The MLB Futures Game is an annual exhibition game played during the Sunday of MLB All-Star week between a team of top minor league prospects from the US and a team of prospects from “the World”. This event began in 1999 with limited fanfare but as interest in prospects and the major league draft has grown, so has this event’s profile. For scouts and for fans, the Futures Game is an excellent opportunity to watch the best prospects in the minor leagues compete against each other. I look forward to watching this game every year, and I thought I would share my notes from the game with you.
**** Individual Player Thoughts****
Bryce Harper: Bryce did not have his best day yesterday as he went 0-4 with two strikeouts and two ground outs to first base. What stood out to me was he seemed overanxious to make something happen at the plate, which is his reputation in showcase games he has played in previously. In the bottom of the sixth, Bryce flashed his plus-plus arm, throwing a ball from deep left field to home plate on a short hop: his arm and athleticism will be wasted in left field, so expect him to stay in right field as he has the tools to be a tremendous defensive player. Bryce certainly did nothing to diminish his status as the best prospect currently in the minor leagues, and should arrive in Washington sometime next season.
Brad Peacock: The other National’s player selected for the Futures Game, 22 year old right-handed pitcher Brad Peacock entered the game in the top of the 2nd inning for the US Team and was quite impressive. He pitched a three up, three down inning in which struck out the first batter, forced the second batter to ground out to first base, and the final batter popped out to 3rd base. Peacock threw nine pitches (seven strikes and two balls) in which there were six fastballs 92-95mph, two curveballs 74-77mph, and one changeup 82 mph. While nine pitches is not much to judge someone on, he showcased his plus fastball and bulldog demeanor on the mound which should force him to Washington before the end of 2011. How well Peacock can develop his changeup will ultimately decide if he is a power reliever in the bullpen, or a middle rotation starter. Either way, he has excellent promise and has improved his stock as much as any prospect in baseball in 2011.
Manny Machado: I was very excited to see Machado play, as I have not seen him yet in 2011. Machado immediately impresses because he is such a smooth, fluid athlete, and reminds me of a young Alex Rodriguez at the plate with his swing and body frame. Machado still has some filling out to do and needs polish like any teenager, but he showed patience at the plate and an extremely quick bat. I am excited to see his path through the minor leagues and how quickly he arrives in Baltimore, very likely sometime in 2013. Oriole’s fans, you should be thrilled that Machado is part of the organization, he is an elite talent.
Matt Moore: In the top of the 4th inning, Moore, a power left-handed pitcher from the Tampa Bay organization entered the game and was the most dominant pitcher in this showcase. Simply put, WOW! Moore only faced three batters and threw 11 pitches, but in that short amount of time, he flashed a 95-98mph plus fastball that induced swings and misses along with a plus to plus-plus 87-88mph slider that was virtually unhittable. Moore overmatched the three hitters he faced and looks to be the next in the long line of Rays pitchers they have drafted and developed in recent years. He profiles as an excellent #2 starter, with potential to be a legitimate Ace. Moore was terrific, and I am glad I had the opportunity to watch him pitch.
Jurickson Profar: Profar an 18 year old shortstop in the Texas Ranger organization, was a player I was anxious to see in this showcase: he has the reputation as one of, if not the best defensive shortstops in the minor leagues with some skill with the bat as well. He definitely needs to add some weight, but for someone with one half season in Low-A, he should have been overwhelmed in this game, yet he smacked the first pitch he saw into right-center field gap for a triple. Profar has solid speed, tremendous skills on defense and some hitting ability: file his name away as he could be a special player in a couple years.
Grant Green: Green is a player I have always believed in more than the general public, likely because I saw him hit the hardest ball of any player that I scouted in 2008 while he was in Cape Cod as a Chatham Angler. Last night Green crushed two doubles, first as a pinch hitter in the fifth inning then to start the US team rally in the eighth inning. While there have been questions both about his glove and his bat, I am totally in the tank for Green as I believe in his talent: perhaps more games like this will convince some of the doubters of what I see, a ten year starter at shortstop with an average glove and a plus bat.
Quick thoughts… Julio Teheran (RHP Atlanta) did give up a leadoff home run to Jason Kipnis (2B Cleveland) to open the game, but otherwise, flashed his 94-96 mph plus fastball to go along with a filthy curveball. Teheran is only 20 years old, but it is unlikely he will remain in the minor leagues much longer as his stuff belongs in the majors. In the 4th inning, Carlos Martinez (RHP St. Louis) entered and lived up to his Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn reputation, hitting a batter and throwing wildly before settling down to flash his 96-98 mph fastball and shut down the US Team. Martinez needs a lot of polish, but arms like that are difficult to find and he is quite a young talent.
Finally, I wanted to mention Tim Beckham (SS Tampa Bay), the top overall selection in the 2008 draft out of a Georgia High School. Beckham struggled so badly in his first two plus seasons that he was labeled a bust (Google Tim Beckham’s name, bust is the 4th topic that comes up… seriously!) but this season he has finally begun to show the talent that made him the top overall selection three years ago. Beckham ripped a double to the left field wall in the eighth inning yesterday, flashing the unusual power he possesses for a shortstop. While he may never live up to the status of a top pick, Beckham looks like a completely different player this season and should be a solid major leaguer within the next few years.
If you have never watched this game before, I highly encourage you to watch next year, as it is a wonderful event and many of these talented players will be on major league rosters shortly thereafter. Thanks again for reading, and please continue to spread the word about NatsGM!
You can follow me on Twitter @NatsGMdotcom, you can find me on Facebook search NatsGM, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.