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Bucs sweep 5 from Crew on walk-off in downpour

MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- A week ago, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington set the stage for a critical stretch heading into the All-Star break. After a brutal seven-week slump left them eight games under .500, they needed more than just an average week to maintain any hope of contending.

The Pirates responded by putting together their best week in two months, a series that was anything but average and an unforgettable first-half finale. With rain pouring down and lightning striking in the distance, Josh Bell laced a two-out double to center field in the 10th inning that sent the Pirates to a 7-6, walk-off win over the Brewers on Sunday at PNC Park.

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PITTSBURGH -- A week ago, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington set the stage for a critical stretch heading into the All-Star break. After a brutal seven-week slump left them eight games under .500, they needed more than just an average week to maintain any hope of contending.

The Pirates responded by putting together their best week in two months, a series that was anything but average and an unforgettable first-half finale. With rain pouring down and lightning striking in the distance, Josh Bell laced a two-out double to center field in the 10th inning that sent the Pirates to a 7-6, walk-off win over the Brewers on Sunday at PNC Park.

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"It was definitely a special moment," Bell said. "One that I won't forget."

The Pirates entered the All-Star break with a season-high six-game winning streak and eight victories in their final nine games. Pittsburgh got there by completing the club's first five-game sweep since September 1996 and the Majors' first five-game sweep since 2006. The Pirates are still not where they want to be, with a record of 48-49, but they have provided some reason for hope.

"It reminded us of what we did the first seven or eight weeks of the season, when we climbed to nine games over - that we can be an interesting team," Huntington said before Sunday's game. "While we've closed ground in the division, we've closed ground in the Wild Card, we've had a great week against really good teams, we need to do more and we need to continue to play this way."

It will be hard to match the way they finished the first half, though. Down by three runs, the Bucs scored once in the eighth and twice in the ninth to force extras.

Video: MIL@PIT: Freese ties game with RBI triple in the 9th

Rookie Tanner Anderson gave up a run in the 10th, but the Pirates stormed back -- fittingly enough, given the inclement weather that had pitching coach Ray Searage recounting scenes from "The Natural" in the dugout.

"A really fun way to end it," manager Clint Hurdle said, "in the pouring rain."

Gregory Polanco began the rally with a one-out single to right field. The rain intensified as Colin Moran smacked a two-out single to left field off lefty reliever Dan Jennings, putting runners on the corners for Bell.

"Sometimes when the conditions get tough, it's easier to just simplify things," Moran said. "Once the rain started pouring down, you just go, 'All right, get a good pitch to hit and try to hit one.'"

After seeing Jennings miss badly with a first-pitch slider, Bell looked for a fastball. He got one on the next pitch and ripped it to the wall, over center fielder Lorenzo Cain's head. Polanco easily scored, and third-base coach Joey Cora sent Moran home. Tyler Saladino's relay throw easily beat Moran, but the ball slipped between catcher Erik Kratz's legs and Moran slid home safely.

That set off a rain-soaked celebration that carried from the field into Pittsburgh's clubhouse.

"It was crazy," Bell said. "We've got people dancing in here and music's blaring again. There's life back in here."

Video: MIL@PIT: Bell on his 2-run walk-off double in extras

When the Pirates reconvene in Cincinnati on Friday, the industry's focus will shift even further toward the Trade Deadline. A week after Huntington said his "optimism has turned to realism," the Bucs still must balance the two. They remain 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, with a young core to build around and veterans who may be of use to contending clubs.

But if nothing else, this week proved that there is still room for optimism in Pittsburgh.

"We're playing back to the way we know how to play, the way we started the season," shortstop Jordy Mercer said. "That's what good teams do: Everybody chips in and everybody helps. We were getting back to that, and now everybody's kind of building that momentum together. That cohesiveness is really tight right now. We're having a lot of fun."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Staying alive: With a worn-down bullpen full of unavailable arms, right-hander Joe Musgrove cruised into the eighth inning with the game tied, 2-2. Musgrove loaded the bases, then, on his 106th pitch, gave up a three-run triple to Brett Phillips.

The Pirates trimmed one run off their deficit in the eighth, when Corey Dickerson -- who homered in the third inning -- doubled and scored on a single by Starling Marte. Mercer's double-play grounder with the bases loaded in the ninth brought them within a run but also within an out of losing.

Video: MIL@PIT: Moran comes home on 5-4-3 DP in the 9th

Up came pinch-hitter David Freese. The veteran infielder crushed Knebel's 1-2 fastball off the top of the right-field wall, driving in Bell to tie the game.

"What a big swing from David," Hurdle said. "He's ready. He stays in the game."

SOUND SMART
The Yankees finished the last five-game sweep in the Majors, taking five games from the Red Sox on Aug. 18-21, 2006. The Pirates last did it on Sept. 12-15, 1996, in San Francisco.

Video: MIL@PIT: Dickerson drills a 2-run homer to right

HE SAID IT
"I think we knew that going in. It was just a matter of when we were going to start playing well. Everybody goes through tough stretches throughout the course of the year. We've had ours, it seems like. Hopefully, it's behind us, and we can just continue to play well."--Mercer, on recent stretch of games

"I got thrown out the other day, so in my mind, I'm just like, 'Man, find a way to get a couple steps faster.' I don't know what happened. I couldn't see. Luckily, the throw got away, and I got in."--Moran, on scoring the winning run

UP NEXT
The Pirates will begin the second half of the season against the Reds on Friday at Great American Ball Park. Right-hander Jameson Taillon (6-7, 3.91 ERA) will take the mound for Pittsburgh after going 4-3 with a 3.29 ERA over his last nine starts. Right-hander Tyler Mahle (7-7, 4.02) will start for the Reds at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Bell

Trade Talk: Gennett, D-backs, Familia, Machado

The latest news and rumors leading up to July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline
MLB.com

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Could Reds move Gennett?
July 15: Scooter Gennett has made it known that he wants to remain with the Reds -- and based on his conversations with the front office, shared in an MLB.com exclusive, he expects to remain with the club past the Deadline -- but the two sides haven't spoken much about a contract extension, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal for FOX Sports.

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Could Reds move Gennett?
July 15: Scooter Gennett has made it known that he wants to remain with the Reds -- and based on his conversations with the front office, shared in an MLB.com exclusive, he expects to remain with the club past the Deadline -- but the two sides haven't spoken much about a contract extension, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal for FOX Sports.

