The 2017 Futures Game is setting up to be an unbelievable showcase of young talent from all throughout the league. Given the need to spread invites around the league, not every player in the Futures Game is a top 100 prospect. That said, there are a whole bunch of very talented players, many counted amongst the top prospects in all of baseball. The Futures Game is unique in that league, level, age, and in some respects background (obviously where they are from dictates to some extent what roster they can be on) are stripped away and the best of the best compete against one another in a sort of Super MiLB All-Star game.
The World team roster for the game is loaded....really loaded. Below is a quick preview of what each player brings to the table and how they got here in the first place.
Yadier Alvarez - RHP- Cuba
One of the better arms in a very good Dodgers farm system, Alvarez has a big time arm with a fastball that regularly visits the upper 90s and hits 100-plus miles per hour. He has posted a 5.37 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 23 walks in 55 1⁄3 innings in high-A in 2017.
Jaime Barria - RHP-Panama
More of a work in progress arm, Barria has potential but lacks the elite stuff and velocity of many of his peers in this game. That said, he is still among the better pitching prospects in the Angels system even if that isn’t saying much right now. He has posted a 2.26 ERA with 83 strikeouts and 16 walks in 95 2⁄3 innings in 2017 in Double-A.
Luis Escobar - RHP-Colombia
Another young arm with a big fastball, Escobar’s heater can hit 96-97 MPH although he is still raw as a pitching prospect and has been a relatively slow mover in the minors for the Pirates given some command and control issues in addition to his middling secondary offerings to date. He has a 4.64 ERA in low-A with 100 strikeouts and 33 walks in 75 2⁄3 innings.
Domingo Acevedo - RHP- Dominican Republic
The injury prone Acevedo has had a bit of a breakout season in 2017 as he made up for lost time. He has even seen a bit of time in Triple-A after starting in high-A to begin the season. He regularly throws triple digits and has a good changeup which is borderline unfair for a guy that throws as hard as he does. He has 107 strikeouts and 23 walks in 99 innings across three levels this season.
Tayron Guerrero - RHP- Colombia
Oh look, another big time fastball on the World team roster. Guerrero hits the high 90’s with regularity and he is 6’8 which allows him to throw downhill and generate ground balls. He has a good slider when it is working as well. Guerrero has posted a 3.93 ERA in 2017 across High-A and Double-A in the Marlins farm system as a reliever with 27 strikeouts and 16 walks in 18 1⁄3 innings of work.
Mike Soroka - RHP-Canada
One of the better control pitchers in the minor leagues, Soroka has been dominating Double-A as a 19 year old with an improved changeup and breaking ball, advanced maturity on the mound despite his age, and the ability to keep his fastball down to generate ground balls. He has posted a 2.55 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 21 walks in 91 2⁄3 innings for the Braves’ Double-A affiliate in 2017.
Jonathan Hernandez - RHP-Dominican Republic
Hernandez features a mid-90s fastball in addition to a slider and a changeup. He will need to miss more bats and hold his improved velocity as he moves up the ladder, but there is projectability there and he has big league pedigree as his dad pitched in the majors. The Rangers prospect has posted a 5.17 ERA in low-A and high-A this season with 70 strikeouts and 22 walks in 71 1⁄3 innings this season.
Jairo Labourt - LHP--Dominican Republic
The Tiger’s reliever is another player with a big time fastball on the roster in addition to an improved slider that has him positioned to be a high-leverage reliever. He is also the only lefty pitcher on the roster which could or could not end up being relevant. Labourt has 55 strikeouts and 10 walks in 43 1⁄3 innings to go along with his 2.08 ERA in 2017 across two levels of the minors.
Cal Quantrill - RHP—Canada
A potential top five pick in the 2016 draft before requiring Tommy John surgery, Quantrill features one of the best changeups you will see out of a prospect (or anywhere really) in addition to a fastball that sits in the low to mid 90s and slider that gives him a good three-pitch mix. The future Padre has a 3.67 ERA in his first season of full-season ball at high-A with 76 strikeouts and 24 walks in 73 2⁄3 innings.
Thyago Vieira - RHP—Brazil
Oh look, another big time fastball on the World team roster (sensing a pattern?). The young Mariner relief prospect sits in the high 90s with his fastball and hit 103-104 MPH in the Arizona Fall League in 2016. Vieira has a 3.41 ERA in 34 1⁄3 innings of work in 2017 with 32 strikeouts and 14 walks.
Tomas Nido - C---Puerto Rico
Nido is a bat-first catcher who won the batting title in his high-A league last year. The Mets prospect has worked hard to improve behind the plate and looks like he can stick back there. He has slashed .246/.282/.382 in 59 games in Double-A in 2017.
Francisco Mejia C--Dominican Republic
Arguably the best catching prospect in the game, Indians fans should be excited that they have a switch-hitting catching prospect with a cannon for an arm that also hits for average and power. He has posted a .339/.383/.555 in 57 Double-A games this season.
