YORK – The Futures Game is a sort of the professional version of
the Perfect Game All-American Classic, but the players are further up
in the developmental process. You don’t get to see too much of any
one player, but you get to see tools in spurts. The Futures Game
gives fans the opportunity to see some of their favorite club’s top
year, 23 players in the game were PG alumni, seven of which had
previously participated in the Perfect Game All-American Classic,
meaning that PG events also provide fans with the opportunity to see
the game’s top prospects on a national stage before they establish
themselves in the Major Leagues.
storylines at the Futures Game are limitless. Throughout the day I
gathered as much information as possible, and what follows is a
collection of interesting facts and scouting notes.
Diego Padres catching prospect and 2010 PG All-American Austin
Hedges was very impressive, both on and off the field. Early in
the game he threw out a runner attempting to steal second with a 1.84
pop time. Hedges has a lightning-quick transfer, and he threw a
bullet to second. He was 0-for-2 at the plate, but he showed
above-average bat speed and a fluid swing at the plate. He’s long
been praised for his generational talent behind home plate, and he’s
felt somewhat disrespected at the plate.
definitely still think my defense overshadows my offense a little
bit, but I think I’m starting to get a little more respect as a
hitter,” said Hedges. “Which is nice because I’ve been working
my butt off for a long time now to try to get my hitting as good as
my defense and try to get my offense and defense both to the highest
level I can get them.”
noted improvements that he’s made as a game-caller. Former big
league catchers AJ Hinch and Brad Ausmus work in San Diego’s player
development system, and Hedges said that having those players around
has been huge.
I’m maybe struggling even physically with something, just pick
their brain about what they did or what they did to get out of a
slump,” added Hedges. “They've been extremely helpful to get me
where I am now.”
Red Sox right-hander Anthony Ranaudo may have struggled in the
game, but he has re-established himself as a top prospect this
season. Once in consideration as a possible No. 1 overall pick for
the 2010 draft, injuries got in the way of this first-round pick out
of LSU. Now, he’s back to snapping his plus 12-to-6 curveball and
getting strong downhill plane on his 96 mph fastball.
in the games, I’m able to focus on competing,” Ranaudo said of
his improvement this year. “You know, what do I need to do in game
situations and stuff like that, rather than worrying about my health,
worrying about my fatigue, worrying about my velocity, or anything
like that. Now I just feel good. I have confidence and I’m going
out there and trying to take it pitch by pitch and things have turned
around for me.”
Boston Red Sox organization is chock full of pitching prospects at
the upper levels. Brandon Workman, Drake Britton, and Matt Barnes are
just three of the top arms that joined Ranaudo at Double-A Portland
a lot of fun,” Ranaudo said of playing with so many other talented
players. “The good thing about it is all the guys in our system are
pretty close. We’re a good group of guys and everything and we’re
pretty good friends. There’s no hostility or anything and it’s
good competition, knowing that if we all do what we’re capable of
doing, things will take care of (themselves).”
a casual conversation before the game, Peter Gammons raised the point
that Boston could break in some of its arms in the bullpen. Each
hurler’s stuff could work in a starting rotation, and the thought
of each of them letting loose for one or two innings is pretty scary.
Cole, who participated in the 2009 PG All-American Classic, has
had an interesting couple of years. After a strong year in his first
full season with the Washington Nationals, Cole was the centerpiece
of the deal that sent Gio Gonzalez to the nation’s capital. He
spent a year developing in the Oakland A’s organization before he
was traded again, back to the Nationals.
cool thing is you get to meet other people and see how other people
play,” Cole said of his experience being traded back-and-forth. “I
got another part of baseball in the Cal League, you know. They say
it’s not a pitcher’s league—and I feel like it’s not, it’s
a hitter’s league—but you learn how to pitch there and even
though my stuff didn’t always show, I actually learned from that
described it as a strange process, but thinks it was good for his
development. He’s also back with a coaching staff that knows him
and could develop a strong developmental plan for him, which makes
the transition that much easier.
21-year-old’s point about the California League is a very good one.
As primarily a strikeout/flyout pitcher, Cole would elevate his stuff
and get high swings and misses or fly ball outs. In the Cal League,
where balls escape the ballparks quickly, Cole was forced to work
lower in the zone and add another weapon to his arsenal.
Futures Game is an outstanding event, and the raw talent at the game
was incredible. The event gives players a glimpse of what baseball’s
biggest stage feels like, and many of the players will find
themselves performing on that stage in the very near future.