The MLB Futures Game may not receive as much hype as the Home Run Derby or the actual MLB All-Star Game, but it is often the most exciting event of All-Star weekend, as most of the top prospects in baseball converge on one field and display their wide array of skills.
Many players who will take part in the All-Star Game this year competed in the Futures Game once upon a time, so this year's Futures Game will almost certainly involve the stars of tomorrow.
That isn't to say that every player involved in the Futures Game will have a great MLB career, but they are definitely on the right track, and the Futures Game could help them reach the next level.
Stars like Alfonso Soriano, Jose Reyes and Billy Butler have been named the Futures Game's Most Valuable Player in the past, so it will be interesting to see who wins the Larry Doby Award as the contest's MVP this year. Here are three players with the best chance to do so.
Outfielder Byron Buxton was viewed as a project when the Minnesota Twins selected him with the No. 2 overall pick last year, but he has managed to develop more quickly than anyone could have imagined.
He is currently playing in Advanced A, but it isn't inconceivable to think that he could earn a late-season call-up to the major leagues if he continues at this torrid pace.
Buxton's numbers are eye-popping this year, as he is hitting .333 with nine home runs, 63 RBI and 35 stolen bases. Buxton can do a little bit of everything, and that bodes well for his MVP chances.
His power is still developing to some degree as he is growing into his 6'2" frame, but he is a run-producer, and he has elite speed—which could allow him to fill up the box score on Sunday.
Buxton will be given every opportunity to get in plenty of at-bats, as he is likely Team USA's best player and arguably the best player in the entire game. As long as he continues to swing the bat like he has all season long, Buxton is unquestionably the front-runner for the Larry Doby Award.
Which player is most likely to be named MVP of the Futures Game?
Billy Hamilton is one of the most intriguing prospects in all of baseball. The 22-year-old Cincinnati Reds up-and-comer has played center field, shortstop and second base in the minors, but the true draw is his incredible speed.
Hamilton has essentially been the Rickey Henderson of the minor leagues over the past couple years, as his steals numbers are ridiculous.
Hamilton has struggled a bit to get on base this season with a .243 batting average, but he already has 52 stolen bases and has even upped his power numbers a bit with five home runs and 29 RBI.
He really opened some eyes last year as he swiped a total of 155 bags across A and AA ball to go along with a .311 average and .400 on-base percentage.
The going has gotten a bit tougher in AAA, but he is still one of the premier base stealers in the world. It takes a little more than that to be successful at the MLB level; however, Hamilton has had success in the minors and is still an extremely promising prospect.
It won't be easy for Hamilton to be named Futures Game MVP since he isn't going to hit home runs in all likelihood, but if he can get on base, he could potentially put up five or six steals like nothing.
Delino DeShields carved out a solid 13-year MLB career for himself as he played all over the field and was a fantastic base stealer.
His son and namesake is hoping to soon embark on an MLB career of his own, but it seems as though he is destined to be a superstar rather than a utility man.
The 20-year-old DeShields was drafted No. 8 overall by the Houston Astros three years ago, and he is already making waves in the minors.
DeShields did a little bit of everything last year as he hit .287 with 12 home runs, 61 RBI and 101 steals.
His power numbers are down this year with just two homers and 30 RBI, but he has managed a .290 batting average to go along with 30 stolen bases in High A. Much like Hamilton, DeShields is a guy who can steal the show with his legs.
He does have some pop, though, so it wouldn't necessarily be a surprise to see him go yard at cavernous Citi Field.
He's still probably a year or two away from the majors, but the Houston Astros don't exactly have a ton of talent, so he could be accelerated through the system. DeShields knows that the Astros brass will be watching on Sunday, so look for him to put forth a great effort.
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