Josh Naylor - 1B—Canada
One of the better prep power bats in the 2015 draft, Naylor can hit and hit for power. But he doesn’t really do much else and could be destined to be a DH as his defense is not good. He also had an incident/”accident” last season involving a knife that resulted in a teammate requiring surgery on his thumb. Naylor has posted a .297/.361/.452 line in 2017 for the Padres high-A affiliate.
Yordan Alvarez - 1B —-Cuba
The young Astros prospect has big power from the left side of the plate and has hit well enough in his first season of pro ball since being signed out of Cuba. He is slashing .338/.441/.601 in 2017 over 43 games in high-A.
Yoan Moncada - 2B—-Cuba
Arguably the best prospect in baseball, Moncada won the MVP award in last year’s Futures Game. He possesses major league speed and power right now which is why the White Sox were thrilled to get him in the deal that sent Chris Sale to Boston. That said, he does strike out a bunch and that trend has continued in 2017 with 90 strikeouts in 326 plate appearances. He has posted a .282/.380/.455 line in Triple-A in 2017.
Mauricio Dubon - 2B/SS---Honduras
Dubon has some versatility defensively and is having a breakout campaign on the base paths as he has already hit a career-high in stolen bases in 2017 with 32 so far. He isn’t a masher, but he hits for average and reaches base at a good clip. The Brewers prospect has a .270/.329/.354 line across Double-A and Triple-A in 2017.
Amed Rosario - SS—--Dominican Republic
Possibly the best shortstop prospect in baseball (especially after Gleyber Torres went down this season due to injury), Rosario’s all-around offensive and defensive game in addition to his track record of success in the minors has more than a few folks wondering why the Mets haven’t called him up already. Rosario’s line in 2017 in Triple-A currently stands at .320/.359/.469.
Lucius Fox - SS---Bahamas
After a rough 2016 campaign, the change of scenery to the Ray organization is paying dividends for Fox after he was one of the top J2 prospects in the 2015 class. He has already met or eclipsed much of his offensive production from 2016. He is slashing .276/.358/.356 with 25 stolen bases in 2017.
Rafael Devers - 3B---Dominican Republic
After showing tons of promise as an international prospect and in his first couple of years in the minors, Devers is breaking out in a big way in 2017 with big-time power numbers and a surprisingly improved defensive game over at third base. The Red Sox prospect has posted a .302/.367/.586 line at Double-A with 18 homers in 2017 despite being the youngest player in his league.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - 3B—-Dominican Republic
Few prospects have the type of helium that Vlad Jr. has. After garnering a lot of attention for his performance and tools he exhibited in rookie ball, Guerrero is currently laying waste to low-A in a manner that has to make his dad proud. He is currently slashing .317/.411/.472 in 2017, but the Blue Jays have to be thinking that with his swing that there is even more power to come.
Victor Robles---Dominican Republic
Robles broke out as prospect in a big way in 2016 with a loud offensive tool set and the ability to basically play wherever he wants to in the outfield and do it very well. His ability to hit for power and terror opposing teams on the base paths makes him among the more fun players to watch in the minors. The Nationals prospect is currently slashing .302/.388/.524 in high-A, which if we are being honest probably means that the Nationals are going to trade him at the trading deadline (only kind of kidding).
If you are looking for a prospect to make the sort of leap into the upper stratosphere of prospect rankings that Robles did last year, Acuna is your guy. Acuna is among the leaders in the minors in stolen bases and he has big time power to go along with it. He is the youngest player in his Double-A league (he will be 19 until December) and all he has done is post a .854 OPS since getting promoted there earlier this year. The young Braves prospect has posted a .305/.354/.486 across two minor league levels in 2017.
Another player having a breakout season is Florial, who is crushing baseballs and flying around the base paths for the Yankees’ low-A affiliate. Florial can really run and that, in addition to the power production he is showing after a fairly rough 2016, has him poised to make his way onto top 100 prospect lists at the midseason point. Florial’s current line in 2017 sits at .300/.385/.509 with 11 homers.
Eloy Jimenez—-Dominican Republic
Light-tower power!— MLB (@MLB) June 20, 2017
Eloy Jimenez channels Roy Hobbs. pic.twitter.com/mfrGPa8lrb
One of the best prospects in baseball, Eloy has big-time raw power and he hit a blast in last year’s Futures Game that helped to introduce him to the masses. The Cubs have an embarrassment of riches right now at the major league level, with Eloy just a year or two away from knocking at the door himself. Eloy is slashing .279/.358/.510 in high-A in 2017.
All Verdugo has done in his minor league career is hit. He may not have the same upside as some of his outfield contemporaries on this roster, but he has a great arm for the outfield and his approach and control of the barrel of the bat is major league ready right now. The Dodger prospect (another team with an embarrassment of riches) currently has a .347/.417/.467 line in Triple-A in 2017.