Gennett -- a first-time All-Star this season -- has emerged as a surprising force in Cincinnati's lineup after being claimed off waivers from the Brewers in March 2017, batting .309/.356/.529 with 43 homers and 159 RBIs in 232 games in a Reds uniform.

Gennett is in the midst of a career year, and the Reds could look to sell high on the 28-year-old, who is under team control for one more season. Entering Sunday, the left-handed slugger led the National League at his position in batting average and OPS while ranking second in RBIs and fourth in runs and homers.

Cincinnati has infielder Nick Senzel -- the No. 4 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline -- waiting in the wings, giving the team some incentive to move Gennett, especially if it meant upgrading a pitching staff that currently ranks 13th in the NL with a 4.67 ERA. However, Senzel would be unable to provide immediate help, considering he underwent season-ending surgery in late June to repair a torn tendon in his right index finger.

D-backs seeking starting pitcher
July 15: The D-backs are in the market for a starting pitcher, according to reporter Robert Murray, recently of FanRag sports. Arizona's starting rotation, which entered Sunday ranked ninth in the National League with a 4.09 ERA, currently consists of Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley. The No. 5 slot is open for now, with Clay Buchholz (strained left oblique) and Shelby Miller (right elbow inflammation) on the disabled list.

Greinke and Corbin have provided the D-backs with an excellent one-two punch -- entering Sunday with a combined 3.14 ERA in 39 starts -- but both Godley (4.61 ERA) and Ray (5.03 ERA) have struggled in 2018 after strong '17 campaigns.

There are several viable starters likely to be available leading up to the Deadline, including the Rangers' Cole Hamels and the Blue Jays' J.A. Happ, or Arizona could choose to make a bigger splash by acquiring an ace like the Mets' Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard.

Olney: NL teams at 'forefront' of Familia trade talks
July 15: With all the talk surrounding Mets starters Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, closer Jeurys Familia has flown under the radar. But Familia remains one of the best relievers available, and ESPN's Buster Olney reports via Twitter that a number of National League teams "appear to be at the forefront" of trade discussions for the impending free agent.

Olney mentions the Phillies and Giants as two of the clubs that are interested, though he notes Philadelphia may wait until its talks with the Orioles regarding Manny Machado and Zach Britton are resolved before honing in on Familia. The Braves, Cubs and Dodgers are also among the NL contenders that could use help in the bullpen.

Tweet from @Buster_ESPN: NL teams appear to be at the forefront of the talks about the Mets' Jeurys Familia, who is among the best available relievers. Phillies interested (although they may wait until Britton/Machado talks resolved), Giants, etc.

Familia is peaking at the right time, tossing seven straight scoreless appearances with one hit allowed to open July after posting a 6.94 ERA with a 2.31 WHIP from May 23 through the end of June.

Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers leading race for Machado
July 15: MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Saturday that the Dodgers and Phillies were in the lead when it came to the pursuit of Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado, and according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman via Twitter, the Brewers "appear" to have joined them in that category.

Tweet from @JonHeyman: 5 teams still in for Machado. brewers have made ���good offer��� and appear to be in top tier with phillies and dodgers. yankees and indians also in but perhaps behind. situation fluid though.

Heyman reports that Milwaukee has made "a good offer" for Machado, while noting that the Yankees and Indians are still in the mix "but perhaps behind" in a "fluid" situation. According to the New York Post, the Yankees are unwilling to part with the organization's top 10 prospects in a deal for Machado, and are more focused on fortifying the starting rotation.

The Baltimore Sun also reports that the Dodgers, Phillies and Brewers are in the lead for Machado, noting that "the gap between those teams is currently too close to call."

MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reported Saturday that the Phillies, who had previously viewed the O's asking price as too high, were ramping up their push for Machado as they look to build their lead in the National League East.

Per Morosi, the Phillies are believed to be more willing to include right-hander Adonis Medina (Philadelphia's No. 2 prospect, No. 74 overall) than the Dodgers are to give up righty Dustin May (Los Angeles' No. 10 prospect), which could make the difference as the Orioles weigh their offers. More >

While Philadelphia could use an upgrade on the left side of the infield, and Los Angeles is without star shortstop Corey Seager for the season due to Tommy John surgery, Milwaukee's injury issues -- Ryan Braun and Eric Thames are on the disabled list -- make a lineup upgrade a priority as they continue to jockey with the Cubs for the top spot in the National League Central.

Video: O'Dowd, Nelson discuss the Manny Machado sweepstakes

All eyes on Syndergaard in his return
July 14: Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard would be the prizes of the starting pitching market if the Mets decided to trade either of their two aces. So it's no surprise that Syndergaard was being heavily scouted on his return from the disabled list Friday at Citi Field.

On hand to watch the flamethrowing right-hander were the Yankees, Mariners and Cubs, among others, according to the New York Post's Ken Davidoff. All three are contending teams that could benefit greatly from adding a frontline starter to their rotation. One scout told Davidoff that Syndergaard flashed "a pretty good power selection" on Friday night.

Syndergaard was solid, if a little rusty, in his first start since late May after missing nearly two months with a strained ligament in his right index finger. He held the Nationals to a run in five innings, and his fastball reached as high as 99.7 mph. Thor now has a 2.97 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings this season.

If teams are convinced Syndergaard can stay healthy -- he's missed significant time in each of the last two years -- his dominant stuff would make him very highly sought-after as the Deadline nears. Syndergaard is also only 25 and controllable through 2021. But those same factors might convince the Mets to hold onto Syndergaard, and any deal to land him would likely have to blow the Mets away.

In fact, some contending teams continue to think the Mets will not move their top two arms -- especially deGrom, but maybe not Syndergaard, either. In a report from the New York Post's Joel Sherman on Saturday, one executive said that the Mets "are entering this trade market with the most valuable pieces and are opting to sit on the sideline," while another said that "the way they are saying they will only move their top starters [deGrom and Syndergaard] for a truckload is just another way of saying they are not trading them."

Could Yankees, Tigers come together on Fulmer?
July 14: The Yankees are in the market for a starting pitcher, and the Tigers have one of the better options available in Michael Fulmer. But will the two clubs be able to come together to strike a deal?

According to a report from The Athletic's Marc Carig on Friday, the Tigers' asking price for Fulmer has been high -- the right-hander is just 25 and controllable through 2022 -- and the Yankees haven't done anything more than inquire about his availability.

