I have seen the future, and it is good.
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MLB held its SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Target Field, an official kickoff to the All-Star Game festivities that will take place over the next few days. The game is an exciting event for fans who want to see their team's next big thing, but it's also a chance for fantasy owners to glimpse the future stars of their game.
And the stars were out in full effect. The low-scoring affair highlighted the quantity and quality of arms that currently populate the minor leagues, as both the World and U.S. rosters showed off some of tomorrow's frontline starters. On the World side, it was the likes of Jose Berrios, who got the start in front of his organization's home crowd, and Julio Urias, the 17-year-old Dodgers phenom who's holding his own in High-A ball.
For the U.S., a murderer's row of first-round draft picks including Hunter Harvey, Alex Meyer, Lucas Giolito, Braden Shipley, Robert Stephenson and Noah Syndergaard held the World team to just two runs. Giolito, the pitcher with arguably the most upside of them all, was the one to serve up a two-run blast to Javier Baez. Syndergaard, who with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler will be a big part of the Mets' future, earned the save in the U.S. team's 3-2 win.
And while the pitching took center stage, the teams also fielded their share of position player prospects as well. The rosters included many names found near the top of prospect lists, with Baez, Kris Bryant, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Maikel Franco and Hunter Renfroe on display under the lights.
But it was Rangers prospect Joey Gallo who took home the MVP trophy. The third baseman hit a two-run home run that proved to be the difference in the game. It's not surprising that Gallo would provide some pop, as he's got 31 home runs and a .307/.434/.703 line in the minor leagues this season.
Gallo has hit a lot of home runs, but he said he won't forget this one any time soon.
"This one is definitely the most memorable one," Gallo told MLB.com. "To do it in front of 37,000 people is crazy."
Gallo's power, J.P. Crawford's speed and a slew of pitchers' fastballs will be on display shortly. For now, though, Sunday's exhibition served to whet the appetite of baseball fans and fantasy players alike.
Byrd On The Wing?
In some news that could have implications for this season, the Mariners are said to be pursuing a deal for Marlon Byrd.
Byrd is in the first year of a two-year, $16 million deal he signed this winter that now looks like a bargain. The 36-year-old is hitting .263/.315/.479 with 18 home runs and 54 RBI, both among the best in the National League.
The Mariners were said to be scouting Byrd earlier in the week, and Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times said Sunday that the team has engaged the Phillies in trade talks. The Mariners are among the teams on Byrd's limited no-trade list, but Divish said he's reportedly willing to waive the clause for the M's.
Despite being a step down in home park, a move from the Phillies to the Mariners would benefit Byrd from a fantasy perspective. Byrd would likely be sandwiched in the cleanup spot between left-handed hitters Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, an infinitely better situation than hitting behind Ryan Howard and ahead of Domonic Brown as he does now.
The Mariners have plenty of outfield candidates to lose out on playing time in that scenario -- at this point, only James Jones' job seems truly safe. The disappointing Dustin Ackley seems as good a choice as any to find a reserve role should the M's acquire Byrd or another outfielder in the coming weeks.
A Byrd deal would likely be just the first in what could be an active few weeks for Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro and staff. Jonathan Papelbon has already expressed his openness to being dealt elsewhere, and names like Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley will likely be thrown around as well.
Tis the season for trade rumors, and it should be a fun couple of weeks at the rumor mill.
A couple southpaws received rude greetings in their returns from the disabled list on Sunday.
After dominating in his last rehab start, Francisco Liriano was wild in a loss to the Reds. The left-hander gave up just three hits but walked six on the afternoon, exiting after four innings. It was a disappointing end to a frustrating first half for Liriano, who heads into the break with a 1-7 record and 4.72 ERA.
Things were even worse in Colorado, where Brett Anderson, making his first start in three months, allowed five runs in the first inning in a loss to the Twins. The Twins jumped on Anderson for 10 hits on the afternoon, as the lefty fell to 0-3 through four starts. Anderson is better than his effort Sunday would suggest, but Coors Field has made better pitchers look worse. It may be a long second half for Anderson.
National League Quick Hits: The Braves suspended Dan Uggla one game, with the rumored reason being tardiness. There was previous speculation that Uggla was going to be designated for assignment by the Braves, so either way it appears Tommy La Stella's playing time is going nowhere but up ... Hyun-Jin Ryu struck out 10 over six shutout innings in a win over the Padres. It was a strong showing after he allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings his last time out ... Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner each hit a grand slam in the Giants' win over the Diamondbacks. Of those, Posey's was the more surprising -- Bumgarner's was already his second this season ... Chris Johnson had his second strong showing in as many days on Sunday, driving in three and scoring three times against the Cubs. The third baseman hit a home run, his third in the past two games, among his three hits ... Todd Frazier ended his first half the same way he began it -- on fire. He hit his 19th homer of the season in Sunday's win, and with 14 stolen bases Frazier has a real shot at being the most recent -- and most surprising -- player to join the 20/20 club.
American League Quick Hits: After being hit in the face with a pitch during Saturday's game, Collin Cowgill will miss four-to-five weeks with a nasal fracture and a small fracture in his right thumb. Cowgill's absence further solidifies Kole Calhoun's starting job ... The A's activated Drew Pomeranz from the 15-day disabled list and promptly optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento. Pomeranz deserves better -- he's 5-4 with a 2.91 ERA over 55 2/3 innings this year -- and he may eventually take Jesse Chavez' place in the A's rotation ... Brian Dozier put on a show on Sunday, belting two home runs and driving in four in a win over the Rockies. Dozier leads all American League players with 69 runs scored at the break ... Mike Trout drove in four runs with a pair of doubles in a win. Trout has 73 RBI, good for third-best in the AL ... Brock Holt had five hits, including a leadoff home run, in a one-sided affair with the Astros. The 26-year-old has come out of nowhere to bat .327/.371/.463 this year for the Red Sox ... Clay Buchholz partied like it's 2013 on Sunday, throwing a three-hit shutout against the Astros. In fact, in many ways it was better than his 2013 form -- Buchholz struck out 12 batters in the win, something he failed to do in his 12-1 season.