Rangers RHP Jack Leiter is a good place to start because he exemplifies what’s  weird about the Futures Game. Leiter hasn’t earned his spot on the field (6.30 ERA), but that’s not uncommon to this game, which different organizations use for different reasons on a player-by-player basis. It’s not an All-Star game, in other words. It’s not even an all-famous game, although that’s what gets Leiter on the roster. It’s not even really a combination of the two. Some organizations might send a middle reliever, like Baltimore did with Marcos Diplan in 2021, who the team DFA’d the other day, almost exactly a year after Diplan gave up home runs to Brennan Davis and Francisco Alvarez in Coors Field during the sixth inning of last year’s Futures Game. 

 

American League 

Pitchers

Mariners RHP Emerson Hancock (23, AA) 

Rays RHP Taj Bradley (21, AA) 

Rangers RHP Jack Leiter (22, AA) 

Astros RHP Hunter Brown (23, AAA) 

Angels LHP Ky Bush (22, AA) 

Tigers RHP Wilmer Flores (21, AA) 

Blue Jays LHP Ricky Tiedemann (19, A+) 

Blue Jays RHP Yosver Zulueta (24, AA) 

Yankees LHP Ken Waldichuk (24, AAA) 

Fun pitching staff, which is kind of the point of the game insofar as it has one. Flores, Tiedemann and Zulueta are catnip to the prospect community. Leiter could rehabilitate some public-eye value if he simply throws hard. Zulueta would be my bet to get the most helium, unless that’s Hunter Brown, who has been excellent in a tough pitching environment this season and looks ready for the big jump. Taj Bradley has allowed zero earned runs in his last four starts and should probably graduate to Triple-A after this game. His ERA May 3 is 0.84 with a 0.81 WHIP.

 

Catchers

Astros C Yainer Diaz (23, AAA)

Tigers C Dillon Dingler (23, AA) 

Athletics C Shea Langeliers (24, AAA)

I’ve never liked Dingler. I think it’s the name. I mean I’ve never met the dude. I probably would like him in person. I like most people, if I get to meet them. Just talking about fantasy baseball, though, he’s a free-agent-level prospect in a lot of dynasty formats. Same for Yainer Diaz, even though I do like him. Shea Langeliers should probably be rostered in dynasty leagues, but you’re not holding him to carry your club up the standings. He could really help in his best seasons, of course, but the topside is solid catcher. He’s pretty blocked at the moment, but Sean Murphy might get moved this month. 

 

Corner Infielders

Guardians 1B Jhonkensy Noel (20, AA) 

Royals 1B Nick Pratto (23, AAA) 

Rays 3B Curtis Mead (21, AAA) 

Mead gives us all green lights all the time so far. Noel’s been more of a mixed bag but still impressive in his youth, power, and burgeoning plate discipline. 

Pratto played his first game at Triple-A on July 20, 2021. He’s hit 38 home runs and stolen 13 bases in 137 games at the level, slashing .248/.371/.551 with 14.5% and 29.7% walk and strikeout rates. It’s not ideal, perhaps, but it’s been 41 percent better than league average. 

 

Middle Infielders 

Red Sox SS Ceddanne Rafaela (21, AA) 

Orioles SS Gunnar Henderson (21, AAA) 

Twins SS Spencer Steer (24, AAA) 

Yankees SS Anthony Volpe (21, AA) 

I sort of expect Rafaela to steal the show somehow. He’s just kind of electric. Well-built for the showcase type environment in that he likes to swing. Likes to steal. Can play everywhere so might play a lot in the scrimmage setting. 

Henderson has hit his first mini-skid of the season, slashing .139/.262/.167 with a 40.5 percent strikeout rate over his last ten games. The Sell-High window is wide open on this one for the daring. I’m not saying he’s not gonna hit. The trip and the mostly-for-fun showcase game environment with his peers could do him some good. We all need a mental break sometimes. I’m just never inclined to go all-in on the super-picky-almost-passive minor league hitters, and someone out there in your leagues probably wants Henderson enough right now to make an all-in type trade offer. 

 

Outfielders 

Guardians OF George Valera (21, AA) 

Rangers OF Dustin Harris (23, AA) 

White Sox OF Oscar Colas (23, AA) 

Athletics OF Denzel Clarke (22, A+)

Yankees OF Jasson Dominguez (19, A) 

Twins OF Matt Wallner (24, AA) 

Weird group here. I’d sell every single one of them in a dynasty league if they brought back something nice and near. Not that I don’t like them. I just don’t see a whole lot of runway for increases for anyone except maybe Colas and Dominguez, and they’re both already known enough to carry some weight in trade talks. Maybe Valera, too, but he’s got so many believers already that he’d have to blow the roof off to gain mind-share. 

