MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Futures Game offers Statcast look at top prospects

Cubs' Jimenez runs astounding 127 feet for catch in right-field corner

Futures Game offers Statcast look at top prospects

SAN DIEGO -- For most fans, the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game is the first time to get a live look at the next generation of baseball superstars, but now that we all live in the future, it also carries a much bigger meaning. Since the game is the first time that most of these players have participated in a competitive game in a Major League stadium, it's also the first time we'll get them in front of Statcast™'s radar tracking system. It means that in the span of a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon, we've managed to get some data where before there had been none. For many players, the results were impressive. 

The Rockies have a pair of arms

Between them, Colorado's David Dahl and Jeff Hoffman threw six balls at 95 mph or faster. Thing is, only Hoffman is actually a pitcher. Dahl, playing center field for the U.S. Team in the top of the sixth, touched 95.6 mph when unsuccessfully trying to throw out Eloy Jimenez on Josh Naylor's single, then bested himself on the very next play when he hit 96.7 mph throwing out Naylor at the plate on a Carlos Asuaje hit. Consider that the entire Major Leagues have topped that number from the outfield fewer than 100 times all season, and suddenly you get why that's such a big deal.

Hoffman, meanwhile, topped out at 97.3 mph during his scoreless inning of work, but almost more impressive than the velocity was the spin. Hoffman's average fastball spin of 2,519 RPM is well above the Major League average of 2,260 RPM, and that's a big deal -- high-spin fastballs defy gravity for slightly longer, and are positively correlated to swinging strikeouts. He also had the single highest-spin pitch of the game, a 2,807 RPM curve to Tyler O'Neill that was also well above the Major League curve average of 2,474 RPM.

Jimenez is probably still running

By now, you've probably already seen the Cubs' Jimenez run into the next county to come down with a Dylan Cozens fly in the right-field corner. (If you have not, do so immediately.) By the time Jimenez got there, he'd run an amazing 127.8 feet, in no small part because the ball stayed up seemingly forever, with a hang time of 7.7 seconds. (Count to eight in your head, and realize just how how much time that is.) Jimenez's route efficiency of 88.6 percent added to the distance as well, because he didn't run in a particularly straight line.

It was so long of a run, in fact, that if it had happened during a regular-season game it would have been one of the five longest treks by a right fielder to successfully track down a ball all season. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top play, 143.4 feet by Baltimore's Joey Rickard on June 26, followed a similar pattern -- a hang time of more than seven seconds, a winding route, and a foul ball caught over the short wall. There's a reason you don't see these distances that often.

Oh, and he also crushed a homer (105.3 mph), rocketed a groundout (105.7 mph), and doubled (99.9 mph). Those were fine, too.

Eloy Jimenez's crazy catch

Reyes brings the heat

The Cardinals' Alex Reyes threw the three hardest pitches of the day, as well as seven of the top eight, providing three of the game's four triple-digit pitches, and showing above-average spin (2,358 RPM) as well. Reyes threw 20 fastballs, and the slowest was 96.4 mph. Only about 13 percent of all Major League fastballs are 96 or higher, and that's where Reyes' floor was (in a short outing, of course.)

But what made Reyes' appearance so impressive was that it came with a low-spin changeup that averaged 84.9 mph, a nearly 14 mph difference from his fastball. Most pitchers who have that big of a difference between their fastball and change are slow-tossing lefties… not fireballing righties.

Jimenez gets out in front

Detroit's Joe Jimenez threw only three pitches while getting Chance Sisco to line out, but he made the most of them. All three pitches had more than 7.1 feet of extension, and two of them were the two biggest extension pitches of the game. That's a big deal; extension measures how far a pitcher gets off the mound when he releases the ball, limiting the distance required for the ball to travel to the plate. (No one really throws 60 feet, 6 inches, after all.) The Major League average for a fastball is about 6.1 feet of extension, so Jimenez got out a full foot farther in front of that, reducing the time available for a hitter to react.

Jimenez throws hard as it is -- averaging 96 mph in San Diego -- and this could help explain why he's been so dominant for Detroit, striking out 55 against 11 walks in 32 2/3 innings across two levels, with a 0.83 ERA.

Margot can fly

Hometown outfielder Manuel Margot made a spectacular catch at the center-field wall, but what was perhaps as impressive is what he did after reaching in the sixth inning. Margot scored from first on Jimenez's double, and he did so in 10.2 seconds. That would have been the second-fastest time by any Padre this year, and the only reason that Wil Myers beat him out by doing it in 9.9 seconds on June 28 is that he was running with the pitch. A big part of the Craig Kimbrel trade that looked great at the time and looks even better now, Margot can really, really move, and the data shows it.

Statcast: Margot's leaping catch

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.