Tweet from @MarcCarig: Michael Fulmer���s name has been a fixture here during kick the tires szn. But thus far, the Yankees haven���t done anything beyond inquire with Tigers. The price is high, as one would expect for all that team control.

But they have at least been keeping their eye on Fulmer, and the Tigers have been doing the same with the Yankees. Detroit had a scout at Progressive Field for Thursday night's Yankees-Indians game, as the New York Post's George A. King III reported.

One player from the Yankees that might interest Detroit is highly touted young outfielder Clint Frazier. According to The Athletic's Katie Strang, "It is believed that the Tigers are looking for an impact bat to be a centerpiece of any deal for Fulmer." The 23-year-old Frazier has been floated as a potential trade candidate because of the Yankees' slew of outfielders; he's been squeezed out of playing time by Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks.

Video: Jon Morosi talks about Trade Deadline possibilities

Iglesias wants to stay in Cincinnati
July 14: Reds closer Raisel Iglesias could be one of the most in-demand relievers at the Trade Deadline. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 2.41 ERA, 19 saves and 45 strikeouts in 41 innings this season. He's on a team-friendly seven-year, $27 million contract that runs through 2020. Plus, he's controllable for an additional season after that, through 2021.

But if it were up to him, Iglesias wouldn't be going anywhere. Addressing trade rumors on Saturday, he said he wants to stay in Cincinnati.

"I'm not paying attention at all to that," Iglesias said via translator Julio Morillo. "I want to stay here. I don't want to go anywhere else, but I don't control that. If I could control it, I would stay here and play here for all of my career."

Multiple contending teams could be looking for bullpen help at the Deadline -- like the Indians, whose bullpen has struggled this year especially as Andrew Miller has missed extended time due to injury, or the Astros, who just sent Ken Giles to Triple-A this week. According to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon, the Astros' front office is believed to think "very highly" of Iglesias. More >

Wheeler's trade stock continues to rise
July 14: While the Mets' asking price for Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard pushes interested teams away, Zack Wheeler is becoming a more attractive alternative with each start.

Although his outing vs. the Nationals on Saturday ended on a sour note as he allowed three runs in the eighth, Wheeler shut down Washington over the first seven frames and set a season high with 7 2/3 innings pitched to earn his first win since April.

Since the outset of June, Wheeler has recorded a 3.61 ERA in 57 1/3 innings spanning nine starts. He has bumped his average four-seam fastball velocity over 96 mph in that stretch after averaging 94.8 mph with the pitch in his first nine games this season.

But as his stock continues to rise, Wheeler may also be decreasing the Mets' interest in trading him. According to a tweet from Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets are "on the fence" about whether they will move the right-hander, who is under control through 2019.

Tweet from @NYPost_Mets: Zack Wheeler, a one-hitter through five. Was told earlier in the week the Mets are on the fence whether they will trade him. His stock is rising.

Angels, Yanks might be Deadline partners
July 14: The Yankees are casting a wide net in their search for starting pitching upgrades. Sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi on Saturday that the Yankees have recently been scouting Angels games, in case the Halos decide to become sellers before the Deadline.

New York is eyeing two Angels starters in particular: left-handers Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney.

The Yankees and Angels could be a good match as trade partners. Angels general manager Billy Eppler was the Yankees' assistant GM prior to taking the Angels job, where he worked with Yankees GM Brian Cashman in the New York front office.

Skaggs and Heaney (Skaggs especially) have both had solid seasons. The 27-year-old Skaggs, who is controllable through 2020, has a 2.57 ERA in 17 starts, with 105 strikeouts in 98 innings. Heaney, also 27, is controllable through 2021. He has a 3.84 ERA in 16 starts, with 96 strikeouts in 96 innings.

As Morosi notes, the Angels will likely require multiple MLB-ready players to trade either pitcher, as the club has no interest in starting a rebuild with Mike Trout signed for only two more seasons after this one. More >

What are Phillies' options beyond Machado?
If the Phillies aren't able to land Manny Machado, what might they do? According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal for FOX Sports, Philadelphia will still look to upgrade the left side of its infield, and could make a bid for Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who could share the role with current third baseman Maikel Franco. The left side would then have Franco/Beltre at third, and rookies Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford (currently on the disabled list) at shortstop.

Though he went 0-for-3 with a walk in Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Marlins, Franco has been hitting well of late following a slow start to the season. Entering play Saturday, he was slashing .359/.419/.615 in July. Kingery went 2-for-4 on Saturday, and is hitting .236/.282/.339 with four homers and eight steals this season. Crawford, sidelined with a broken left hand from being hit by a pitch, is hitting .194/.312/.333 with two home runs in 34 games this season.

With All-Star backstops drawing trade interest, Ramos leaves with hamstring issue
July 14: With the catching market seemingly on the verge of heating up, one of the backstops drawing the most interest -- the Rays' Wilson Ramos -- left Saturday's game with left hamstring tightness. He won't be able to play in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

A number of contenders have shown interest in Ramos and NL All-Star J.T. Realmuto, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. The Astros, Nationals, Red Sox and Phillies are among the teams who could be looking for help behind the plate.

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported Thursday that the Astros have been in contact with the Rays regarding Ramos, while MLB Network insider Jon Heyman noted in an article for Fancred Sports that some believe Houston will ultimately make a play for Realmuto.

Tweet from @jonmorosi: Sources: #Astros, #Rays have been in contact on a possible Wilson Ramos trade. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Realmuto will surely cost more than Ramos, as he is under control through 2020, while Ramos can become a free agent after this season. Per Feinsand, the Pirates' Francisco Cervelli, who is set to earn $11.5 million in 2019, could be another attractive trade target for catcher-needy clubs. More >

Will Braves trade for relief help with Vizcaino back on DL?
July 14: Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation again Saturday, less than two weeks after returning from his previous DL stint.

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported earlier this month that Atlanta was targeting controllable relievers in a trade, and Vizcaino's latest setback may only hasten the club's pursuit of a bullpen arm.

The Braves' bullpen entered Saturday with a 4.29 ERA, ranking 19th in the Majors, and many of their key relievers are inexperienced. Meanwhile, Vizcaino has an extensive injury history, undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012 and dealing with right shoulder inflammation in '16 and '18.