 

National League 

Pitchers 

Atlanta LHP Jared Shuster (23, AA) 

Brewers LHP Antoine Kelly (22, A+)

Dodgers RHP Bobby Miller (23, AA) 

Giants LHP Kyle Harrison (20, AA) 

Marlins RHP Eury Perez (19, AA) 

Nationals RHP Cade Cavalli (23, AAA)

Phillies LHP Erik Miller (24, AA) 

Pirates RHP Mike Burrows (22, AAA) 

Reds LHP Andrew Abbott (23, AA) 

Nice reward for Erik Miller, a reliever who should join the team sometime down the stretch and might be promoted to Triple-A just after the game. Everyone else is probably known to most readers already, with the possible exception of Andrew Abbott, a 2nd round pick in last-year’s draft who dominated High-A but has surrendered a 1.46 WHIP in 50.2 innings at Double-A. Cavalli is pitching really well right now and would stand to make his debut this season if he weren’t marooned on the Nationals. Decent chance he opens next year in the rotation. Burrows, too, should be a rotation mainstay in 2023. Eury Perez should break training camp with the Marlins next year. I fear for the hitters facing him here when he gasses it up for just an inning. 

 

Catcher 

Dodgers C Diego Cartaya (20, A+)

Mets C Francisco Alvarez (20, AAA) 

Phillies C Logan O’Hoppe (22, AA)

Pirates C Henry Davis (22, AA)

After years of pretty boring catching crops, we’re currently being spoiled with wave after wave of impressive young backstop, partly because buscones recently realized it’s second only to shortstop as a path to professional contracts. 

With the Phillies one game out in the wild card race, O’Hoppe might be on the move this month and find himself in a much better situation for playing time. Good time to see if he’s available in any of your leagues.

 

Corner Infielders 

Mets 3B Mark Vientos (22, AAA) 

Cardinals 3B Jordan Walker (20, AA)

Dodgers 3B Miguel Vargas (22, AAA)

Vientos is striking out at a 31.7 percent clip. He’s young enough in Triple-A that it’s not a deal-breaker, but he’s always had some contact issues, and I’d be more likely to trade him away than try to acquire him at this point. 

Walker and Vargas could gain some serious heat in this game, as both are physically impressive guys with great hit tools. Could show out in BP for some taste-makers who haven’t seen them much. Both have gotten relatively light grades compared to their on-field skill sets, though Fangraphs did just bump Walker to a 60 after keeping him at 50 for a long time.  

 

Middle Infielders 

Nationals 2B Darren Baker (23, A+)

Cardinals SS Masyn Winn (20, AA) 

Reds SS Elly De La Cruz (20, A+)

Rockies SS Ezequiel Tovar (20, AA) 

Baker takes us back to the introduction: these rosters are an odd mosaic compiled by 30 different artists working with 30 unique tile-sets. Most teams like to send a pitcher and a hitter, and Washington chose not to send Jeremy De La Rosa, their only Named Guy on the hitting side, so Darren Baker gets his chance for a glow-up despite slugging .369 with a 94 wRC+ in 60 games. 

The other three in this group are Mon-Stars, built in a lab specifically to terrorize major league pitching. De La Cruz is on the shortlist for next top prospect. 

 

Outfielders 

Diamondbacks OF Corbin Carroll (21, AAA) 

Brewers OF Jackson Chourio (18, A) 

Cubs OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (20, A+)

Padres OF Robert Hassell III (20, A+)

Rockies OF Zac Veen (20, A+)

We finish up the article in Future-Star City. If the teams were taking batting practice in position groups, seeing this wrecking crew would be my priority. Everyone in the NL outfield is already a Named Guy, and they could all add another value bump or two before next season. 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

 

15 Comments
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Dom Cobb
Dom Cobb
2 months ago

Great piece as always. How would you compare Tovar to say, Vaughn Grissom?

Dom Cobb
Dom Cobb
Reply to  The Itch
2 months ago

Thanks for the in-depth response, much appreciated! Yes you hit the nail on the head, that even if Tovar gets the call, he may not have consistent playing time. Heck, the Rox signed McMcMahon to a 5/70 extension and he seems to be in a platoon of sorts. Thanks again!

