Written by: Ray Butler (@CoachRayButler)
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So, before we get into the takeaways from Sunday’s Futures Game, I first want to give you somewhat of a summary of game action. After all, in all likelihood, you’re here to read about the specific player(s) you currently roster in fantasy baseball. Now’s your chance to do that. Go ahead and CTRL+F your way to your guy. We’ll dive into the talking points afterwards.
Brent Honeywell was fan-tastic. He mixed speeds and pitches exceptionally well. Yoan Moncada, Alex Verdugo, and Amed Rosario were nowhere close in the first inning. Rafael Devers singled to start Honeywell’s second inning of work, but he then got Ronald Acuña to fly out before striking out both Eloy Jimenez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to cap a scoreless two-inning outing. He struck out four of the seven batters he faced and was later named MVP. #swoon and #soon
As we’ve seen time and time again, Yadier Alvarez’s motion and delivery is so effortless. He struggled today, though. His command was spotty and left a couple of offspeed pitches over the plate in the bottom of the first inning. He walked Derek Fisher and gave up singles to Rhys Hoskins and Nick Senzel, the latter plating a run. (1-0, Team USA)
Cal Quantrill had a relatively disappointing day, allowing a single to Brian Anderson before grooving Chance Sisco a middle-middle pitch that turned into an opposite field triple. He walked Lewis Brinson later in the inning (who then stole second on Quantrill’s first pitch to the next batter. Catcher Francisco Mejia had a 1.87 pop time and threw the ball accurately to second base at 88 MPH, so I assume the stolen base falls mostly on Quantrill’s shoulders). The High-A Padres prospect allowed two runs in his inning of work. (3-0, Team USA)
Brendan Rodgers (playing at second base) made a spectacular play to start Michael Kopech’s outing, taking a base hit away from Josh Naylor. Kopech then coaxed Francisco Mejia into grounding out and struck out Yoan Moncada on a 100 MPH fastball. It was a runnerless inning for Kopech. As advertised, folks.
Rhys Hoskins saw a grand-total of two pitches thru his first two at-bats. The second was a HBP that started Mike Soroka’s inning. Two batters later, Kyle Tucker hit an opposite field double that scored Nick Senzel (who grounded into a fielder’s choice a batter earlier). Soroka then struck out Brian Anderson and got Chance Sisco to ground out; he allowed a run on only one hit during his inning of work. (4-0, Team USA)
Beau Burrows was fantastic in the top of the fourth inning. He sat at 96-97 with his fastball (that had some major life) all inning. Alex Verdugo grounded out before Burrows struck out Amed Rosario and Rafael Devers. Burrows’ stock continues to soar.
My midseason #1 overall prospect Brendan Rodgers led off the bottom of the fourth with a pull-side single off of Domingo Acevedo. Nick Gordon and Lewis Brinson both followed with base-hits up the middle (Brinson’s was a double that plated Rodgers). Derek Fisher then decided to get in on the act, slicing an opposite field double that plated two. Rhys Hoskins lined out (hard) to left field, Nick Senzel struck out, and Kyle Tucker flew out to the warning track to finish Acevedo’s outing. He allowed three runs. (7-0, Team USA)
Tanner Scott had pitching duties for Team USA in the top of the fifth. It’s not everyday you see a lefty who comes in pumping 99 MPH with ease. Scott was in a lengthy battle with Ronald Acuña before striking out on a devastating 88 MPH changeup; he then whiffed Eloy Jimenez on a similar 90 MPH offspeed offering. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got his hands around on a 99 MPH fastball and sent it to left field for a single, then Josh Naylor pulled a single to right field (that scored VGJ) before getting tagged out attempting to advance to second base. Scott has some big-time closer/late inning reliever potential. (7-1, Team USA)
Luis Escobar pitched the bottom of the fifth for Team World and was (generally) effectively wild. Brian Anderson flew out, Chance Sisco grounded out, Brendan Rodgers walked, then Bo Bichette flew out on a well-hit ball to right field that Yordan Alvarez made a smooth running catch on.
Fast-rising Jack Flaherty pitched the top of the sixth for Team USA. He got BABIP’d by Francisco Mejia on an infield single that traveled about eight feet, then Mauricio Dubon scorched an opposite field double. Victor Robles hit a sacrifice fly that scored Mejia, Lucius Fox grounded out to score Dubon, and Rafael Devers struck out to end Flaherty’s outing. He allowed two runs. (7-3, Team USA)
Jaime Barria took the ball for the World in the bottom of the sixth and nearly threw a perfect inning. Lewis Brinson flew out to center and Corey Ray struck out on a beautiful breaking ball offering, but Ryan McMahon walked after working a full count (a rarity for Barria, who’s walked only 16 batters in 95.2 innings so far this season). Barria bounced right back and struck out Nick Senzel to complete his appearance. Impressive showing by an underrated prospect.
