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Prospects we wanted to see in Futures Game

@GoldenSombrero and @JonathanMayo and @JimCallisMLB
July 9, 2020

In a typical year, fans would have been able to watch some of baseball’s top prospects square off this weekend in the 22nd annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which had been scheduled for Sunday, July 12 at Dodger Stadium. But this isn’t a typical year, and due to the ongoing

In a typical year, fans would have been able to watch some of baseball’s top prospects square off this weekend in the 22nd annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which had been scheduled for Sunday, July 12 at Dodger Stadium. But this isn’t a typical year, and due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Futures Game, as well as the entire 2020 Minor League season, was canceled amid safety concerns.

To help fill the void left in the absence of this year’s event, the MLB Pipeline crew has chosen one player from every team we would like to have seen in the 2020 Futures Game. While there are some players on the below list who previously appeared in a Futures Game, the group primarily features younger prospects, the majority of whom would have been first-time selectees.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Jordan Groshans, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 75)
Groshans got off to a hot start last year at Class A Lansing, batting .337/.427/.482 over his first 23 games and seemed poised to earn a Futures Game selection before having his season wiped out by a foot injury in mid-May. The former 12th overall pick (2018) has an impact bat, one that leads scouts to project him to hit for average and power, and he’s already shown the ability to drive the ball with authority to all fields.

Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C (No. 1/MLB No. 4)
The No. 1 pick in the 2019 Draft, Rutschman has barely been able to show what he can do, with just over 150 career at-bats to his name from last summer. The Futures Game would be a perfect time for him to show off his hitting and power tools (watching his BP would be so much fun) and his all-around abilities behind the plate on a national stage. Plus, it might be the only time we’d get him in the game since the expectation would be that he’ll move quickly through the O’s system.

Rays: Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS (No. 4/MLB No. 72)
Acquired from the Padres, who selected him with the 38th overall pick in the 2018 Draft, during the offseason, Edwards, a switch-hitter, displayed an advanced bat and approach in his first full season, batting .322 with 162 hits (tied for third-most in the Minors) and 34 steals between Class A Fort Wayne and Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. He knows how to work the count, rarely swings and misses and makes quality contact from both sides of the plate, with speed that enables him to impact the game on both sides of the ball.

Red Sox: Jeter Downs, SS/2B (No. 1/MLB No. 44)
A Reds supplemental first-rounder as a Florida high schooler in 2017, Downs already has been traded twice, going to the Dodgers in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp deal in December 2018 and to the Red Sox as part of a package for Mookie Betts in February. Named after Derek Jeter, he had an .888 OPS with 24 homers and as many steals while reaching Double-A last year. He also showed improvements at shortstop but his range may fit better at second base in the long run.

Yankees: Luis Gil, RHP (No. 5)
Gil has emerged as a possible steal since the Yankees acquired him from the Twins in exchange for Jake Cave in March 2018. He posted a 2.72 ERA with 123 strikeouts in 96 innings between two Class A stops in 2019 while working with a lively upper-90s fastball and power breaking ball.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Indians: Tyler Freeman, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 96)
Freeman has some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the Minors, as evidenced by his .319/.379/.441 batting line and 9 percent strikeout rate in three years as a pro. A supplemental second-rounder from a California high school in 2017, he has a high baseball IQ and likely will shift to second base down the road.

Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., SS (No. 1/MLB No. 10)
While the Royals decided to include Witt Jr., the No. 2 overall pick from the 2019 Draft, in their 60-man player pool, he’s a long shot to reach the Majors this year as a 20-year-old prospect who lacks full-season experience. Witt is, however, more advanced than the typical prep Draft pick, with five-tool potential packed into his athletic and projectable frame, and he presumably would have received a full-season assignment this year under normal circumstances.

Tigers: Riley Greene, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 31)
Greene’s ability to hit for both power and average as a prep led to his selection by the Tigers with the sixth-overall pick in the 2019 Draft, and he lived up to his reputation as one of the best hitters in his class by raking his way up to Class A West Michigan in his pro debut. He was anything but overmatched as a 19-year-old in big league camp this spring, batting .417/.611/.917 with a pair of homers in 18 plate appearances as part of an overall performance that suggested he could move quickly in his first full season.

Twins: Trevor Larnach, OF (No. 3/MLB No. 81)
Larnach had parlayed a huge junior year at Oregon State into being the 20th overall selection in the 2018 Draft. He then lived up to his billing as an advanced hitter by posting a .309/.384/.458 line in his first full season, splitting between the Florida State and Southern Leagues. Larnach hit 13 homers, but also had 30 doubles, and there’s more over-the-fence pop to come.