Jimmy
Jimmy
2 months ago

Thanks Itch! Do you Oswald Peraza gets the call soon? Falefa is so mediocre and not even a terrific fielder!

Oddball Herrera
Oddball Herrera
2 months ago

It is interesting to read your take on Gunnar – I had always thought aggression would be one of the easiest adjustments to make – much more so than patience, GB/FB rate, pitch recognition, holes in your swing/zone coverage etc. Lack of aggression seems like one of the better problems to have!

The guy above I am most leery of right now is Volpe. We are about to find out through Ruiz just how well the gaudy SB numbers will translate to the majors w/ the different rule set. If Volpe translated to MLB is a 10-20 SB guy, he is looking more like a well rounded guy you appreciate having on your real life team rather than a star.

I am also not quite on the Elly bandwagon yet with that 30% K rate. The fantasy stats are ridiculous but there’s not a short list of guys who put up gaudy numbers in A ball with 30% K rates and didn’t turn out well. Haha, remember this guy

Oddball Herrera
Oddball Herrera
Reply to  The Itch
2 months ago

That is an interesting way to look at it – that you can just put your bat on your shoulder in the minors and run a great OBP but that won’t mean you will be an on base monster in the majors

I wish I could find advanced stats like SwStr and called strike % for minor league players because that would be interesting in a case like this

In other news we almost had our first Ruiz homer yesterday!

Jackson
Jackson
2 months ago

Hey Itch, I’m in a 12 team H2H 10×9 keeper league (40 man rosters—32 MLB and 8 MiLB but each year we keep 20 MLB and 8 MiLB and have a draft for the remaining spots). No $ or contracts. Hitting categories are: R H HR RBI SB BB K TB AVG OPS and pitching categories are: IP W QS SV+HLD HR K/9 K/BB ERA WHIP. I’m currently sitting in last place and making the top-6 playoffs is not very likely so I’ve turned my attention to building for next year and competing for the playoffs. My top keepers are Acuna, Tatis, Buehler, FPeralta, CJ Abrams, Edman, Mullins, JPena, JWalker, Tovar, and Gunnar. I received an offer from a playoff contender where I trade away Mullins, Freddy Peralta and CJ Abrams for Bryce Harper and Christopher Morel. I’m asking myself if I should move my 3 guys in return for Harper (who’s a no-doubt elite bat in our scoring format but will be 30 next year and is currently injured—but I don’t need him for this year so I’m banking on him being healthy next season). FYI, the other team doesn’t view Mullins as an annual 30/30 threat (his lack of power this year is heavily influencing his views) and he’s concerned about Freddy’s injury risk and so he wants Abrams included in the deal. Abrams has struggled this year but I’m still a big fan of his (although I recently saw on Twitter that CJ’s exit velocity figures are in Victor Robles territory which is concerning. He’s still so young but there’s a chance his power doesn’t develop). Is the deal fair for both sides or am I giving up too much?
I’m interested in your thoughts. Which side would you want in a keep forever league?

Rain
Rain
2 months ago

Hi Itch- Thanks for the article, look forward to all your stuff. A few questions. What position do you see Masyn Winn filling for the Cardinals and what would his timetable be- maybe late next season ? They have Gorman at 2nd and Edman at SS currently, but perhaps Gorman could play some DH. Also, what kind of reliever is Erik Miller- is he a high leverage closer type ? The Phillies seem to always be piecing together a bullpen- maybe it has been a little better since they removed Knebel as closer, but they always seem to struggle recently. Maybe Miller becomes the closer like Doval did for san Francisco for next season ? Also, any idea why Jordan Lawlar was promoted to High A and then was back in Low A last night after only about a week in High A ? Maybe something to do with having to be in the league to be in the all star game for that league (not sure if that is a thing) ? Surprised Elly De La Cruz is not in AA yet. Thanks again for all the time you put into your articles and the time you spend answering questions.

Philip
Philip
2 months ago

Thanks for the primer, Itch. Flores has my complete attention. I’d love to see him pitch. Have you?

Do you prefer to hold solid if not unspectacular NA guys like Arroyo, Burleson, Grissom, or do you prefer potential monsters like Bubba Chandler, Lazaro Montes, Anthony Gutierrez, Deyvison De Los Santos, or Alexander Ramirez?

I’m currently holding Grissom, Burleson, Arroyo, and Winn, and I don’t really need any of them anytime soon. Might be nice to get a speedy 2B/SS out of the group. But would it be better to grab higher upside dudes and hope to hit the lottery?

Thanks, homey!