All-Star Futures Game Observations

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The Midsummer Classic is a must-see for any true baseball fan, but truth be told there is another game which takes place two days prior that is even better. The All-Star Futures game showcases the best minor league talent across all organizations. It gives us, the hardcore fans, a chance to see elite talents that we don't normally get to watch in game action on a regular basis.

The best part is that it is the first time most of these players have a chance to flash their talents in a Major League ballpark against top-notch competition. Some names are familiar to those who don't follow prospects too closely (Yoan Moncada, Lewis Brinson, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.), but many of these players are yet to become household names.

As a Miami native, I was lucky enough to catch the game in person and take some notes alongside the Major League scouts who surrounded me in the lower section (no kidding). As great as modern-day television broadcasts are, it goes without saying that there are certain observations you can make in person that just don't come across through the TV screen. Plus, it didn't hurt that I sneaked some peeks at the notes from the scouts around me...

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Futures Game Notes and Observations

  • Tampa Bay's Brent Honeywell was the first player to make an impression and that's the reason he took MVP honors with just two innings pitched. Honeywell showed off his trademark screwball, but his fastball was just as sharp. He started the first inning by catching Alex Verdugo and Amed Rosario looking on off-speed pitches in back-to-back at-bats. In the following frame, he got Vlad Jr. to chase a ball outside the zone and finished with four K among the six outs he recorded. Honeywell wasn't great in Triple-A early this year, posting a 4.54 ERA and allowing 92 hits in 79 1/3 innings. He looks like the real deal, however, and could be in store for an August call-up after his impressive showing tonight.
  • Michael Kopech only pitched one inning, but he was every bit as dominant as Honeywell. He struck out one of the three batters he faced, but didn't allow a hit. He touched 99 MPH a couple of times and struck out last year's Futures Game MVP Yoan Moncada on a fastball that cracked 100 on the radar gun. His two other outs came on hard contact, but they were on the ground and stayed in the infield. As a White Sox prospect, there's a great chance he'll see a cup of coffee this season. His long-term value appears to be surpassing fellow pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.
  • Dodgers pitcher Yadier Alvarez got the start for the World team and took the hard-luck loss in one inning of work. It wasn't an especially sharp outing, mind you. Alvarez threw hard and showed good life on his fastball, but was a bit all over the zone, barely throwing half his pitches for strikes. He's only in Advanced A ball, so it'll be a while before he's ready for the bigs anyway.
  • Canadian Cal Quantrill was even less impressive, giving up hard contact in the form of a double, triple, and deep sacrifice fly to center field from the first three batters he faced. He's known for effectively mixing in his changeup, but he seemed to lean on it too much too soon in this appearance and left his offerings right over the plate. He's also a year or two away from joining the Padres, so don't read too much into this outing. Quantrill, who was the team's first round pick last year, will be brought along slowly as he is working back from Tommy John two years ago.
  • Lewis Brinson would be in the Brewers outfield on Sunday if he'd made more of an impression in his June trial, but three hits in 31 Major League at-bats earned him a quick demotion. He was one of the few players to stay in all game, likely because he hails from Ft. Lauderdale just miles away from Miami. His plate discipline looked shaky early, as he chased a bad pitch to strike out swinging, but he later drew a walk and then hit an RBI double and scored. He's got the tools, but he appeared a bit loose at the plate and may need more time to hone his skills.
  • Brendan Rodgers is the embodiment of what you would refer to as a "gamer." He isn't physically imposing, nor does he excel with any one tool, but he showed great bat speed (fourth-highest swing speed among all players) and made the best defensive play of the game by back-handing a sharp liner hit directly at him. He's only played 14 games at the Double-A level and won't be rushed to a Rockies team with no openings in the infield at the moment. Still, the third overall pick of 2015 looks to be a facsimile of Dansby Swanson with less speed, but better defense.
  • Yankees pitcher Domingo Acevedo should have taken the loss in this one, as he was hit hardest and ultimately proved to be the one who cost the World team a victory. The 6'7" right-hander was trying to blow by hitters, but it simply didn't work. He was lit up for three runs on four hits in one inning of work. Four straight batters hit blistering line drives off Acevedo for hits and even the fly outs were hit hard. It may not be the best comp, but I couldn't help getting flashbacks of Michael Pineda last year.
  • Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher weren't the only Astros players represented in the Futures game, which just proves how good of a position the franchise is in. Tucker hit an opposite field double in his first plate appearance, but later stranded three runners. Fisher also hit a double, driving in two runners. It's hard to see where they would fit on a roster filled with players having great seasons, but it might just be a matter of waiting for Josh Reddick to get hurt again before Fisher gets called back up. Otherwise, it might not be until roster expansion that Fisher is worth adding this season.
  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was able to step to the plate four times and delivered two hits and two runs. He doesn't profile at all like his father, with a shorter reach. He does show more bat control, however, and did nothing to suppress the excitement over his eventual MLB debut.
  • Phillies prospect Rhys Hoskins at one point had three of the top five bat speed swings of the game. He didn't go deep, but it's worth noting nonetheless. Regardless of how friendly his minor league hitting environment may be, Hoskins figures to have big time power potential that should overtake Tommy Joseph.
  • Josh Naylor should have been playing for a home crowd, but the Marlins dealt him for essentially nothing last season and have to now watch him develop for San Diego instead. He looks and moves like a slightly smaller Prince Fielder. The baserunning blunder didn't do much to show differently either. There is some developing to do here, but watch his development once he gets to Double-A to see if he can harness that big swing into more long balls.
  • The Marlins' own Brian Anderson went 2-for-4 with a double and run scored. Although he pulled the ball each time, he clearly didn't press at the plate and took what was given to him. This may be one of the players to make the soonest contributions on the Major League level if the team winds up dealing Martin Prado, as has been rumored. He's only batting .259 across his minor league career and doesn't have huge power potential, but NL-only league owners could find some use for him.
  • Thyago Vieira only recorded two outs, while walking one and allowing a hit. It was his velocity that drew my attention, and that of the scouts. Like Kopech, he broke 100 on the gun multiple times. If he continues to harness his control, the Mariners could have another late-inning option for the 2018 season.
  • Florida Gator alum A.J. Puk wasn't the top overall pick last year as some projected, but at the sixth spot much is still expected of him in Oakland. He nearly let the World team stage a last-minute comeback, but stopped the bleeding by inducing a grounder to close things out. His lankiness stood out, as his delivery looked a bit long and anything but smooth. He didn't fool anyone in the ninth inning, but there is great K upside down the road here.

 

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