Gallo, Minors' home run leader, among sluggers slated to star in annual showcase
By Jonathan Mayo
If you're into the long ball, the 2014 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game is the game for you.
Fans of power will be very pleased with this year's rosters, which were released on Tuesday. The 16th edition of this Minor League exhibition on All-Star Sunday has some of the biggest bats the prospect world has to offer.
The U.S. infield alone will be enough to turn some heads. Joey Gallo, Kris Bryant and Peter O'Brien are currently first, second and third on the Minor League home run leaderboard. Gallo, who led the Minors in homers a year ago, is thrilled to make the trip to Minneapolis after missing out on last year's Futures Game invitation due to an injury.
"It's really sweet," said Gallo, who leads the Minors with 27 homers this year. "Last year, I was pretty disappointed. Hopefully, I don't jinx anything the next two weeks, continue to be healthy and can go again this year."
The 16th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will take place at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 13, at Target Field in Minneapolis, and it can be seen live on MLB.com and MLB Network, and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89 and Sirius channel 209. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game. Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send and receive tweets to and from the U.S. and World Team dugouts during the game by tagging tweets with the hashtags #USDugout and #WorldDugout.
Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League Clubs, selected the 25-man rosters for each club. Each Major League organization is represented, and players from all full-season Minor Leagues were eligible to participate.
Two Twins greats will be managing the squads. Longtime manager Tom Kelly will be in the U.S. dugout, while Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven will take the helm of the World Team. The U.S. Team, which has won each of the last four contests, leads the all-time series, 9-6.
The Futures Game rosters are made up of 27 players on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, including five in the Top 10. The Cubs' Javier Baez, the Astros' Carlos Correa and the Indians' Francisco Lindor are all on the World Team, while Bryant and Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard are on the U.S. roster. Correa, who is injured, was replaced by Angels prospect Jose Rondon.
The 23 Futures Gamers outside the Top 100 aren't exactly slouches. All but one are on their team's Top 20 Prospects lists. Sixteen organizations will be represented by a prospect ranked in their top three. There are 21 former first-rounders, including six from the supplemental first round. Among the 15 first-round picks, seven were selected in the 2013 Draft, four in the 2012 Draft, three in the 2011 Draft and one in the 2010 Draft.
The World Team features players from eight countries and territories outside the continental United States. The Dominican Republic is represented by nine players. Puerto Rico is next with seven representatives, while Venezuela has three and Colombia two. There are also players representing Canada, Panama, Mexico and Cuba.
There are a ton of new faces on both rosters. Twenty-three of the 25 players on the U.S. squad are first-time Futures Gamers. Gallo would be No. 24. Only Syndergaard is a repeat performer.
The World Team roster has a few more familiar faces. Lindor, a shortstop, and Braves catcher Christian Bethancourt are both making their third Futures Game appearances, while Maikel Franco of the Phillies and Rays lefty Enny Romero are attending for the second time in as many years. Like his organization-mate Gallo, Rangers catcher Jorge Alfaro was named to the team in 2013 but couldn't participate due to an injury.
Gallo, Bryant and O'Brien aren't the only ones with pop. Ten other Futures Game participants have double-digit home runs at this point of the season. But more than just the long ball, these are all players who have a very good chance of showing up on Major League rosters very soon.
"I never thought I'd have the chance playing in it, growing up and watching it on TV," Gallo said. "You never think you'd be in that game. I've heard about how great it is, so I'm excited. It's great to play against all of these other guys who you might be competing against in the big leagues one day."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.