Britton's market picking up
July 14: The Orioles would prefer to trade Manny Machado and Zach Britton in separate deals, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal for FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports Baltimore feels the return for the pair would be greater if they weren't packaged together -- for example, the Astros have been interested in Britton, but are not in the market for a shortstop/third baseman.

There has been rejuvenated interest of late in the 30-year-old left-hander, who has made 14 appearances for the Orioles this season after returning from an Achilles injury. Though he got off to a rough start, Britton has not given up a run over his last six outings (six innings), while walking two and striking out six. 

Britton has shown a dramatic increase in his velocity on his sinker-slider combo in the past week alone. His sinker velocity averaged at least 95 mph over his most recent three outings entering Saturday, according to Statcast™ -- well up from the 93 mph he was showing when he first returned.

"He's getting a lot more sink on his ball, and that's what makes him an elite pitcher," O's executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said on Buster Olney's Baseball Tonight podcast. "Not just the velocity, but the movement and the sink within the strike zone. He had back to back saves against the Yanks ... I think that's when teams recognized that Zach Britton is back, and he can be a force in a pennant race for somebody."

A free agent after this season, Britton has a 3.95 ERA over 14 outings, but that mark has been ballooned due to a four-run showing against the Braves on June 22. He's thrown a scoreless outing in 12 of his other 13 appearances. And it was only last summer that Britton set an American League record with 55 consecutive saves converted. In '16, he generated significant consideration for the AL Cy Young Award, posting a 0.54 ERA in 69 appearances.

The Phillies have been the club most notably linked to the left-hander of late, according to a report from NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Phils have a throng of promising arms in their bullpen, though many lack postseason experience. Adam Morgan, who sports a 5.18 ERA, is the club's only other left-handed reliever.

 

Sox roll into break, lead over Yanks at 4 1/2

JBJ, Holt, Leon combine for 5 hits, 3 RBIs against Blue Jays
MLB.com

BOSTON -- There was no star on Sunday, no single slugger who carried the Red Sox to victory.

And that is what has allowed Boston to be the winningest team in baseball entering the All-Star break. Sure, the Red Sox are home to the MLB leaders in five offensive categories, but that's only the top of the batting order.

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BOSTON -- There was no star on Sunday, no single slugger who carried the Red Sox to victory.

And that is what has allowed Boston to be the winningest team in baseball entering the All-Star break. Sure, the Red Sox are home to the MLB leaders in five offensive categories, but that's only the top of the batting order.

View Full Game Coverage

A solid effort from the bottom half of the lineup boosted the Red Sox over the Blue Jays, 5-2, in the final game of the first half Sunday at Fenway Park. The victory left Boston with 68 wins in the first half, a 4 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East and 12 wins in its last 13 games heading into the All-Star break.

Video: TOR@BOS: Cora on ending 1st half, Rodriguez's injury

"Obviously, we have something real nice going on with this team," Xander Bogaerts said. "A lot of guys are starting to heat up lately. It's tough to go into the break with some guys heating up like that. But hopefully when we come back, we pick it up right where we left off."

Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez went hitless in the win, but the rest of the lineup picked up the slack -- a theme Red Sox manager Alex Cora has touched on when asked why his team continues to excel despite depth issues from injuries.

"It's going to take everybody to win and go deep into the season," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "We can't just put it on one, two, three, four people. We've got to do it collectively as a whole."

Bradley, Brock Holt and Sandy Leon hit a combined 5-for-9 with three RBIs in the win.

Boston took a first-inning lead thanks to a solo home run by Bogaerts -- his second in as many at-bats after Saturday's 10th-inning, walk-off grand slam -- and a single from Holt.

Video: TOR@BOS: Bogaerts mashes solo homer over the Monster

The production comes as Holt and Leon have been compensating defensively for a slew of injured Red Sox players -- including Christian Vazquez, Dustin Pedroia and Rafael Devers. Holt and Eduardo Nunez have tag-teamed at second base in Pedroia's stead, while Leon has shouldered most of the catching load, with help from Blake Swihart.

Toronto's Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run home run in the third inning to tie the score at 2. Bradley restored the Red Sox's lead in the fifth inning with an off-the-wall RBI double to center field. He then extended the lead to 4-2, scoring on Bogaerts' groundout.

"The way Jackie's swinging the bat now, he's not only hitting the ball solid he's putting good at-bats," Cora said, citing the walk Bradley drew before Bogaerts' grand slam, and two off-the-wall doubles.

Holt tacked on another run with an RBI single in the sixth, and Boston's bullpen held the Blue Jays scoreless through the final frames to lock in the win.

Video: TOR@BOS: Holt singles in Moreland to pad lead in 6th

That's how the Red Sox hammer out high-scoring wins. From the All-Stars to the bottom of the lineup, batters do their part to reach base and exhaust the opposing pitcher.

"Those guys have been doing great," Betts said. "Extending innings, making pitchers work, running the bases well. Just getting on base for the guys at the top to hit them in."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After a dropped catch by Holt and a miscommunication between him and Bogaerts allowed runners to reach first and second, the Blue Jays managed a single off of Heath Hembree, loading the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth inning. But Hembree struck out Dwight Smith Jr., holding the Blue Jays scoreless to preserve the Red Sox's 3-2 lead.

Video: TOR@BOS: Hembree K's Smith with bases loaded in 8th

SOUND SMART
Boston's 68 wins at the break mark the first time since 1949 it has tallied that many wins in 98 games. The Red Sox's .694 winning percentage is the second highest in franchise history at this point in the season.

HE SAID IT
"We have a very powerful, potent offense that can score from anywhere, and then we have a great bullpen that can come through and shut guys down. So I think we do a lot of good things on the field, and it shows." -- Betts

UP NEXT
Martinez and four of his teammates were rewarded for an incredible first half with a trip to the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. The Red Sox slugger will look to continue that momentum in the second half as Boston travels to Detroit to face the Tigers in Friday's second-half opener. David Price (10-6, 4.42 ERA) will take the ball for the Red Sox, and Detroit will counter with Matthew Boyd (4-8, 4.76). First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Blake Richardson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox

Who's the current favorite to land Machado?

Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers reportedly the current favorites in race for O's shortstop
MLB.com

As contenders continue to jockey for position with less than three weeks to go before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the leaderboard in the race for Orioles shortstop Manny Machado remains fluid.

A source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that, as of Saturday night, the Dodgers and Phillies are ahead of the pack. The Brewers also remain involved, according to multiple reports, with Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writing that "the gap between those teams is currently too close to call."

