WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The whole purpose of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game is to showcase the big league stars of tomorrow on one field. The previous 19 editions of the event have proven it to be a tremendous indicator of future All-Stars and award winners.:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::Who
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The whole purpose of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game is to showcase the big league stars of tomorrow on one field. The previous 19 editions of the event have proven it to be a tremendous indicator of future All-Stars and award winners.
:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::
Who among those on the rosters of the 20th Futures Game, set to be played at Nationals Park on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, will be the best Major League players? That question was posed to the players themselves as they arrived, and the responses were varied, to say the least.
A total of 31 votes cast resulted in 19 different players being mentioned, with all but two being position players. While no one player received a vast majority, Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. received more mentions than any other player, with six.
"He's a five-tool player," fellow Padres prospect Buddy Reed said. "He makes everything on the field look fluid and stupid easy. His 80 percent is like 100 percent for others. His 100 percent puts him in an All-Star type category."
"The guy's 6-4, plays shortstop and is super-athletic," Reds outfield prospect Taylor Trammell, who did receive one vote himself, said. "And he's 19 in Double-A."
"I'd have to say Tatis," Blue Jays shortstop prospect Bo Bichette agreed. "He's one of the first guys I remember playing against in pro ball and I thought he was the man."
Bichette came close to matching Tatis vote-wise, being chosen four times. One of those votes came from Tatis in a clear case of mutual admiration.
"Bo just hits," Tatis said. "And he can play defense. But guys who can hit like that play for a long time. What he did last year was impressive. I know he's struggled a little this year, especially compared to last year, but he's learning and it's a process."
Four other players -- Dodgers catcher Keibert Ruiz, Rockies infielder Brendan Rodgers, Angels outfielder Jo Adell and Cardinals right-hander Dakota Hudson -- were the only others to receive multiple votes, each getting two. A's left-hander Jesus Luzardo was the only other pitcher to be chosen.
Many of the votes came because of familiarity, which could be sorted into different categories. One is playing in the same organization. Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner picked Hudson, Dodgers prospects Yusniel Diaz and Ruiz chose each other, Orioles lefty Alex Wells picked third baseman Ryan Mountcastle and Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller took third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes, who he just played with in Double-A Altoona.
"He's the best third baseman I've ever seen," Keller said. "I see growth in his swing coming along, with more doubles and homers coming. He's going to be locked down at the plate in the future and he's locked down at third now. I see him having a long career."
Some of it comes from playing together as amateurs or growing up together. Those with Georgia roots spoke up for each other. Red Sox right-hander Bryan Mata comes from the same part of Venezuela as his choice, Mets shortstop Andres Gimenez.
Nationals shortstop Carter Kieboom took Trammell, while White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease went with Kieboom ("He hit a homer off of me last year," Cease said). Floridians had similar geographic pride, with Mountcastle talking about playing against Rodgers in high school when he voted for him and Rodgers taking Bichette with a refrain several players used as an explanation for their vote: "He's my boy."
Regional pride isn't reserved for those who came out of high school. The Florida Gators have churned out a ton of prospects, and big leaguers, and those guys stick together. But that's only part of the reason why Giants right-hander Shaun Anderson went with Mets first baseman Peter Alonso.
"I've played with him, I've seen what he can do," Anderson said. "He has power I haven't really seen before. He got one off me earlier. I texted him, 'Dude, you're an ERA crusher.'"
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.