Top prospects ready for Futures Game star turn
Fifty of the best young talents in Minors set to compete Sunday at Citi Field
NEW YORK -- Baseball fans, especially in New York, tend to live in the present, looking for immediate results, if not sooner. On Sunday, though, they'll take a day to look ahead to the future.
The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, in many ways the kickoff event for All-Star festivities, brings the best young talent baseball has to offer together on one field. The United States vs. the World format puts more than 50 of the Minors' brightest on the game's biggest stage.
"I think every Minor League baseball player wants to be a part of something like this," Phillies pitching prospect Jesse Biddle said. "You play with the best talent and you want to see how you stack up against them. Everyone in this game is supposed to be future big leaguer, so that's a really exciting opportunity.
The Futures Game takes place at 2 p.m. ET on All-Star Sunday at Citi Field in New York and can be seen live on MLB.com, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game. Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send/receive tweets to/from the U.S. and World Team dugouts during the game by tagging tweets with the hashtags #USDugout and #WorldDugout.
The Citi Field faithful will certainly enjoy the glimpse of their team's future, with three Mets prospects set to participate. Pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero may one day be part of the same rotation, but they'll be facing off as the starters for Sunday's exhibition, just as Jake Odorizzi and Yordano Ventura, then both with the Royals, did in Kansas City in 2012.
|CF: B. Hamilton, CIN||LF: R.Fuentes, SD|
|2B: D. DeShields, HOU||2B: A. Alcantara, CHC|
|RF: G. Springer, HOU||SS: X. Bogaerts, BOS|
|1B: C.J. Cron, LAA||3B: M. Sano, MIN|
|3B: M. Davidson, ARI||RF: H. Urrutia, BAL|
|LF: J. Pederson, LAD||1B: J. Lennerton, DET|
|DH: C. Yelich, MIA||CF: G. Polanco, PIT|
|SS: A. Russell, OAK||DH: M. Franco, PHI|
|C: A. Hedges, SD||C: A.J. Jimenez, TOR|
|RHP: N. Syndergaard, NYM||RHP: R. Montero, NYM|
"It'd be pretty cool," Syndergaard said prior to be named the starter for the U.S. Team. "If I didn't, I wouldn't be disappointed. I'm just happy to be on the roster."
The Mets' pitching duo is joined by outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who was named to the squad in the first Futures Finalists vote, with fans picking him from a group of five U.S. Team finalists to be added to the roster. Another U.S. Team candidate, Garin Cecchini of the Red Sox, has since been added as a replacement for Joey Gallo of the Rangers, and World Team Futures Finalist candidate Ji-Man Choi replaced injured Rangers catching prospect Jorge Alfaro. Carlos Correa, the No. 1 overall pick of the Astros last year, was the World Team Futures Finalist winner.
"It was an interesting experience," Nimmo said. "It was a lot of fun to go through. To have [Matt] Harvey tweeting, and [Mets general manager] Sandy Alderson, it was kind of surreal, but I just tried to soak it in and enjoy it. I got a lot of support from what I think is the best fan base in baseball."
Syndergaard, Nimmo and others will be trying to extend the U.S. winning streak to four games. The United States now holds an 8-6 edge in the all-time series, pounding out 17 runs in last year's victory.
The vast majority of this year's participants are attending the Futures Game for the first time, with Yordano joining names like Taijuan Walker, Billy Hamilton and Xander Bogaerts as top prospects coming for the second consecutive year.
"I'm obviously really excited to be here, excited for the fans to be able to see me up close and in first-person," said Nimmo, one of the first-timers. "It's nice to come play where you want to play the rest of your career. Hopefully, it's the first of many, many games for me here."
Eighteen organizations will be represented by a prospect ranked in their top three. The teams feature 13 former first-round Draft picks, seven players picked in Compensation Round A and four second-round picks. The World Team features players from 10 different countries and territories outside the 50 United States.
"It's great for me to be here and be a part of the Futures Game," said Andre Rienzo, who will be representing the White Sox and his home country of Brazil on the World Team. "When the coach told me, I didn't believe it. I'm glad it happened. I hope it's going to be a good game tomorrow."