As contenders continue to jockey for position with less than three weeks to go before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the leaderboard in the race for Orioles shortstop Manny Machado remains fluid.

A source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi that, as of Saturday night, the Dodgers and Phillies are ahead of the pack. The Brewers also remain involved, according to multiple reports, with Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writing that "the gap between those teams is currently too close to call."

Catch up on the latest Trade Talk

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman tweeted Sunday that the Yankees and Indians are "in but perhaps behind," noting that the Brewers have made a "good offer."

Tweet from @JonHeyman: 5 teams still in for Machado. brewers have made ���good offer��� and appear to be in top tier with phillies and dodgers. yankees and indians also in but perhaps behind. situation fluid though.

Per previous reports, the Yankees were believed to have submitted one of the strongest offers for Machado, who can become a free agent at the end of this season. But with Miguel Andujar at third base and Didi Gregorius at shortstop, New York has less of a need for Machado than some of the other teams involved in discussions and may be more focused on adding a starting pitcher.

George A. King III of the New York Post reported Sunday that the Yankees are unwilling to move any of their top 10 prospects for Machado, and youngsters who have graduated off their prospect list such as Andujar, Gleyber TorresClint Frazier and Tyler Wade are also off the table.

Video: O'Dowd, Nelson discuss the Manny Machado sweepstakes

The Phillies had previously viewed the O's asking price as too high, but MLB.com's Todd Zolecki wrote Saturday that they were ramping up their push for Machado after seizing first place in the National League East within the past week.

While the Phillies remain steadfast in their refusal to deal top prospect Sixto Sanchez (MLB's No. 23 overall prospect, per MLB Pipeline), MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted Friday that they are open to trading from their starting pitching depth at all levels of the Minors.

According to a tweet from ESPN's Buster Olney on Saturday, the prospects being evaluated by the Orioles include pitchers Adonis Medina (Philadelphia's No. 2 prospect, No. 74 overall) and Franklyn Kilome (Philadelphia's No. 7 prospect), outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz (Philadelphia's No. 5 prospect) and middle infielder Arquimedes Gamboa (Philadelphia's No. 8 prospect).

A source told Morosi that the Phillies are more willing to include Medina than the Dodgers are to give up pitcher Dustin May (Los Angeles' No. 10 prospect), which could make the difference as the Orioles weigh their offers.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee arguably has as much of a need for Machado as any club, with Eric Thames and Ryan Braun on the disabled list, Orlando Arcia in the Minors and Brewers second basemen carrying a collective .663 OPS into Sunday's slate. The Brewers have lost six straight games, allowing the Cubs to pull ahead in the NL Central.

Thomas Harrigan is an editor for MLB.com.

Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Machado

Basabe homers for World on 102.3-mph pitch

White Sox prospect hits 2-run homer 404 feet at Futures Game
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

WASHINGTON -- Power in, power out.

And White Sox prospect Luis Alexander Basabe showed he has a power arm to boot.

WASHINGTON -- Power in, power out.

And White Sox prospect Luis Alexander Basabe showed he has a power arm to boot.

:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::

Basabe was the early star of Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park, turning on a 102.3-mph fastball from Reds top pitching prospect Hunter Greene for a tiebreaking, two-run home run in the third inning. The homer left Basabe's bat at 104.8 mph, according to Statcast™, and traveled a projected 404 feet.

Had it been a Major League game, and not an exhibition pitting top prospects from the U.S. against another team comprised of players from the rest of the world, Greene's fastball would have been the firmest MLB pitch turned around for a home run since Rafael Devers took Aroldis Chapman deep last season on a 102.8-mph heater.

According to Statcast™, there has been only one other Major League homer off a pitch in excess of 102.3 mph since 2008: A Kurt Suzuki smash off a 102.6 mph Chapman fastball in 2016.

The home run gave the World a 3-1 lead, two innings after Basabe showed he can throw hard himself. He scooped up Nathaniel Lowe's RBI single in the first inning and fired a 90.1 mph throw, per Statcast™, to second base to deny Lowe a double. Basabe's assist ended the inning.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Chicago White Sox, Luis Alexander Basabe

18 non-rental trade chips worthy of big haul

MLB.com @castrovince

The rental market in this period leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31 begins with the bang that is Manny Machado and then gets very iffy very quickly.

Oh, sure, there are noteworthy names such as Mike Moustakas, Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, etc. But it's a crop whose instant impact is in question, and several executives surveyed are expecting a scenario in which a cluster of comparable options could lead to some straight salary dumps when the Deadline draws near.

The rental market in this period leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31 begins with the bang that is Manny Machado and then gets very iffy very quickly.

Oh, sure, there are noteworthy names such as Mike Moustakas, Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, etc. But it's a crop whose instant impact is in question, and several executives surveyed are expecting a scenario in which a cluster of comparable options could lead to some straight salary dumps when the Deadline draws near.

So if you're looking for non-Machados worthy of hefty prospect hauls, you've really got to look beyond the rental market and into the available options under contractual control beyond 2018. For many contending clubs, that's the preferable path, anyway, because this allows them to not only fill a present hole but to get a jump-start on offseason roster construction.

Here, in no particular order, is a look at 18 potentially available guys who are controllable beyond '18.

1-4. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, starters, Mets
Control beyond 2018: Three arbitration years for Syndergaard and Matz, two for deGrom, one for Wheeler

We'll group the Mets' young starters together with the obvious caveat that the price tag on deGrom and Syndergaard -- and probably Matz -- is extraordinary. That said, this market is really light on bankable rotation options, and so it's not totally out of the realm of possibility that somebody will step up and blow the Mets away with an enticing offer of Major League-ready prospects (the Brewers, Dodgers, Braves, Phillies and Yankees would all be particularly well-positioned to make an aggressive offer). Syndergaard, who returned from a finger ligament strain Friday, has to prove he's healthy and capable of dominating every fifth day. Wheeler is the most movable piece here, but he's also the least proven, with a career ERA+ eight percentage points lower than MLB average in 83 starts.

Video: Noah Syndergaard is one of MLB's best fireballers

5. Kyle Barraclough, closer, Marlins
Control beyond 2018: Three arbitration years

Your typical "good closer on a bad team" is drawing plenty of interest. The three years of control are particularly appealing, because we've seen the rising price tag for relief help in free agency. Barraclough has mixed up his pitch patterns this season, making more effective use of a filthy changeup. The result is a career-best 1.31 ERA and 0.94 WHIP for the Fish. The Indians, Braves, Phillies and Astros make a lot of sense for Barraclough's services.

