The 11th annual XM All-Star Futures Game, pitting the best Minor League prospects from the United States against the best from the rest of the World, will be held at Busch Stadium at 2 p.m. ET/1 CT. MLB.com will provide complete coverage before, during and after the game, which can be seen live on MLB.TV, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD, and followed live on Gameday.
The game has, in many cases, been the first time in the national spotlight for players who have gone on to stardom. Such players include Alfonso Soriano, the MVP of the inaugural game in 1999, Josh Hamilton (2000), Adam Dunn (2001), Jose Reyes (2002), Zack Greinke (2003), Prince Fielder (2004), Hanley Ramirez (2005), Ryan Braun (2006) and Evan Longoria (2007).
And don't let the word "Futures" fool you into thinking that the game's participants are a long ways away.
Last year's game at Yankee Stadium featured such names as current Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval and Colorado Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler, both of whom found themselves in the big leagues to stay just a few weeks later.
Among the other 2008 players who are making their names in the Majors now: Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus, Arizona outfielder Gerardo Parra, Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Oakland starters Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill.
This year's Futures crew includes a dozen recent first-round picks, including six from the 2008 Draft. Three of them are Pirates third base prospect Pedro Alvarez (No. 2 overall), Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz (No. 4) and Houston catcher Jason Castro (No. 10).
There are also familiar names, thanks to some good bloodlines, such as a trio from the U.S. Team in second baseman Eric Young Jr. of Colorado, the son of retired 18-year veteran Eric Young; Phillies right-hander Kyle Drabek, whose dad Doug picked up a Cy Young Award of his own; and Oakland infielder Jemile Weeks, the club's first-round pick last summer out of Miami who is the younger brother of Milwaukee infielder Rickie Weeks.
And of course, no names in that contest are more familiar than those of the game's managers, U.S. Team skipper Ozzie Smith and his World Team counterpart, Jose Oquendo.
Smith, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002, is no stranger to All-Star festivities, having been named to the NL team 15 times. But getting to take the helm of the team in front of his home fans in St. Louis will certainly be extra-special for Smith.
A 13-time Gold Glove recipient, Smith posted a .262 career average and stole 580 bases over 19 big league seasons before his retirement at the end of 1996. He helped lead the Cards to four postseason appearances, including a 1982 World Series title.
The Future is Now
|Starting Lineups: XM All-Star Futures Game|
|A. Escobar||SS||MIL||1.||E. Young||2B||COL|
|T. Gillies||RF||SEA||2.||D. Jennings||CF||TB|
|A. Liddi||3B||SEA||3.||B. Wallace||3B||STL|
|B. Canizares||1B||ATL||4.||C. Carter||1B||OAK|
|J. Montero||C||NYY||5.||P. Alvarez||DH||PIT|
|N. Weglarz||LF||CLE||6.||C. Heisey||LF||CIN|
|B. Lawrie||DH||MIL||7.||T. Flowers||C||CWS|
|W. Flores||2B||NYM||8.||J. Heyward||RF||ATL|
|L. Durango||CF||SD||9.||D. Espinosa||SS||WAS|
|J. Tazawa||RHP||BOS||SP||C. Tillman||RHP||BAL|
Oquendo, the host Cardinals' third base coach, is in his 10th season with the St. Louis organization after a 17-year playing career. He also managed the Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic team in 2006 and 2009.
This year's Futures Game game will be a nine-inning event, just the third time in its 11 years that it will go longer than a pre-planned seven. In the event of a tied score after 10, the game would be a draw.
There is no clock on baseball, but Sunday afternoon's schedule has a whole lot more on the slate.
After the Futures Game concludes, fans at Busch Stadium will be treated to the fun-filled softball game scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. CT.
Smith will only have to trade in one uniform top for another, as he'll be joined by five other Hall of Famers and several other former stars on the All-Star Legends team.
Former Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter will join Smith as a hometown hero and Hall of Famer for the Legends team, and will also be joined by Hall of Fame stars Dave Winfield, Ernie Banks, Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage.
St. Louis fans will also be able to cheer for former favorites such as closer Lee Smith, outfielder Vince Coleman and manager Whitey Herzog, along with legendary veterans Tommy John and Fred Lynn.
The Celebrity squad that will be facing them will have a decidedly St. Louis feel, including several stars who grew up in or around the city.
Among that group are rapper Nelly, hip-hop artist Chingy, and NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, who graduated from the University of Missouri.
A trio of prime-time TV stars will also be making their All-Star debuts in their own hometowns: Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam Beesly on "The Office," Jon Hamm, who has garnered several award nominations as advertising executive Don Draper on "Mad Men," and Annie Wersching, who plays FBI agent Renee Walker on "24," all hail from St. Louis.
Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson, who is also the defending champion of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," will be competing, as will such luminaries as recording stars Ashanti and Ginuwine; "Desperate Housewives" star James Denton; movie star Billy Bob Thornton; Backstreet Boys singer Brian Littrell; Hall of Fame basketball coach and ESPN college basketball analyst Bob Knight; and Andy Richter of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien."
Emceeing the proceedings will be the duo of Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, the famed "Mike and Mike" duo of ESPN Radio.
The Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game will be broadcast in HD by ESPN immediately following the State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET.
Tickets for Taco Bell All-Star Sunday can be purchased online at www.allstargame.com, all 30 MLB club sites, via Ticketmaster at 1-888-FanFest and at the Busch Stadium box office.