The All-Star Game is just around the corner, and some of the best players on the planet will take to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. Two days before that, though, some of the best prospects in the world will take to that same field on July 12 in the 2015 Futures Game.
The game has produced a plethora of young talent, and recent MVPs of the Futures Game include Jose Reyes (2002), Aaron Hill (2004), Nick Castellanos (2012) and Joey Gallo (2014), per MLB.com.
Those are just the MVPs, though. Consider the players below who suited up for the USA and World teams in last year's game, along with their Baseball America prospect rankings for this season.
|2014 Futures Game Rosters (BA Prospect Ranking)|
|Lucas Giolito, Washington Nationals (7)||Jose Berrios, Minnesota Twins (36)|
|Hunter Harvey, Baltimore Orioles (68)||Luis Severino, New York Yankees (35)|
|Daniel Norris, Toronto Blue Jays (18)||Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers (10)|
|Robert Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds (23)||Jorge Alfaro, Texas Rangers (67)|
|Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets (11)||Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies (56)|
|Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (1)||Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (9)|
|Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers (6)||Jose Peraza, Atlanta Braves (54)|
|Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (5)||Dalton Pompey, Toronto Blue Jays (30)|
|J.P. Crawford, Philadelphia Phillies (14)||--|
|Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates (64)||--|
|Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals (32)||--|
|Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds (47)||--|
|MLB.com; Baseball America|
A proverbial who's who of top 100 prospects, the Futures Game is always an exciting event, and this year, the New York Yankees will send two representatives to the game: outfielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez.
These two will be up with the Yankees soon enough, so ahead of Sunday's game, here are full scouting reports on two of the club's top prospects.
|Aaron Judge (20-80 Scouting Scale)|
Judge isn't the best prospect in the Yankees system, but he's a worthy No. 2. The 23-year-old outfielder has plus raw power, and his game power—though rated at 20 by FanGraphs—is progressing by the minute.
Over 236 minor league games—including Arizona Fall League games—Judge has belted 34 home runs, good for a 162-game average of 23.3. Judge's power should continue to progress as both his body and approach continue to mature.
That said, it's worth noting that the Fresno State University product has seen his plate discipline challenged consistently as he moves up the ranks. Since being drafted last year, Judge is the owner of a 23.3 percent strikeout rate; it was 25 percent during his time at Double-A Trenton earlier this year.
Now, since moving up to Scranton, Judge's strikeout rate has leveled off a little, settling in at 21 percent over a small sample of 81 plate appearances.
Judge has been successful, however, in drawing walks, and he could fall into that Three True Outcomes mold that we've seen more and more in young players—e.g., Joc Pederson. Over 563 plate appearances last year, Judge walked at a steady 15.2 percent rate, and he's continued drawing walks at a 9.7 percent clip in 2015.
Whether Judge can cut back on his strikeouts remains to be seen, but his ability in the outfield is less of a question. Judge runs well enough to be a corner outfielder at the big league level. The California native figures to lose some speed as he continues to fill out, but that shouldn't force him out of the outfield.
In his prime, Judge figures to be a 25-plus home run hitter with below-average speed. His bat is a bit more of a question mark, but he shouldn't have a problem hitting for a .250-plus average.
Overall, Judge should make for a first-division outfielder on a competitive team.
|Gary Sanchez (20-80 Scouting Scale)|
An oft-forgotten prospect in the Yankees system, Sanchez has the tools to be a top-tier catcher on a competitive roster.
Sanchez has a rocket for an arm, though he sometimes appears lackadaisical behind the plate and led the Eastern League in errors and passed balls last year, per Baseball America. Sanchez's arm is the only thing keeping him behind the plate at this point, but if he's able to keep his focus and cut down on his defensive lapses, the 22-year-old has the chance to be an above-average option behind the dish.
Sanchez's offensive game is much more polished. Though his strikeout rate has hovered around 21 percent for his career, it's taken a bit of a dip through 241 plate appearances in 2015, finally dropping below the 20 percent mark—19.5 percent in 2015.
Over 2,240 plate appearances, Sanchez owns a walk rate of 8.2 percent and has a decent feel for the strike zone, as evidenced by a career .273 batting average. That said, according to MLB.com, Sanchez "can lapse into an all-or-nothing approach at the plate at times, but he has enough offensive upside to profile as an everyday player if he has to move to first base."
Sanchez's calling card is his plus raw power. The young backstop has quick wrists and a strong lower half, and he is capable of generating above-average bat speed. To date, Sanchez has popped 83 homers in 527 games played, good for a 25 homer-per-year average.
At the big league level, Sanchez figures to be more of a 15-20 home run hitter, with the potential for 20-25 if he figures out how to limit his swings and misses.
The question for Sanchez's future as a catcher is whether or not he's able to figure things out behind the plate. Take the following excerpt from Baseball America's prospect handbook.
"He's still working to become more adept as a receiver and a blocker—he led the Eastern League with 17 errors and passed balls—and some scouts felt he struggled to establish a proper rapport with his staff," Baseball America noted. "He also was benched for five games for issues away from the field."
Sanchez needs to get his act together, but if and when he does, he has the potential to click in a big way.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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