White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B (No. 2/MLB No. 16)
One of the best offensive prospects to come out of college baseball in recent years, Vaughn went No. 3 overall in the 2019 Draft after a storied career at California. With a smooth right-handed swing, bat speed, strength and a measured approach, he hits for plenty of average and power while drawing a healthy amount of walks. If the coronavirus hadn't altered the baseball season, he might have reached Chicago by the end of 2020.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

Astros: Jeremy Pena, SS (No. 7)
In a normal 2020, most of the Astros' best prospects would have been in Houston by midseason, so the choice here is the son of former big league second baseman Geronimo Pena. A 2018 third-rounder out of Maine, Pena is an adept defender who added strength and recorded an .825 OPS with 20 steals between two Class A levels in his first full pro season.

Angels: Brandon Marsh, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 79)
Former Futures Gamer Jo Adell gets more of the attention -- he is our No. 6 overall prospect, after all – but Marsh deserves time in the spotlight. If it weren’t for Mike Trout, Marsh would be the center fielder of the future for the Angels, one with tremendous all-around tools. He missed some time due to injury early in 2019, but ended up hitting .300 in Double-A, then went on to hit .328/.387/.522 in the Arizona Fall League. There’s more power to tap into, he can really run and he can flat out play the outfield.

A’s: Nick Allen, SS/2B (No. 5)
Allen was taking a very nice step forward with the bat in the move to the California League (.292/.363/.434) in 2019 until he was shut down with an ankle injury in June. He did make it back to get some reps in the Arizona Fall League, though he didn’t hit well. One thing he can do, and has always done, is defend. He’s one of the best defensive shortstops in the Minors, one who makes the routine and ridiculous play consistently.

Mariners: Jarred Kelenic, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 11)
We’re going to want a 2-for-1 deal here, with a Futures Game that features both Kelenic and fellow outfield prospect Julio Rodriguez. But we’ll give Kelenic, the 2018 first-round pick who hit his way across three levels and went 20-20 in his first full season, the slight nod as the organization’s current No. 1 prospect.

Rangers: Josh Jung, 3B (No. 1/MLB No. 55)
The No. 8 overall pick in last year's Draft, Jung was one of the most polished hitters available and batted .316/.389/.443 in his pro debut, mostly in low Class A. The Texas Tech product is a hit-over-power guy but has the bat speed and strength to hit 25 or more homers per season if he gets more aggressive and turns on more pitches.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Drew Waters, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 26)
Cristian Pache might create more buzz, but Waters isn’t too far behind his organization-mate in terms of his all-around ability. He won the batting title and MVP honors in the Double-A Southern League in 2019 at age 20. He’ll need to improve his plate discipline, but there’s a lot more power to come (40 doubles in 2019), giving him 20-20 potential. He’s also a superb defender who would only have to move to a corner because of Pache (who might move Ronald Acuña Jr. to the other corner eventually).

Marlins: JJ Bleday, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 28)
Bleday led NCAA Division I with 27 homers and 192 total bases as part of a College World Series championship team at Vanderbilt in 2019, when he went No. 4 overall in the Draft. More than just a slugger, he's an advanced hitter who walked more than he struck out in each of his three college seasons and also projects as a solid right fielder.

Mets: Ronny Mauricio, SS (No. 1/MLB No. 62)
Signed by the Mets for $2.1 million in July 2017, Mauricio spent his entire age-18 campaign in the Class A South Atlantic League, batting .268/.307/.378 in a circuit where the average player was 3.5 years his senior. It’s all about projection with Mauricio, who still has plenty of room to grow into his 6-foot-3, 166-pound frame, and evaluators expect his future strength gains to translate to above-average game power. Exactly how big Mauricio gets will likely determine whether he sticks as a shortstop, but the bat still should be good enough for him to profile at the hot corner if he’s forced down the defensive spectrum.

Nationals: Luis Garcia, SS/2B (No. 2/MLB No. 97)
A year removed from appearing in the 2018 Futures Game, Garcia opened ‘19 as the youngest player (18) at the Double-A level and struggled early before turning it on in the second half, batting .272 with 22 extra-base hits, including four home runs, over his final 65 contests. The Nationals have been aggressive with the teenager’s development after signing him for $1.3 million in July 2016, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the club were to call upon him to contribute in the Majors during this year’s shortened season.

Phillies: Spencer Howard, RHP (No. 2/MLB. No. 34)
Anyone who saw Howard pitch in the AFL last fall would want to see the Phillies’ top pitching prospect, and one of the best right-handed prospects in the game, let loose for an inning in the Futures Game. He gave up just 10 hits and struck out 27 in 21 1/3 IP in Arizona with a fastball that touched 99 mph and a nasty changeup he’ll throw at any count, not to mention two distinct breaking pitches.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Brewers: Mario Feliciano, C (No. 3)
A Competitive Balance Round B pick in the 2016 Draft out of Puerto Rico, Feliciano battled injuries early in his career before breaking out in 2019 to garner Class A Advanced Carolina League MVP honors after he paced the circuit in home runs (19), RBIs (81), slugging (.477) and total bases (210) at age 20. His combination of pure hitting ability and power is among the best in Milwaukee’s system, and he still has considerable room for improvement with regards to his plate discipline and contact rate.