Video: Barraclough proves to be battle-tested out of bullpen

6. Blake Treinen, closer, A's
Control beyond 2018: Two arbitration years

Because it's Oakland, we have to include this breakout closer in the conversation. But the A's ought to be buying, not selling, in this trade market with the way they've played lately.

7. J.T. Realmuto, C, Marlins
Control beyond 2018: Two arbitration years

The Marlins traded their entire outfield last winter but held onto this guy. That's looking wise, because his trade value has likely only increased in an All-Star season in which he's slashed .310/.365/.539. The Marlins place a premium on Realmuto's leadership qualities, so they could seek to build around him. But his arbitration years might not align with their realistic rebuild timetable, and teams like the Nationals and Red Sox could make a strong pursuit.

Video: MIA@WSH: Realmuto tallies 5 singles and 3 RBIs

8-9. Brad Hand, closer, and Craig Stammen, reliever, Padres
Control beyond 2018: Two years, $14.7M, plus $10M team option for 2021 for Hand; one year, $2.25M for Stammen

Last summer, contenders balked at the idea of surrendering a major package (i.e., a deal centered around at least two Top 100-prospect types) for Hand, who had been a waiver claim as recently as the start of 2016. Hand has since maintained his elite presence and signed an extension, so the price is enormous again and the outcome is likely to be the same. Stammen, though, could move, particularly if the Padres package him with another reliever like Kirby Yates to get a better haul. Trouble is, Stammen has labored much of the past month (5.79 ERA in last 14 innings).

Video: Brad Hand a solid option to rack up saves

10. Raisel Iglesias, closer, Reds
Control beyond 2018: Two years, $11.4M

Iglesias' first name is pronounced "rye-SELL," but that doesn't mean the Reds will actively shop him. They've done great work to repair their reputation after a 3-18 start, and they expect to increase their payroll and try to make a more earnest contention effort next year. So a cost-controlled closer has value to them, too, and he's priced accordingly in this market.

11. Scooter Gennett, 2B, Reds
Control beyond 2018: One arbitration year

Gennett might be a different story for Cincinnati. The former waiver claim has remade himself into an All-Star with a .308/.355/.526 slash dating back to the start of '17. Because the Reds' top prospect, Nick Senzel, was playing primarily at second base for Triple-A Louisville before season-ending finger surgery, it might make sense to take advantage of what might be peak trade value for Gennett. A team like the Dodgers would be the perfect trading partner here, but the Reds would run the risk of upsetting a fan base that has understandably grown to love Gennett.

Video: Scooter Gennett continues to amaze in 2018

12. Whit Merrifield, UT, Royals
Control beyond 2018: Four years, including three arbitration years

The budget cost control is attractive. The .307/.377/.432 slash is attractive. And the versatility to play multiple positions in the infield and outfield might be the most attractive quality of all, as teams like the Brewers and Red Sox try to round out their rosters.

13. Michael Fulmer, starter, Tigers
Control beyond 2018: Four arbitration years (likely a Super Two this offseason)

There's interest because of the weak starting-pitching market, but the Tigers would potentially be selling at a low point. Fulmer's ERA is at 4.50, his walks are up and his opponents' hard-contact rate has risen. Every outing at this point is an open audition for contending clubs. The Dodgers were reported to have shown interest at one time, and the Yankees need help and have prospect depth.

14. Nicholas Castellanos, OF, Tigers
Control beyond 2018: One arbitration year

It feels as though he's been around forever, but Castellanos is just 26 years old and in his statistical prime. He's already reached a career-high 2.1 Wins Above Replacement this season. Castellanos is not a defensive asset in the outfield, but there aren't many outfield assets in this market, period. Maybe teams that could use help at either the outfield (Indians and Phillies) or even first base (Rockies) would pounce.

Video: Castellanos can provide power from OF corners

15. Shin-Soo Choo, OF/DH, Rangers
Control beyond 2018: Two years, $42 million

A first-time All-Star, Choo's having an awesome resurgence in his age-35 year, so we'll list him here. But knowing what we know about ageism in the market, particularly as it pertains to predominantly bat-only players, it's hard to imagine anybody taking on that contract, unless the Rangers eat the bulk of it to get prospect help.

16-17. Jose Abreu, 1B, and Avisail Garcia, OF, White Sox
Control beyond 2018: One arbitration year for each

Chicago's competitive timetable likely doesn't align with these contractual situations, but this might not be an ideal time to trade either guy. Abreu is an All-Star but has slumped this month. Garcia is currently on the DL with a hamstring issue that has hampered him much of the year. The Sox place enough sentimental value on Abreu for his leadership role with the younger Latinos on their roster that he's difficult to deal, but the Astros are (weirdly) among the clubs rumored to have checked in.

Video: Jose Abreu on pace for fifth career 100-RBI season

18. Chris Archer, starter, Rays
Control beyond 2018: One year, $7.7 million, plus team options for 2020 ($9M) and '21 ($11M)

It's our obligation to include Archer in these discussions because he's perpetually in the rumor mill. But he's having a down year, showed rust in his return from an abdominal injury last week and is considered valuable enough to the Rays that it will be difficult for a team to pony up the right price under the circumstances.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Who did sluggers pick to pitch in Derby?

MLB.com

From family members to longtime instructors, find out who these star sluggers picked to pitch to them at Nationals Park in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, on Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

From family members to longtime instructors, find out who these star sluggers picked to pitch to them at Nationals Park in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, on Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

:: Complete Home Run Derby coverage ::

1. Jesus Aguilar
A trip to the MLB All-Star Game will be a new experience for Brewers first-base coach Carlos Subero, who's never participated in a home run derby of any kind before. But his selection as Aguilar's pitcher is all about familiarity, with two years of experience pitching to the Milwaukee first baseman in batting practice.

"He's been throwing BP for me for almost two years," Aguilar said. "So he kind of knows me good. That's why I chose him." More >

Video: MIL@PIT: Aguilar hammers NL-leading 24th home run

2. Bryce Harper
As he promised earlier in his career, Harper is returning to this year's Derby because of its location: Washington's slugger was waiting for the event to be held at Nationals Park. While Harper has yet to publicly announce who will throw to him in the Derby -- he will likely do that at Monday's media availability -- the Washington Post recently reported that Harper plans to call on his father, Ron, to help him capture his first Derby crown.

