06/18/2004 5:12 PM ET
Futures Game predictions
Rosters to be announced Monday, June 21 on MLB.com
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
The baseball community won't know for certain who will be attending the New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game until Monday, June 21, but some people can't wait that long.
|Milwaukee first-base prospect Prince Fielder (left) and second-base phenom Rickie Weeks will both be on hand for the Futures Game. (Scott Paulus/Brewers)
For those people, here's a projected lineup for the US and World Teams for the minor league exhibition which will be played on All-Star Sunday at Minute Maid Park in Houston on July 11 at 4 p.m. ET (broadcast live on ESPN2 and MLB.com Radio).
Remember to watch the Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game Selection Show, free on MLB.com, on Monday at noon ET. Print this out and see how close this reporter came to predicting the actual prospects named to the game.
And that's all this is, a prediction. The people actually selecting the rosters for the game have to worry about having all 30 Major League organizations represented as well as finding World Team members from as many countries as possible. Freed from such conditions, the following is simply who I believe should be on the team:
(all stats through June 17)
C Jeff Mathis, Angels, Double-A
Playing for Arkansas, Mathis has hit .283 with nine homers and 36 RBIs and could be ready to replace either Molina in 2005.
1B Prince Fielder, Brewers, Double-A
The 2002 first-rounder has been up and down in the Southern League, but he's still hitting .272 with 12 homers.
2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers, Double-A
It's just Weeks' first full year of pro ball, and there's been an adjustment, but there's no question about the talent.
SS BJ Upton, Devil Rays, Triple-A
Hopefully, the Rays don't bring him up to the big club before the Futures Game, though you couldn't blame them. All he's done is hit .317 since a promotion to Triple-A after hitting .327 in Double-A.
3B David Wright, Mets, Triple-A
Another guy who's only obstacle could be a big-league callup. After hitting .363 with 10 HR, 40 RBIs and 20 SB in 60 Double-A games, Wright has begun life in Triple-A by going 7-for-14. That gives him the edge at a very deep position.
OF Jason Kubel, Twins, Triple-A
You have to keep honoring guys who excel post-promotion. Kubel is hitting .351 with eight SB in 27 Triple-A games after starting the year by hitting .377 with Double-A New Britain.
OF Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks, High-A
Yeah, it's his first full year. So what? The guy is hitting .340 with 11 HR and 53 RBIs in the High-A California League. And someone from the high-octane Lancaster team (also featuring Carlos Quentin and Jamie D'Antona).
OF Jeremy Reed, White Sox, Triple-A
Only in his second full year, Reed is at the highest minor-league level. Even though his numbers are down from last year's insane output, he's still one of the top OF prospects in the game.
DH Dallas McPherson, Angels, Double-A
All McPherson is doing is leading the Texas League in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage and extra-base hits all while hitting .320 (eighth). He's got 26 RBIs in his first 16 games this June.
P Joe Blanton, A's, Double-A
The next Rich Harden? Harden started last year's Futures Game for the World Team, then went straight to join the A's. Blanton may have to wait a bit for that call, but he's deserving of the Futures Game honor.
P Gavin Floyd, Phillies, Double-A
I was going to go with fellow Phillie farmhand Cole Hamels in this spot, but when he hit the DL, Floyd got the nod for a repeat appearance (2003). Being second in the Eastern League with a 2.34 ERA made it an easy call.
P Matt Cain, Giants, High-A
Still only 19, Cain is second in the California League in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
P Dan Haren, Cardinals, Triple-A
Haren certainly hasn't sulked over not being in St. Louis. He's 8-2 with a 3.49 ERA and leads the PCL with 96 strikeouts.
P Mike Hinckley, Expos, Double-A
Some in the know call him the best lefty no one knows about, and for good reason. Hinckley went 6-2 with a 2.61 ERA in the FSL before he got promoted. He's been better up a level, with a 1.78 in four starts with Harrisburg.
C Dioner Navarro, Yankees, Double-A
The 20-year-old future replacement for Jorge Posada is hitting .290 with 29 RBIs in his first full season of Double-A life. He could be backing up in the Bronx by next year.
1B Justin Morneau, Twins, Triple-A
Free Justin Morneau! He should be competing for AL Rookie of the Year, not a Futures Game spot. Even with being in the bigs for a while, he's still second in the IL in home runs with 16 and has driven in 46 runs in 52 games.
2B Robinson Cano, Yankees, Double-A
Can you Cano? The 21-year-old has to the tune of a .296 average with 38 RBIs for Double-A Trenton.
SS Jose Lopez, Mariners, Triple-A
One of the youngest players at the Triple-A level at 20, Lopez has more than held his own in the PCL. His 11 HR already are just two off the career high he set a year ago.
3B Andy Marte, Braves, Double-A
An injury slowed him early, but the 20-year-old RBI machine exploded with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in May to get back on track in the Southern League. A recent ankle sprain isn't serious enough to keep him away from this game.
OF Freddy Guzman, Padres, Double-A
The speedy 23-year-old outfielder recently got promoted to Triple-A after hitting .283 and swiping 17 bases with Double-A Portland. He's hit .316 since moving up and has gone 15-for-16 on the basepaths of the PCL.
OF Felix Pie, Cubs, High-A
This will be a second helping of Pie at the Futures Game. The 19-year-old is seventh in the FSL with his .313 average and has 14 steals to boot.
OF Franklin Gutierrez, Indians, Double-A
The red-hot Gutierrez is making the Milton Bradley deal a good one for the Indians. He's seventh in the Eastern League with a .315 average, helped by a .362 mark so far this June.
DH Edwin Encarnacion, Reds, Double-A
Encarnacion, playing Double-A ball at age 21 (and hitting .283 with 34 RBIs despite a recent slump), can always fill in at third if Marte can't go.
P Jeff Francis, Rockies, Double-A
Francis just lost his first game of the season. Still, the big lefty is a good bet to be the second consecutive Canadian to start the Futures Game for the World Team. He leads the Texas League in wins (10), ERA (2.03) and strikeouts (114) while holding hitters to a .187 average and walking just 18 in 93 innings pitched.
P Merkin Valdez, Giants, High-A
He's only been back a short while, but Valdez is already back on track with San Jose in the California League. Over three starts spanning 15.1 innings pitched, he's walked just one and struckout 19. Now that's a nice ratio.
P Felix Hernandez, Mariners, High-A
The fact that he just turned 18 in April makes the fact that Hernandez leads the California League in strikeouts, is tied for second in wins and stands fourth in ERA all the more impressive.
P Jose Capellan, Braves, Double-A
Capellan's triple-digit heat almost landed him in Atlanta's bullpen. He used it to utterly dominate the Carolina League (5-1, 1.94 ERA, 11 BB, 62 K in 46.1 IP, .168 batting average against) and earn a promotion to Double-A, where he's racked up 27 strikeouts against three walks in 16.1 innings pitched.
P Angel Guzman, Cubs, High-A/Ervin Santana, Angels, Double-A
I call this the coming-back-from-injury spot. It's unlikely either team will let these future aces attend, but this is my wish list. Guzman has 35 K's and zero (that's right, zero, walks) in 24.2 innings of FSL work. Santana, pitching for Double-A Arkansas, has 45 K's against 11 walks in 37.2 IP.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.