Outside of perhaps the Draft, the SiriusXM Futures Game is the most exciting time in MLBPipeline land. We spend so much time ranking, writing about and talking about these players that getting to see so many of them at one time on the same field, on such a big stage,
Outside of perhaps the Draft, the SiriusXM Futures Game is the most exciting time in MLBPipeline land. We spend so much time ranking, writing about and talking about these players that getting to see so many of them at one time on the same field, on such a big stage, gives us a definite kid-in-a-candy-store type feeling.
So it's a cause for celebration when the rosters for the Futures Game are announced, as they were on Thursday for the 19th edition of the game. Of course, every rosters announcement is followed up by questions. Good thing we have a vehicle to answer such queries. Not surprisingly, this week's Pipeline Inbox is dedicated to your questions about who is, and who isn't, on the 2017 Futures Game rosters.
:: 2017 Futures Game coverage ::
Let me guess, you're a Dodgers fan? It's a valid question, as both have performed well enough to warrant consideration for the game. There are a few things to consider. The first is the restraints of the game. There are only so many roster spots and every organization needs to be represented. Add to that the fact that, in general, there aren't more than two players from each team (there are some exceptions this year).
In full disclosure, I am part of the group that helps determine who should be on the team each year. And let me tell you, there are some tough choices to make. Every year, finding room for pitchers, especially on the U.S. side, is difficult. So while Buehler certainly deserves consideration, and is firmly on our Top 100, it was hard to find a spot. Then there's limitation of taking players from the Dodgers. I know Yadier Alvarez hasn't been putting up great numbers, but the World pitching staff was a little thinner and he is an exciting pitcher I think most would like to see.
As for Calhoun, the U.S. middle infield is pretty stacked, including some very good second basemen. Add in the fact that Calhoun went to the game last year and it was time to let some new names in.
He certainly was considered, and the Padres' infielder has been very impressive. He's hit everywhere he's gone and can play multiple positions, something that would add value to a Futures Game roster. But take a look at the World infield. Amed Rosario and Yoan Moncada? Hard to compete there. Throw in Cal Quantrill being on the World pitching staff and Josh Naylor filling the often tough to find World first baseman need, there just wasn't room for Urias this time around.
I have been to every Futures Game except one (the birth of my daughter won out over the 2004 edition in Houston), so there's a lot of history to sift through. In some ways, answering this question really would require a longer look at future success, sort of like evaluating the Draft. I don't mean to kick this down the road, but seeing how many of this year's Futures Gamers go on to not only get to the big leagues, but become impact players would be the true measure.
I will say that in terms of number of Top 100 players, it's right up there. The last four years:
This year's rosters have 27 Top 100 players, so by that measure it's as good as any group in recent memory. Eight of the top 13 prospects will be on the field at Marlins Park. That's some serious elite-level prospect power.
It certainly was interesting to see the Braves aggressively push a number of their top prospects up two levels to start the 2017 season. A number of players who were on the Rome Braves team that won the South Atlantic League title last year started the year in Double-A, like Soroka and Allard, who there just wasn't room for on the U.S. pitching staff. Acuna started the year in the Florida State League and quickly hit his way up to join Soroka and Allard in Mississippi. Currently, Allard is at No. 44 on the Top 100, Soroka is No. 65 and Acuna is No. 88. I think it's safe to assume all three will make a nice leap up the list when we re-rank. That's coming in late July, by the way.
An argument can certainly be made that Allard is the best left-handed pitching prospect in the game. Soroka's advanced feel for pitching, plus his stuff, at such a young age should move him up among right-handers and it's become more and more clear that Acuna is one of the more dynamic outfield prospects in the game. We haven't lined them up yet, but I could see Acuna making a Victor Robles type of jump. The Nats outfield prospect went from No. 63 up to No. 10 by the end of the 2016 season.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.