Callis vs. Mayo: Futures Home Run Derby

July 8th, 2021

On Monday night, the baseball world will turn its eyes to the sluggers trying to win the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Coors Field, a mainstay among All-Star festivities.

For years, there’s been a less formal All-Star Futures Game version that takes place the day prior. While there is no official SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Home Run Derby (but we sure would LOVE to see one), spectators watching the game’s future stars take batting practice have been counting how many balls leave the yard for years now. Who can forget Joey Gallo punishing a truck at Target Field in Minnesota prior to winning the 2014 Futures Game MVP?

On this week’s MLB Pipeline Podcast, we took a step toward formalizing this contest. Both Jim Callis and myself drafted Futures Game Batting Practice Home Run Derby lineups (FGBPHRD?), picking four players each among this year’s participants, serpentine-style, who we think have the chance to put on a show. We’ll have scorecards and everything to keep track of whose squad leaves the yard the most. Here’s how the draft went down:

1. Mayo - Julio Rodríguez, OF, Mariners (No. 5overall prospect): J-Rod is slugging .571 for the year (and hitting .329) while earning a promotion to Double-A, with the kind of personality that will help him understand he should put on a show in BP. (Power grade: 65)

2. Callis - Marco Luciano, SS, Giants (No. 12): The teenager has about as much raw power and bat speed as any hitter in the Minors and it’s translating to production, with 14 homers in his first 51 games during his full-season debut. (Power grade: 65)

3. Callis - Nolan Gorman, 3B, Cardinals (No. 28): His raw power is his main calling card (11 homers this year), plus he’s no stranger to All-Star related home run derbies, getting the chance to take his hacks between rounds of the MLB Home Run Derby after finishing second in the 2017 High School Home Run Derby in Miami. (Power grade: 60)

4. Mayo - Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Royals (No. 7): Another High School Home Run Derby veteran, Witt won that event in 2018 in Washington, D.C., and he already has 13 dingers this season. (Power grade: 60)

5. Mayo - Spencer Torkelson, 3B/1B, Tigers (No. 3): The No. 1 pick in the 2020 Draft, Torkelson took a little while to get going during his professional debut this year, but he has since worked his way to Double-A and has 10 homers (.562 SLG) between the two levels, bringing his plus-plus power with him to Coors Field. (Power grade: 70)

6. Callis - Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles (No. 2): Callis nabbed back-to-back No. 1 picks, taking the 2019 top pick here. And why not? Rutschman has 11 homers and a .500 SLG in Double-A so far this year, putting him in a tie for seventh among home run hitters in the Double-A Northeast League. (Power grade: 65)

7. Callis - Jarred Kelenic, OF, Mariners (No. 4): Yes, he struggled in his first taste of the big leagues, but he’s found his footing in Triple-A, homering seven times in 23 games since he got sent down, giving him nine for the year in the Minors to go along with a .623 SLG. (Power grade: 60)

8. Mayo - Riley Greene, OF (No. 15): Perhaps more known for his pure hitting ability (60 grade), the 20-year old has plenty of pop, with nine Double-A homers to show for it this year, and sometimes the pure hitters are the ones who go off in BP the most. (Power grade: 55)

After completing the draft, there was a realization that there were still so many good hitters who have the potential to put on a BP show, so host Jason Ratliff picked his own four-man squad from the remaining hitters: Brett Baty, 3B, Mets; Jasson Dominguez, OF, Yankees; Bo Naylor, C, Indians; and Nick Pratto, 1B, Royals.