers’ minor league player of the year in 2012 after posting a .913 OPS with 26 stolen bases for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, Pederson’s prospect stock is on the rise this season thanks to a smooth transition to Double-A.
OF Oscar Taveras
Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates
2013 Stats (A+): .312/.364/.472, 23 XBH (6 HR), 24 SB, 37/16 K/BB (57 G)
Coming off a breakout campaign in 2012, Polanco solidified his status as a top-25 prospect with an excellent start this season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State. And as a result, the 21-year-old outfielder was rewarded with a promotion to Double-A earlier today.
Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Stats (AAA): .319/.353/.475, 14 XBH (10 2B), 5 SB, 20/7 K/BB (36 G)
Widely regarded as the best pure hitter in the minor leagues, Taveras has raked this season despite missing most of the last month with an ankle injury.
Jorge Soler, Chicago Cubs
2013 Stats (A+): .282/.345/.471, 22 XBH (8 HR), 5 SB, 37/21 K/BB (54 G)
Soler obviously isn’t as advanced as the sensational Yasiel Puig and may need an additional year to develop in the minor leagues. However, the 21-year-old should have a similar ceiling in his prime.
Domingo Santana, Houston Astros
2013 Stats (AA): .264/.358/.519, 28 XBH (12 HR), 7 SB, 77/25 K/BB (55 G)
Much like teammate George Springer, Santana possesses plus raw power but the strikeouts pile up in a hurry. However, that’s not unusual for a 20-year-old power hitter in Double-A.
Cesar Puello, New York Mets
2013 Stats (AA): .330/.403/.604, 26 XBH (13 HR), 17 SB, 46/14 K/BB (53 G)
After battling a host of injuries and spending the last three years between both Class-A levels, Puello has finally come into his own this season in Double-A. The 22-year-old is showcasing the power-speed potential that the Mets envisioned when they signed him in 2007.