Cardinals: Nolan Gorman, 3B (No. 2/MLB No. 47)
One of the better power hitters in the 2018 Draft class, Gorman smashed 17 bombs and reached full-season ball during his pro debut but had a challenging first full season ’19, batting .248 with 15 home runs and near-30-percent strikeout rate. He still represented the Cardinals at the Futures Games in July, just a few weeks after the organization had pushed the then-19-year-old up to the pitcher-friendly Class A Advanced Florida State League in June, where he was more than three years younger than the circuit’s average player.

Cubs: Brailyn Marquez, LHP (No. 2/MLB No. 68)
Marquez received the largest bonus ($600,000) of any lefty on the 2015 international amateur market because he already reached the low 90s at age 16 and his projected frame promised more velocity to come. The Dominican southpaw sat at 96-98 mph and repeatedly reached triple digits last year, and he also flashed a plus power breaking ball and dramatically improved control while dominating down the stretch.

Pirates: Oneil Cruz, SS (No. 3/MLB No. 64)
This was one of the easiest choices to make as Cruz is one of the most fascinating prospects in baseball to watch. He’s a legit 6-foot-7 shortstop who has shown he can stay there with ridiculous athleticism for his size. He’s still figuring things out at the plate and learning how to tap into his tremendous raw power (his BP at the Futures Game would be fun, too) and he has one of the strongest arms in the Minors.

Reds: Nick Lodolo, LHP (No. 1/MLB No. 48)
The first pitcher taken in the 2019 Draft, No. 7 overall, Lodolo gave a glimpse that he’s ready to live up to expectations as an advanced college lefty who can move quickly through the Reds’ system. The lefty has above-average stuff across the board with plus control. All of it was on display as he reached full-season ball during his summer debut and finished with 30 strikeouts in 18 1/3 IP without walking a single batter.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

D-backs: Kristian Robinson, OF (No. 1/MLB No. 43)
Signed out of the Bahamas for $2.5 million in July 2017, Robinson offered a glimpse of his potential in 2019 as he slashed .282/.386/.514 with 14 homers while ascending from Class A Short Season Hillsboro to Class A Kane County in his age-18 season. The 6-foot-3 outfielder’s massive right-handed power highlights an exceptional all-around set of tools, which, overall, give him one of the higher ceilings in the Minors among teenage prospects. He’s the type of young player everyone would have wanted to see in the 2020 Futures Game, and there’s no doubt that he would have put on a show during batting practice.

Dodgers: Keibert Ruiz, C (No. 4/MLB No. 73)
Ruiz played in the Futures Game as a 19-year-old in 2018, striking out in his lone at-bat and leaving the game early when a foul ball caught his right hand. His defensive ability stood out when the Dodgers signed him for $140,000 out of Venezuela in 2014, but the switch-hitter since has emerged as a quality bat with solid if untapped raw power. Though he struggled to a .261/.331/.347 line last year, he still reached Triple-A at age 20 and maintained his standing as one of the game's top catching prospects.

Giants: Marco Luciano, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 35)
Signed for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 and regarded as the Giants' best international prospect in a while, Luciano lived up to his billing by batting .302/.417/.564 with 10 homers in 47 games as a 17-year-old making his pro debut last summer. He possesses exceptional bat speed and perhaps more raw power than any infielder in the Minor Leagues.

Padres: CJ Abrams, SS (No. 2/MLB No. 25)
After being taken with the sixth-overall pick in last year’s Draft, Abrams made his case as one of the Minors’ most exciting and dynamic prospects by producing a .401/.442/.662 line over 32 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League before finishing his pro debut at full-season Class A Fort Wayne. The 19-year-old shortstop stands out in all facets of the game with his elite athleticism and 80-grade wheels, while his quick left-handed bat and penchant for making hard contact has led scouts to project him as a future plus hitter who also hits for some power.

Rockies: Ryan Rolison, LHP (No. 2)
Rolison narrowly missed our Top 100 earlier this year after handling the challenge of pitching in the extremely hitter-friendly confines of Lancaster in the California League in 2019 very well. He has three at least above-average pitches, with a plus curve, and knows how to use all four of his pitches well. To his credit, he didn’t stray from what makes him successful in Lancaster, which has forced many other pitchers change to try to adapt to the environment too much.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

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