Futures Game

Man-child and number one prospect in the game, Jason Heyward.

The All-Star Break used to be all about the stars of the major leagues, but now, the minor leaguers are also involved. Brainchild of current Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball Jimmie Solomon, the Futures Game began in 1999 to showcase the young stars of the game. Solomon began as the Director of Minor League Operations in 1991, and he would begin this game in order to generate more interest in the best prospects of the game.

Players are chosen by Baseball America. The magazine selects 25 players for a World and USA team (Puerto Rican players are part of the World Team, even though they are technically US citizens, because Puerto Rico has its own baseball federation). Each major league team has to have one representative, but no team can have more than 2 prospects.

Originally, the Futures Game was only 7 innings long, but in 2008, it was changed to a full 9 inning game. Of course, this season’s game was shortened to 7 innings, but that was because of rain (and was a fun game to watch if you didn’t). It’s played on the Sunday before the All-Star Game in the same city and stadium that the actual All-Star Game is played.

The World now leads the series, 6-5, after today’s game. They won the original game before the USA won the next two. The World won the next one before the USA again ran off two more. After the two teams traded off victories again, the World has taken the past three games, the first two in dominant fashion before rallying this season.

Because the game does feature the best prospects in the game, it’s safe to assume that many of the players have turned out to be major league players that have significant impacts for their team. Among MVP’s, Alfonso Soriano (1999), Jose Reyes (2002), and Grady Sizemore (2003) are some of the key players from the game that have become All-Stars in the majors. We’ll have to wait on Rene Tosoni.

But you want some fun trivia, don’t you? Most prospects only play in the game once, but it’s not illegal to play in it more than once. In fact, some players have played in the game more than once. Carlos Carrasco, Shin-Soo Choo, Edwin Encarnación, Justin Huber, Seung Song, and Merkin Valdez have played in the game 3 times, the most among players. Most players play in consecutive seasons or just skip one year, but Francisco Liriano (2002 and 2005) and Robinson Diaz (2004 and 2007) skipped two seasons in between appearances, the longest in between appearances among players.

It’s not a big tradition, yet, but I like watching the young players get out there on a big stage.

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