In other words, it looks like another outstanding Futures Game is in the works.
Rosters for the seventh annual XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game were announced on Wednesday in an MLB.com exclusive webcast from Frisco, Texas, site of the 2005 Texas League All-Star Game.
The game, which features the top Minor League prospects in a United States-vs.-World formatted exhibition, will take place at Comerica Park in Detroit on Sunday, July 10, two days prior to the 76th All-Star Game to be played there. The game can be watched on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. ET or listened to on MLB Radio.
Twenty-five-man rosters for both the U.S. and World teams were selected by Major League Baseball Operations and the Major League Scouting Bureau, in conjunction with the 30 Major League clubs and Baseball America. Each Major League organization is represented, and the World team features players from six countries -- the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Canada, Venezuela, Australia and South Korea -- as well as Puerto Rico and Guam.
A total of 11 players appeared on MLB.com's Top 50 prospect list published during Spring Training. The United States has seven -- first basemen Conor Jackson (Diamondbacks) and Daric Barton (A's), outfielders Jeff Francouer (Braves), Jeremy Hermida (Marlins), Lastings Milledge (Mets) and Delmon Young (Devil Rays), and pitcher Zach Duke (Pirates).
The World team has four from the Top 50 list in shortstop Hanley Ramirez (Red Sox) and pitchers Francisco Liriano (Twins), Yusmeiro Petit (Mets) and Merkin Valdez (Giants).
While it's no guarantee, this year's group should know the odds of moving from a Futures Game to the big leagues are pretty good. There are 105 Futures Game alumni currently in the Major Leagues. Eight of this year's participants already know this. William Bergolla (Reds), Fernando Cabrera (Indians), Shin-Soo Choo (Mariners), Justin Huber (Royals), Ian Snell (Pirates), B.J. Upton (Devil Rays), Valdez and Josh Willingham (Marlins) all have big-league experience. Bergolla and Huber are up right now, but are expected to be returned to the Minors in time for the Futures Game. Should those plans change, both would be replaced on the World team roster.
Seventeen players who have competed in the previous six Futures Games have gone on to participate in a Major League All-Star Game:
|Player||Team||Position||All-Star Game||Futures Game|
|Mark Buehrle||Chicago (AL)||P||2002||2000|
|Carl Crawford||Tampa Bay||OF||2004||2002|
|Francisco Rodriguez||Los Angeles (AL)||P||2004||2003|
For the first time, there will be Minor Leaguers making their third appearances in a Futures Game. Huber, Valdez and Edwin Encarnacion (Reds) are all three-peaters, with Valdez making three consecutive visits.
In a game usually dominated by pitching, it does appear that the U.S. team has the edge on paper. As of June 21, the U.S. pitching staff had a combined 67-18 record with a 2.64 ERA and 31 saves. In 741 innings, the U.S. pitchers had yielded 604 hits, walking 227 and striking out 776.
The World staff's record over the same time period is 35-34 with a 3.23 ERA, allowing 596 hits and 230 walks in 685 1/3 IP. The World pitchers do have a better strikeout rate than the U.S. with 761 K's, just 15 fewer than the U.S. staff in 55 2/3 fewer innings.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.