The always exciting Futures Game rosters were announced this week, once again using the U.S. vs. the World set-up for competition. All 30 major league organizations are represented, and there were few surprises when the rosters were announced. While almost all the participants are worth watching, there are a few that will be worth an extra glance in this prospect-laden game.
In a game where virtually no one is of legal drinking age, there are a few participants who can barely vote. Representing the Rangers, for instance, will be Jurickson Profar, their 18-year-old shortstop prospect who made the jump to full-season ball in 2011 and has responded with an impressive .264/.372/.481 line in the Sally League and an even more impressive 32:29 BB:K rate.
Also representing the Sally League and cocky 18-year-olds everywhere is everyone’s favorite showboat, Bryce Harper, who, love him or hate him, is quickly becoming one of those player’s whose at-bats you plan your trip to the concession stand around. Regardless of whether you want him to succeed or you find yourself wishing negative things on a teenager, you can’t deny that his 2011 performance has earned him a spot in this game. The only question is whether one of the more established pitching prospects on the World roster, like the Braves’ Julio Teheran, who has spent some time in the majors already, tries to put Harper in his place, or on his butt.
Since Dustin Ackley‘s arrival in the majors this time last week, there have been a number of moves throughout the minors. Also being recalled to the majors, albeit not for the first time for either player, were Chris Carter of the Oakland A’s and Brad Lincoln of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Carter took the roster spot of Josh Willingham, who went on the DL.
With Daric Barton‘s recent demotion to Triple-A, Carter should see plenty of at-bats whether it’s in the outfield or at first base. Lincoln won’t be recalled until July 2, when he is scheduled to start the second game of a doubleheader for the Buccos, and it remains to be seen what his fate will be after that start.
Moving up within the minors were a number of well-known prospects. Orioles top prospect Manny Machado, himself a Futures Game participant, has made the jump from Low to High-A, joining the Frederick Keys in the Carolina League. Machado has struggled at the plate since returning from a knee injury, but appeared to be getting his timing back just before the Sally League all-star game, and went straight to Frederick after the event.
Also making the Low to High-A jump is Astros shortstyop prospect Jiovanni Mier, who will join the team’s Lancaster affiliate in the California League. Mier, a 2009 first-rounder, was sporting just a .734 OPS in his second stint in the Sally League, but the Astros promoted him anyway, perhaps hoping that the hitter-friendly environments in the California League will help Mier re-gain the offensive prowess he displayed after signing in 2009.
The Mets did some internal re-shuffling this week, moving impressive pitching prospect Matt Harvey up to Double-A after watching him treat the Florida State League much like he treated the ACC last season. Harvey, the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft, leaves St. Lucie behind with a 8-2 record and a 2.37 ERA, and most impressively a 3.83 K:BB ratio. Making the trip with Harvey is fellow 2010 draft pick Matt den Dekker, a fifth-round center fielder who sported a .857 OPS in the traditionally pitcher-friendly FSL. Moving up to St. Lucie to take den Dekker’s place will be Cory Vaughn, a 2010 fourth-rounder by the Mets and son of former major leaguer Greg Vaughn. The younger Vaughn arrives in the FSL sporting a .814 OPS from his time in Savannah.
Draft picks in action
A number of high draft picks from this month’s draft have already signed, and a few are already playing.
The Padres signed the No. 10 overall pick, second baseman Cory Spangenberg, immediately and assigned him to Eugene of the Northwest League, where he has already posted a line of .389/.636/.556, with an impressive 12 walks to three strikeouts in just 33 plate appearances. While there’s really no chance of that type of production continuing, Spangenberg was thought to be one of the more advanced hitters in the draft and shouldn’t be in short-season ball for long if he continues with anything along these lines.
The Giants inked the 29th overall pick, shortstop Joe Panik, quickly after the draft and he is also in the Northwest League, where he’s trying to one-up Spangenberg. Panik has hit to the tune of .480/.536/.760 in his six-game career thus far. Rangers supplemental first-rounder Zach Cone (37th overall) is continuing the trend of signing early and destroying the Northwest League, sporting a .941 OPS through his first three games in the league.
Dante Bichette Jr., taken 51st overall by the Yankees, has been sent to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and is hitless through his first 13 plate appearances. The Rays have sent Kes Carter, the 56th overall pick, to the New York-Penn League, where he is three for his first 13. Fellow Padres (supplemental) first-rounder Jace Peterson is manning the other side of the keystone with Spangenberg, but isn’t enjoying the Northwest League as much offensively, as he’s hitting just .222 in the early going.