As we all know by now, the 2021 MLB All-Star Game is coming to Coors Field. The relocation has brought unexpected enthusiasm to baseball fans in Denver and figures to be one of the brightest spots of the season for fans in the Rocky Mountain region.
The game itself is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the event calendar, though. From July 11-14, fans will have the opportunity to check out convention events, the Celebrity All-Star Softball Game and Home Run Derby. This will also mark the first occasion where the MLB First-Year Player Draft will be held during All-Star weekend, giving Colorado the honor of hosting the inaugural format.
But there’s one other part of the festivities that closely relates to the draft: the All-Star Futures Game. This event has become a staple activity for the league since it began in 1999 and gives fans the opportunity to catch a glimpse of impact players on the precipice of breaking into the major league ranks.
Ben Petrick (1999) was the first Rockies farmhand to appear in the game and Ben Bowden (2019) was the team’s latest participant. However, it has also once hosted other top Colorado talents such as Brendan Rodgers (2017 and 2018), Ryan McMahon (2017), Trevor Story (2015), Nolan Arenado (2011 and 2012), Carlos González (2006 and 2007) and Troy Tulowitzki (2006).
The game was originally structured in a USA vs. World matchup, however in 2019 it was switched to a National League vs. American League format, matching the major league game and assigning players according to their parent organization.
Today, let’s look ahead to some of the players we may have the privilege to watch before they reach the game’s highest level. Instead of trying to list entire rosters for each squad, I’ll be listing one player at each position that I’d like to see in the game.
Additionally, I am also going to select players that will likely still be eligible for the game. So, while players like Wander Franco, Jarred Kelenic, Bobby Witt Jr. and Mackenzie Gore are absolutely the type of elite talents that we’d crave to see, there is a good chance each will be called up to the big leagues before the middle of July. Finally, I’ll be discussing players using a 20 to 80 scouting grade scale.
So, with the ground rules out of the way, let’s take a look at the list:
Pitcher: Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds
It’s unfortunate Greene hasn’t arrived on the major league scene yet. The second selection of the 2017 draft, the right-hander has long stood out among evaluators with his blistering 80-grade fastball and power-pitcher arsenal. 105 mph fastballs are real, and I want to see one.
Here’s a video of Greene courtesy of mlb.com:
Catcher: Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles
Second player in and I may already be breaking my own rule. Rutschman is likely to reach the major leagues this season, however an end-of-season promotion feels more realistic. A former first overall pick, Rutschman is one of the most complete prospects in draft history. He is the most prized catching prospect since Joe Mauer and seems destined to become the next best catcher in baseball. Players like Rutschman don’t come around very often.
Here’s a video of Rutschman courtesy of mlb.com:
First Base: Spencer Torkelson, Detroit Tigers
Another first overall pick, Torkelson’s 70-grade in-game power is prestigious and easily made him the top amateur player available last year. In a few short years, when we are discussing possible MLB Home Run Derby participants, expect Torkelson’s name to be in the conversation.
Here’s a video of Torkelson courtesy of Pac-12 Networks:
Second Base: Nick Gonzales, Pittsburgh Pirates
Like Torkelson, Gonzales was a first round pick in the 2020 draft. The New Mexico State alum is well known in scouting circles for his great hitting tools and projects to be a productive major leaguer. His defense is still coming around, however it’s not crazy to think the polished Gonzales could turn into one of the best second baseman in baseball in the mid-2020s.
Here’s a video of Gonzales courtesy of Prospects Live:
Third Base: Nolan Gorman, St. Louis Cardinals
Power is the name of the game for Gorman. A first round high school pick in the 2018 draft and still young at 20 years-old, Gorman’s 60-grade power has played well in the A-ball ranks so far in his young career and seems to be the ticket that will get him to the major league level in the next few seasons.
Here’s a video of Gorman courtesy of Baseball Prospect Highlights:
Shortstop: Marco Luciano, San Francisco Giants
An international signing out of the Dominican Republic, Luciano possesses some of the most electric tools in the minors. His elite bat speed and powerful arm strength could make him a rare type of impact player that could immediately jump into the top one hundred players in baseball once he is ready for the majors.
Here’s a video of Luciano courtesy of Baseball America:
Outfielder: Julio Rodríguez, Seattle Mariners
Rodríguez is as close to a “five tool player” as it gets. Showings of tremendous power, speed and defense have been the foundation of Rodríguez’s rise into the top five of most prospect rankings. At 20-years-old, Rodríguez is one of the most dynamic players in the minor league ranks and can easily become one of the biggest stars in baseball once he reaches the next level.
Here’s a video of Rodríguez courtesy of the Seattle Mariners:
Outfielder: Jasson Dominguez, New York Yankees
Dominguez is like a present sitting under the tree for baseball fans, except Christmas morning is still three days away. You know whatever is in there is awesome and the wait to finally see it is agonizing. An 18-year-old switch hitter who has been on the prospect radar for years, Dominguez’s potential has drawn some lotfy comparisons despite the fact he has yet to play a minor league game. Everyone is waiting to see what he can do in pro ball this year, and we may get a front row seat to the action.
Here’s a video of Dominguez courtesy of Baseball America:
Outfielder: Zac Veen, Colorado Rockies
Lastly, our boy. Veen was considered by many to be the top prep bat in the 2020 draft and the Rockies were able to nab him with the ninth overall pick. A smooth, 60-grade left-handed swing with plenty of offensive projectability, Veen’s bat fits a future middle-of-the-order profile. He also has the athleticism to possibly stick at centerfield or become a premium corner outfielder.
Here’s a video of Veen courtesy of Prospect Pipeline:
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Thomas Harding breaks down Jon Gray’s spectacular performance in the final game of the first homestand. Despite a dip in velocity, Gray leaned on his slider all afternoon to hold the Diamondbacks hitless into the seventh inning.
Following Nolan Arenado’s dramatic go-ahead home run in the eighth inning of the Cardinals 2020 home-opener, some controversy swirled around the third baseman and the last years of his time in Colorado. From stating the moment gave him his first curtain call to the previous dialog between he and Adam Wainwright to grease the wheels on a trade to St. Louis, former Purple Row managing editor Bryan Kilpatrick unpacks the drama from Thursday evening.
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