Futures Game gives Rios, Perdomo a showcase

Futures Game gives Rios, Perdomo a showcase

TORONTO -- Blue Jays fans could get a glimpse at a pair of promising young arms during Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Games at Petco Park in San Diego.

Minor League pitchers Francisco Rios and Angel Perdomo were rewarded for their strong starts to the season with spots on the World Team, and a chance to compete against the top Minor League prospects in the game.

A right-handed starter who is not ranked among Toronto's Top 30 prospects by MLBPipeline.com, Rios has emerged with a breakout season over two levels in the Minor Leagues. Signed by the Blue Jays in 2013 out of Mexico, the 21-year-old is 6-3 this season with a 1.96 ERA in 16 starts, and has shown improved production across the board. Rios has allowed just 78 hits, while limiting the opposition to three home runs over 91 1/3 innings, and his breakthrough has been no surprise to Toronto's front-office brass.

"We definitely expected him to have a big season," said Gil Kim, the Blue Jays' director of player development. "One of the main goals for him was to have an aggressive mindset and challenge with the fastball a bit more. We know that he does have the pitchability and the stuff to be a future Major Leaguer."

A large part of Rios' success this season has been the ability to repeat his delivery, while improving his fastball command. Rios originally started the year with low Class A Lansing, allowing four earned runs in 30 innings, while striking out 43 batters and walking just eight. That success translated into a promotion to Class A Advanced Dunedin, where Rios has allowed 16 earned runs and struck out 43 batters over 62 1/3 innings.

"I remember scouting Francisco since he was 14 years old, and he's always been able to spin a breaking ball, and he's always known how to pitch," Kim said. "That confidence he has in knowing that he can be one of the best guys in our system -- and in this game every night -- has changed his mentality a little bit, and it's changed the way he's attacked hitters. It's translated into a lot of success.

"He's got a true out-pitch in the slider and he's been setting hitters up with the fastball before putting them away. He also has a curveball and a changeup to go along with it. Like with a lot of young pitchers, the more innings he throws and seasons he has, the more he'll improve."

The 22-year-old Perdomo was added to the roster in place of injured Mariners prospect Dylan Unsworth. Ranked as the 23rd-best prospect in the Blue Jays' system by MLBPipeline.com, the left-handed Perdomo has spent his season with Class A Lansing. Perdomo, who was signed by the Blue Jays out of the Dominican Republic in 2011, has gone 2-3 with a 2.71 ERA in 16 appearances -- including 14 starts -- this season. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound southpaw has struck out 96 batters in in 73 innings, while allowing just 47 hits and 34 walks.

"He's a big body with a deceptive delivery," said Kim, adding that the Blue Jays view Perdomo as a starter long term. "The key to him is that the hitters don't pick up his fastball, so you'll see a lot of strikeouts -- and he limits his walks. If you watch him, he's got a lanky frame and, really, it's an uncomfortable look for both righties and lefties. He pounds the zone with his fastball, and he's been improving his slider, as well as his changeup.

Major League Baseball, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 big league clubs selected the 25 players that will play for the U.S. and World Teams. Each Major League organization has at least one representative and all players from full season Minor League teams are eligible to be selected.

The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game features top Minor League prospects competing as part of All-Star Sunday. The U.S. Team, which has won each of the past six games, leads the all-time series, 11-6. As part of its live All-Star Week programming, MLB Network will exclusively televise -- and MLB.com will live stream -- the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Sunday.

The outing has long been a marquee event for Minor Leaguers across baseball, giving the next wave of talent a chance to play on a big stage.

"You're surrounded by the best names in the Minor Leagues and it gives you a motivational boost there, knowing you might be lot closer than you think," Kim said. "The motivation, the inspiration that you can draw from being on that world stage and competing against the best proves to a lot of guys that they're pretty good. Getting thrown into those situations with the amount of fans and the experience only makes a player better, in terms of handling pressure and bigger environments."

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.