If the 2012 MLB Futures is indicative at all of the future of Major League Baseball, you can expect a lot of offense in the future.
The Futures Game was special for the Royals fans in Kansas City as the starting pitchers for both the US Team and the World Team were Royals prospects, Jake Odorizzi and Yordano Ventura. But the pitchers took a backseat in this one. The second batter of the game, Rangers top shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar slammed a solo home run. Then in the second inning, Cubs outfield prospect Jae-Hoon Ha slammed an opposite field 2-run homer against the Pirates’ highly-touted pitching prospect Gerrit Cole to give the World Team a 3-0 lead. That lead went to 4-0 when outfield prospect Oscar Taveras (Cardinals) hit a sacrifice fly with lefty Danny Hultzen (Mariners) in the game. But the US Team refused to let the early deficit faze them.
Ventura and Marlins prospect Jose Fernandez faced the minimum 6 in the first 2 innings, aided by a caught stealing on a beautiful throw by Cristian Bethancourt, but Dodgers prospect Chris Reed was in for a rude awakening in the third inning. He allowed a couple of baserunners before Reds SS prospect Billy Hamilton laced a 2-run triple, and after a Reed throwing error and a groundout, the game was knotted at 4. After Dylan Bundy managed to work around 3 singles to toss a scoreless top of the 4th, the US Team’s hitters were back at it in the bottom of the inning, with catcher Tommy Joseph (Giants) drilling an RBI double off LHP Felipe Rivero (Rays) and another run scoring on an error.
Tyler Skaggs (Diamondbacks) and lefty Enny Romero (Rays) combined to toss the first combined scoreless frame by both sides in the game before Jameson Taillon (Pirates) let up an Oswaldo Arcia (Twins) RBI double to pull the World Team within 6-5. But the game would not remain close for long. Ariel Pena (Angels) experienced an absolute nightmare of an appearance, allowing 8 runs on 7 hits in just a third of an inning, allowing a 2-run double to Manny Machado (Orioles) and RBI doubles to Rob Brantly (Tigers) and Mike Olt (Rangers). Tigers stud prospect Nick Castellanos capped off the rally with a 3-run homer off Julio Rodriguez (Phillies) to give the US Team a commanding 15-5 lead. The 9-run inning was easily the most in Futures Game history. 17-5 was the final in the game as the US ended up drubbing the World Team. The final score was lopsided, but it was incredible to see all these players showcase their ability and their potential, even when the results weren’t always so pretty.
The offensive stars of the game were Castellanos, Royals outfield prospect Wil Myers, and Astros first base prospect Jonathan Singleton, all members of the US Team. Castellanos went 3 for 4 with his big 3-run shot, a walk, and 3 runs scored while Myers went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored and Singleton went 3 for 4 with a walk, an RBI, and 2 runs scored. Jurickson Profar and Jae-Hoon Ha both homered to be the key offensive contributors for the World Team. Castellanos was the Futures Game MVP, and deservingly so.
Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy earned the win in the game thanks to his nice performance, working around 3 singles, and Mets prospects Zach Wheeler and Matt Harvey both tossed 0.2 perfect innings for the US Team, but Yordano Ventura of the World Team was the only pitcher in the game to toss a perfect inning, as he forced three groundouts, and he is my Pitcher of the Game.
Even though the final score wasn’t close, both teams gave a nice showing and gave us reasons to be excited as these players work their way towards the big leagues. Congrats to all the participants and good luck to them as they look to make the transition from the Futures Game to the major leagues and eventually to the All-Star Game.