Harper credits his father for helping shape his swing as a youngster in Las Vegas. The two paired up on the national stage once before, in the 2013 Derby at Citi Field. That year, the 20-year-old Harper became the youngest player to ever reach a Derby final, before losing to Yoenis Cespedes. The Nationals have not confirmed the Post's report.

If not his father, the other logical candidate is Nats bullpen catcher Nilson Robledo, who typically throws BP to Harper.

Video: WSH@NYM: Harper drives a 2-run homer to right field

3. Max Muncy
Muncy will borrow Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward from Dave Roberts' National League coaching staff for the Derby. Ward, 53, played 12 years in the Majors with the Indians, Blue Jays, Brewers, Pirates and D-backs from 1990-2001.

Ward has worked closely with Muncy since his call up to the big leagues and Dodgers debut on April 17.

Video: LAA@LAD: Muncy opens the scoring with a solo homer

4. Alex Bregman
Longtime Astros bullpen catcher Javier Bracamonte joins the contingent of Astros representatives heading to Washington for the All-Star festivities and will throw to Bregman. He threw All-Star Game BP to Andruw Jones and Jason Bay in Detroit in 2005 and Miguel Cabrera in '06 in Pittsburgh.

"He'll have fun with it," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "They picked a personality. There's some upside to him because he can put on a show. There's a downside for him if he doesn't put up numbers. There's a group of guys in here that'll probably be paying attention. He'll have fun with it." More >

Video: DET@HOU: Bregman crushes his 20th homer of the season

5. Kyle Schwarber
Mike Sinicola, a real estate agent who played baseball at the University of Miami and has thrown batting practice for Schwarber in Tampa, Fla., will pitch to the Cubs outfielder in the Derby.

Schwarber will take swings with a special red, white and blue bat with his Neighborhood Heroes foundation's logo. More >

Video: CHC@SD: Schwarber hits 2-run homer to opposite field

6. Javier Baez
The Home Run Derby will be a family affair for Baez, who will take pitches from his older brother Gadiel, 27.

"The family wants to be there. I asked him. He wasn't coming [to the All-Star Game] because he just had a baby, too, and he's been really busy. As soon as I told him [about the Home Run Derby], he was really excited." More >

Video: CHC@SD: Baez launches a 3-run homer to right

7. Freddie Freeman
Braves infield instructor Tomas Perez will pitch to Freeman during the Home Run Derby. Freeman has simply grown comfortable with Perez, who became his primary BP pitcher after joining Atlanta's staff on Opening Day. Perez spent portions of 12 Major League seasons (1995-2008) serving as a utility man for four different clubs -- the Blue Jays, Phillies, Rays and Astros. He faced just two batters when he made his only career pitching appearance during the Phillies' 17-3 loss to the Astros on May 13, 2002. Jeff Bagwell reached via an error and Jason Lane hit a lazy fly to end the eighth inning.

Video: ATL@STL: Freeman belts towering 2-run homer to right

8. Rhys Hoskins
"I think [Minor League infield coordinator] Chris Truby is going to throw to me. He throws good a batting practice. We obviously have a really good relationship spending a lot of time together in the Minor Leagues. And, yeah, he throws money BP."

Video: WSH@PHI: Hoskins belts a 2-run homer on 14th pitch

Jesus Aguilar, Javier Baez, Alex Bregman, Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Max Muncy, Kyle Schwarber

Story seals sweep of Seattle with walk-off blast

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- After being mobbed and dumped with sports drink and popcorn, Trevor Story heads to his first All-Star Game in style.

Story powered his first career walk-off homer over the center-field wall while leading off the ninth inning on Sunday against Nick Vincent to give the Rockies a 4-3 victory over the Mariners and a three-game sweep of the series at Coors Field.

View Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- After being mobbed and dumped with sports drink and popcorn, Trevor Story heads to his first All-Star Game in style.

Story powered his first career walk-off homer over the center-field wall while leading off the ninth inning on Sunday against Nick Vincent to give the Rockies a 4-3 victory over the Mariners and a three-game sweep of the series at Coors Field.

View Full Game Coverage

It was Story's 20th homer of the season -- second on the club to Nolan Arenado. The hit lifted the Rockies to their 13th victory in their last 16 games, including four in a row. It was the Rockies' first walk-off home run since the famously celebrated Father's Day homer last June 18, when Arenado's shot finished a cycle at Coors against the Giants.

Rockies starter Tyler Anderson gave up two first-inning runs and threw 28 pitches in the first, but held the Mariners there through six innings with five hits allowed, to go along with six strikeouts and a walk. Mariners starter Mike Leake also braved the rain to hold the Rox to two runs (one earned) and six hits in six frames.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Trevor Story

Ohtani discusses first half of rookie season

MLB.com @mi_guardado

LOS ANGELES -- Shohei Ohtani began his first MLB season as a two-way player for the Angels, but he'll head into his first All-Star break exclusively as a hitter due to a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

The Angels are hoping Ohtani will be able to recover his two-way identity in the second half, as the 24-year-old Japanese phenom is scheduled to be evaluated on Thursday to see whether the platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections he received on June 7 have continued to help heal his damaged elbow ligament.

View Full Game Coverage

LOS ANGELES -- Shohei Ohtani began his first MLB season as a two-way player for the Angels, but he'll head into his first All-Star break exclusively as a hitter due to a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

The Angels are hoping Ohtani will be able to recover his two-way identity in the second half, as the 24-year-old Japanese phenom is scheduled to be evaluated on Thursday to see whether the platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections he received on June 7 have continued to help heal his damaged elbow ligament.

View Full Game Coverage

While the Angels have missed Ohtani's contributions on the mound, the left-handed slugger remains a key piece of the lineup. He entered Sunday batting .285 with an .893 OPS, seven home runs and 22 RBIs in 156 plate appearances. Before the elbow injury, Ohtani also logged a 3.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts over 49 1/3 innings.

"I didn't set any expectations for myself before the season," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I just wanted to see how things panned out. I had to get through some ups and downs, but overall it went pretty well."

Manager Mike Scioscia praised Ohtani for his success and his ability to quickly adjust to a new country and new league after spending the first five seasons of his career in Japan.

