07/10/09 9:53 AM ET
Futures shine brightest on MLB.com
Enjoy unparalleled coverage of the game's rising stars
By Lisa Winston / MLB.com
The 11th annual XM All-Star Futures Game, pitting the best Minor League prospects from the United States against the best from the rest of the World, will be held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET/1 CT.
It should come as no surprise that MLB.com will be your one-stop shop for all things Futures, since the site provides unparalleled coverage of baseball's biggest prospect-related game.
With the five-day FanFest kicking off at America's Center on Friday, MLB.com will be there to bring you highlights of the event from the point of view of Futures Game hometown favorite and top St. Louis Cardinals prospect Brett Wallace.
Wallace, the Cards' first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State, will be playing for the U.S. Team on Sunday, but on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET/2:30 CT, he'll be at FanFest getting to know his soon-to-be home fans and sharing the day with MLB.com.
Of course, the heart and soul of the coverage will be the Futures Game itself on Sunday. MLB.com will provide complete coverage before, during and after the game, which can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD, and followed live on Gameday -- the animated pitch-by-pitch function that gives you games at your fingertips.
This year's game will be a nine-inning affair for just the third time in the history of the event, giving you even more of a chance to watch the hitters and pitchers, many of whom will soon become big league stars.
And thanks to MLB.com, you'll even be able to interact with players in the dugouts while the game is going on, courtesy of MLB.com writers stationed on each bench, laptops in hand. They'll get the thoughts of U.S. and World Team members throughout batting practice and the game. How that's done, however, is completely new.
This year's coverage will add another innovative twist: Twitter. The popular social networking site was a key factor in MLB.com's First-Year Player Draft coverage last month, an event that resulted in record traffic over the Draft's three days. Leading up to and during the Draft, you could follow and even "tweet" with MLB.com journalists and several top Draft picks themselves, including first-round picks such as pitchers Drew Storen (No. 10 to the Nationals) and Eric Arnett (No. 26 to the Brewers). During Draft day, Draft-related tweets showed up in a widget on the Draft Tracker application on MLB.com.
Now the Futures Game is following suit, with reporters and experts weighing in. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayoB3) will be tweeting all weekend, and further expert analysis will come from the folks at Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica).
There will be a Twitter widget up and running in the Gameday application on Sunday, and you can make sure your own observations are included by using the hash tag #MLBFutures on your posts. All things Futures Game can be followed @MLBFutures. During the game, MLB.com's dugout reporters will tweet on player's reactions.
In terms of player involvement, you don't have to wait until Sunday, as yet another first-round pick has joined the fold to Twitter away while the festivities take place. Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Jarrod Parker, the club's top pick in 2007, is among the participants who will be tweeting, and you can sign up now to start following him @JarrodBParker.
Joining Parker will be fellow U.S. pitcher and Padres prospect Mat Latos, who can be followed @MatLatos. On the World side, representing the Reds and Curacao, will be right-hander J.C. Sulbaran. Tweet along with him @JCSulbaran.
After the game, be sure to check early and often for a slew of postgame interviews as well as video that will be available on the site.
One of the most popular staples of that feature coverage has been the clips highlighting Futures Game participants who agree to wear microphones during the pregame events so you can get real first-hand chatter and reactions to the day's goings-on. This year, look for features on Pirates third base prospect Pedro Alvarez for the U.S. Team and World Team infielders Alex Liddi (Seattle) and Pedro Baez (Dodgers).
Add that to the notebooks, game stories, columns, photo galleries and other interviews, and it's clear that the future has never been brighter. And it's only on MLB.com.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.