Foster Griffin faced two batters in the top of the seventh and got both of them out (one via strikeout) before giving way to Jon Duplantier. Duplantier immediately found himself in trouble, allowing a single to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a walk to Yordan Alvarez. Thomas Nido followed that up with an opposite field single that plated Guerrero Jr. Mauricio Dubon then made solid contact, but lined out directly to fellow Brewers’ farmhand Lewis Brinson. The two shared a laugh immediately after. Duplantier allowed three baserunners and one run in 0.1 inning. (7-4, Team USA)
Not only does Thyago Vieira throw insanely hard, but his fastball has some amazing run on it as well. He has a chance to someday be a top-tier reliever. Vieira walked Bryan Reynolds and allowed a single to Brian Anderson to start his outing, but then he struck out Zack Collins and forced Scott Kingery to fly out. Of the 16 fastballs Vieira threw, only one was clocked at less than 99 MPH. Jairo Labourt came in to finish the frame, and he struck out Bo Bichette to strand two runners and keep the Americans off the board in the seventh inning.
Jimmy Herget and his mid-to-high 90s fastball don’t need deception to be successful, but man that erky-jerky delivery that features all sorts of release points must drive batters crazy. Herget struck out Victor Robles then forced back-to-back ground outs to complete a spotless inning. There’s no such thing as being a sure-thing, but Herget is about as close as it gets in the world of future high quality big league relievers.
The 6’8, 26 year old Tayron Guerrero worked the first two outs in bottom of the eighth inning for the World team. He forced Lewis Brinson into an opposite field fly out and Corey Ray into a pull-side ground out while topping out at 98 MPH. Jonathan Hernandez got the remaining out in the frame, retiring Ryan McMahon.
Triston McKenzie started the ninth inning for Team USA and retired Ronald Acuña on a fly out. Let’s hope the ninth inning isn’t McKenzie’s future role in the big leagues. A.J. Puk came in to turn off the lights on Team World, but had mixed results. After walking Estevan Florial, Puk got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to foul out (Ryan McMahon made a fine catch over the dugout railing). With one out remaining, Yordan Alvarez hit a single up the middle that was olè’d by Corey Ray, allowing Florial to score. Thomas Nido then singled to right, allowing Alvarez to score. Finally, Mauricio Dubon grounded out to third base for the final out of the game. It wasn’t a metaphor that described Puk’s stellar first half of the regular season, but he found a way to get the job done. Team USA squeaked by with a 7-6 victory.
I won’t lie to you. To common baseball fans, I imagine this game was fairly bland. There were no home runs hit, the commentators stumbled over player names and substitutions, the MLB Network even shifted coverage away from the game for a short period to broadcast Kyle Freeland’s attempt at a no hitter. So what should we carry with us from Sunday’s game?
- It was good to see some of the best prospects in baseball showcase tools that we don’t see in the box score on a daily basis. Ronald Acuna can hit and run, but today we saw the cannon arm that will help him stay in center field. Brent Honeywell is widely (and lazily) known as “the guy who throws the screwball”, but today we saw a pitcher with a plethoric arsenal whose polish matches or bests anyone in the minor leagues. Top prospects are top prospects for reasons that extend far past what you may see thru skimming a box score late at night. We saw several examples of that today.
- Don’t worry about today’s final score. The result in no way means that the United States is the native land of more talented prospects than the rest of the world. As a matter of fact, I strongly believe that the World Team (on paper) was much more talented than Team USA this year. A sign of things to come, perhaps.
- Instead of deeply examining the final score, look at how individual players performed, and how they performed against specific opponents. For example: I own Rafael Devers in my deep keeper fantasy league. I’m impressed that he was the only baserunner who reached base against Brent Honeywell (the game’s MVP). Beau Burrows was absolutely electric, inducing outs from Alex Verdugo, Amed Rosario, and Rafael Devers (Rosario and Devers via strikeout). Those are the kinds of things that matters in events like the Futures Games. On the flip side of that coin, I was hoping to see a better performance from Cal Quantrill (who I don’t own in any of my fantasy leagues). He hung around the middle of the plate too much and paid the price. Everything you read in the game summary is obviously a small sample, but it’s good to see your favorite/owned prospects perform well against other top-tier prospects when the opportunity arises.
- Now that the Futures Game has a bow on it, we should probably turn out attention back to focusing on potential promotions. Amongst guys you saw today, it’s already been announced that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette will both be promoted to High-A Dunedin following today’s game. I expect Rafael Devers to get promoted to AAA Pawtucket sometime within the next two weeks (though I have no inside information). Players like Yoan Moncada and Rhys Hoskins (among others) will probably receive a promotion to the big leagues at some point before the end of the season. We’ve already seen several promotions throughout the past two weeks, and I imagine we’ll see several more in the next 10-14 days.
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