06/21/2004 1:46 AM ET
Futures Game rosters announced
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
|Brewers prospect Rickie Weeks was named to the U.S. team. (Morry Gash/AP)
2004 Futures Game rosters
2004 Futures Game announcement: 350K
The Future has arrived, or at least its participants have.
Rosters for the sixth annual New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game were announced on Monday in the first MLB All-Star Futures Game Selection Show, a live webcast on MLB.com.
The game, which features the top minor league prospects in a United States-vs.-World formattted exhibition, will take place at Houston's Minute Maid Park on Sunday, July 11, two days prior to the 75th All-Star Game to be played there.
"It's an unbelievable honor," Mets third base prospect David Wright said on the selection show after being named to the U.S. team. "I watch the game every year.
"My buddy played in the first one -- Michael Cuddyer [of the Twins] -- and we talked about how great it is."
Twenty-five-man rosters for both the U.S. and World teams were selected by Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the 30 Major League clubs and Baseball America. Each Major League organization is represented and the World team features players from six countries -- the Dominican Republic, Canada, Venezuela, South Korea, Colombia and Mexico -- and Puerto Rico.
Players from all full-season minor leagues were eligible to participate. Goose Gossage will manage the U.S. team and Fernando Valenzuela will pilot the World team.
Eight of the players in this year's game competed in last year's contest at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, while two prospects participated in the 2002 game in Milwaukee's Miller Park.
The greatest depth might be at third base, where the U.S. team has Wright and Angels prospect Dallas McPherson, while the World team has Andy Marte (Braves) and Edwin Encarnacion (Reds). Other top prospects include B.J. Upton, who's just about ready to join the Devil Rays, Prince Fielder (Brewers), Rickie Weeks (Brewers), Jeff Francis (Rockies) and Justin Morneau (Twins).
The Futures Game this year is pretty young, especially in terms of baseball experience. Several participants were 2003 draft picks, including the top four selections last year: Delmon Young (No. 1 overall pick, Devil Rays), Weeks (No. 2, Brewers), Kyle Sleeth (No. 3, Tigers), Tim Stauffer (No. 4, Padres), Michael Aubrey (No. 11, Indians) and Conor Jackson (No. 19, Diamondbacks).
Those participating in this year's contest should know they're joining a select group. There are 94 Futures Game alumni currently in the Major Leagues. A dozen players who have competed in the previous five Futures Games have gone on to participate in a Major League All-Star Game:
|Player||Team||Position||All-Star Game||Futures Game|
|Mark Buehrle||Chicago (AL)||P||2002||2000|
"It's great to be mentioned with those guys," said Wright, who recently was promoted to Triple-A. "I'm sure there's going to be some nervous excitement, but hopefully I won't be shaking too bad."
The ultimate goal for all of these players is to make it to the big leagues. Seven 2004 Futures Gamers have already tasted Major League life: Weeks, Morneau, the Tigers' Wil Ledezma, Royals shortstop Andres Blanco, Humberto Quintero of the Padres, Dodgers catcher Koyie Hill and the White Sox's Arnie Munoz.
Morneau might have the most interesting travel plans over the next several weeks. He'll be going to Houston for the Futures Game, returning to Rochester, N.Y., to play for the Twins' Triple-A club, then going to Athens, Greece, to represent Canada in the Olympics. The only thing that could keep that from happening is if he gets promoted to the Majors.
"It's great for the players to get that kind of exposure and to play against some of the best competition in the world," said Padres general manager Kevin Towers, a member of the committee that helped select this year's rosters. "It's great these players get that type of exposure and I know they're better players when they get back to their respective [organizations]."
The New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game will be seven innings long, regardless of the score. Players and coaches will be outfitted in special New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game jerseys and will wear the caps of their Major League organization with a New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game logo embroidered on the side. Four minor league umpires will work the game.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.