"Shohei has shown that his talent is real, and he can play at a very high level in the Major Leagues," Scioscia said. "We're excited about that. I think he's done remarkably well for a young player coming over with so much on his plate."

Though Ohtani is now a full-time designated hitter, the Angels have tended to sit him against tough left-handed pitchers so far this season. While Ohtani had even splits in Japan, he has posted a .508 OPS against lefties in the Majors, compared to a 1.032 OPS against righties.

Still, Scioscia said the Angels were encouraged by Ohtani's double off Dodgers lefty Scott Alexander in Friday's 3-2 loss at Dodger Stadium. Ohtani said he hopes to earn more playing time against lefties moving forward.

"I've been saying this the whole time, I don't really feel uncomfortable hitting lefties," Ohtani said. "I hit them pretty well in Japan, so I just prepare myself for every at-bat. Of course, if I have better results, there are better chances I'll be starting against lefties. But ultimately that's up to Mike Scioscia, so I don't have much say in it."

Worth noting
• The Angels optioned infielder Jose Fernandez and recalled right-hander Eduardo Paredes from Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday. It marked Paredes' ninth stint with the Angels this year.

Jim Johnson (lumbar strain) threw a bullpen at Dodger Stadium on Sunday and is expected to log at least one more rehab outing before he's activated from the disabled list.

"We feel he's getting close," Scioscia said. "We'll see how it goes."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani

Best tools among Futures Game prospects

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

The best all-around player in the big leagues first displayed his abilities to a national audience at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. So did the Majors' best pure hitter and most fearsome slugger, not to mention the greatest pitcher of his generation.

Before they became superstars, Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton and Clayton Kershaw were Futures Gamers. Once again, the 20th annual prospect showcase will spotlight some of the most talented players in the Minor Leagues. Twenty-eight of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects will take the field at Nationals Park at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, with the game broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.com.

The best all-around player in the big leagues first displayed his abilities to a national audience at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. So did the Majors' best pure hitter and most fearsome slugger, not to mention the greatest pitcher of his generation.

Before they became superstars, Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Giancarlo Stanton and Clayton Kershaw were Futures Gamers. Once again, the 20th annual prospect showcase will spotlight some of the most talented players in the Minor Leagues. Twenty-eight of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects will take the field at Nationals Park at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, with the game broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.com.

:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::

These are the loudest tools that will be on display:

Best hitter

United States: Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers
Hiura has done nothing to dispel his reputation as the best hitter available in the 2017 Draft by batting .371 in his pro debut and .302 during his first full season while advancing to Double-A.

World: Luis Urias, 2B/SS, Padres
Urias' tremendous feel for the barrel as well as the strike zone allowed him to reach Triple-A at age 20, and he's hitting .278 with a career-high six homers as the Pacific Coast League's youngest batting qualifier.

Best power

United States: Jo Adell, OF, Angels
Taken one pick after Hiura (10th overall) in the 2017 Draft, Adell led U.S. high schoolers with 25 homers last spring and already has slammed 17 midway through his first full pro season. He has the best all-around tools in the Futures Game, coming in second as the fastest runner, the best defender and the strongest arm on the U.S. squad.

World: Seuly Matias, OF, Royals
Like Adell, Matias is a 19-year-old with electric bat speed, and while he's still raw at the plate, he tops the Minors with 26 homers.

Video: Top Prospects: Seuly Matias, OF, Royals

Fastest runner

United States: Taylor Trammell, OF, Reds
Georgia's 2015 Class A football offensive player of the year after rushing for 2,479 yards and 36 touchdowns, Trammell turned down college football opportunities and uses his plus-plus speed on the diamond instead.

World: Luis Garcia, INF, Nationals
The youngest player in high Class A (age 18), Garcia has well above-average speed but is still is learning how to use it on the bases.

Best defender

United States: Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates
His father Charlie played an average third base during 14 season in the Majors, but Ke'Bryan is a better defender and the total package at the hot corner, with range to both sides, soft hands and a strong arm.

Video: Top Prospects: Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates

World: Miguel Amaya, C, Cubs
Extremely advanced for a 19-year-old catcher, Amaya is a quality receiver and framer with a solid arm.

Strongest arm

United States: Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates
Hayes' arm stands out not only because of its strength, but also because of its accuracy and his ability to make throws from a variety of angles.

World: Seuly Matias, OF, Royals
Nearly as impressive as his prodigious power, Matias' plus-plus arm strength has enabled him to rack up 17 assists in 161 pro games.

Best fastball

United States: Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds
The No. 2 overall choice in the 2017 Draft, Greene may throw a triple-digits fastball more easily than any pitcher ever, thanks to lightning-fast arm speed and an extremely athletic delivery.

Video: Mayo on youngest players in Futures Game

World: Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins
Acquired from the Yankees in the offseason Stanton trade, Guzman is in the discussion for the hardest-throwing starter in the Minors with a heater that sits in the upper 90s and climbs as high as 103 mph.

Best curveball

United States: Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox
Cease has had a devastating curveball since high school and is getting more consistent with a hammer that draws comparisons to Dwight Gooden's at its best -- and he also can hit 100 mph with his fastball.

World: Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves
Toussaint's curveball has so much power and depth that it's both unhittable and sometime difficult to control.

Best slider

United States: Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves
Wright's mid-80s slider can overpower hitters, and there also are days when it's his third-best pitch behind his fastball and curveball.

World: Yoan Lopez, RHP, Diamondbacks
Lopez can blow away hitters with a wipeout slider as well as a fastball that touches 99 mph, which is why he has averaged 15.2 strikeouts per nine innings during the past two seasons.

Best changeup

United States: Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees
Reportedly made untouchable by the Yankees in trade talks, Sheffield has a solid changeup, a plus slider that rivals Wright's as the best on the U.S. staff and a 92- to 97-mph fastball.

Video: Top Prospects: Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees

World: Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics
Luzardo is having more success against right-handers than left-handers this season, in large part because of his fading and sinking changeup.

Best control

United States: Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates
Keller commands his 93- to 98-mph fastball to both sides of the plate and down in the strike zone, and he also locates his curveball and changeup well.

Video: A's Luzardo on pitching in upcoming Futures Game

World: Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics
With polish to go with three pitches that can grade as plus or better, Luzardo is averaging just 2.1 walks per nine innings as a 20-year-old in Double-A.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.