At this point in time, no sports holds a candle to baseball’s minor league offerings. The NBA is on its way to recognizing the legitimate, world-class talent that take part in their minor league, the G League (it’s Gatorade), and football is certainly not and never will try to promote the proceedings of a practice squad.
Actually, they might.
But baseball has the numbers advantage of each team’s inherent structure. Beyond the 25-man roster and the extra bus full who make up the disabled list, each organization is hundreds of names deep.
(((It’s a lot. But you already know this.)))
The (sometimes) best and (sometimes) brightest get invited each summer to the All-Stars Futures Game at All-Star Weekend.
(((You know this, too.)))
2018 marks the 20th Futures Game and the United States squad will look to win number 13 —and eight of nine— over the World club.
(((Hopefully that was somewhat fresh.)))
Here are some numbers and nuggets about each player that hopefully are also fresh.
Guide: Name, Position*, Team, Level, John Sickels preseason Top 175 Prospects ranking
*positions played this year
Bo Bichette, 2B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays, AA, 5
Repeat Futures Game appearance for the non-Dante Jr. son of Dante, who is handling Double-A with ease. He’ll be 20 all season.
Forrest Whitley, SP, Houston Astros, AA, 8
Rocky start with a 50 game suspension, also doing well as a 20-year old in Double-A.
Mitch Keller, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates, AAA, 15
Recently made the jump to Triple-A after 14 starts in Double-A with a 1.12 WHIP.
Brendan Rodgers, 2B/3B/SS, Colorado Rockies, AA, 16
April update; currently at 16 home runs and 11 stolen bases for Hartford.
Hunter Greene, SP (exclusively for now), Cincinnati Reds, A, 18
Only pitching at the moment, has 77 strikeouts in 15 starts.
Kyle Wright, SP, Atlanta Braves, AA, 30
Leader of the next next wave of ATL arms, 2017 fifth overall pick battling some walk issues.
Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers, AA, 32
Perhaps the best bat in that draft, he hasn’t stopped hitting since being selected and is also answering some defensive questions.
Taylor Trammell, OF, Cincinnati Reds, A+, 39
Not as much success on the basepaths this season, but on good pace to test last season’s 13 homers.
Jo Adell, OF, Los Angeles Angels, A+, 41
A much happier Adell than Adele.
Matt Manning, SP, Detroit Tigers, A+, 44
Just called up to High-A; first start was one hit in five innings.
Dylan Cease, SP, Chicago White Sox, AA, 46
Regressed after deal from Cubs last summer, numbers looking more like pre-trade now.
Carter Kieboom, SS, Washington Nationals, AA, 55
Justus Sheffield, SP, New York Yankees, AAA, 67
Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Baltimore Orioles, AA, 87
Unless someone better comes along in trade, Baltimore is crossing their fingers for somewhat of a Manny Machado heir.
Dakota Hudson, SP, St. Louis Cardinals, AAA, 104
Knocking rather loudly on the big league door, could be any day now.
Kyle Lewis, OF, Seattle Mariners, A+, 116
Multiple knee injuries hopefully behind him, he’s having a solid year but not showing the lauded power (yet).
Danny Jansen, C, Toronto Blue Jays, AAA, 126
Might be the best catching prospect in baseball over the past two seasons.
Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins, A+
Lost 2017 to Tommy John, but is flexing superb hit tool in stellar return. Always glad to see players put big, ill-timed injuries behind them.
Buddy Reed, OF, San Diego Padres, A+
Building on exception Australian League performance over the winter. 33 steals this season but also 11 homers after 10 Down Under.
C.D. Pelham, RP, Texas Rangers, AA
33rd rounder in 2015 is the lowest draftee invited this year. Dominant in High-A before call-up to Frisco.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates, AA
Has hit his entire MiLB career, but steals down from 27 to six this season makes him a one-dimensional third baseman at the moment.
Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays, AA
First baseman hitting .350 this year across High-A and Double-A with 16 home runs.
Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets, AAA
Sean Murphy, C, Oakland A’s, AA
First round in Double-A last season wasn’t the greatest. Hitting .289 with eight homers there this season and has dibs on empty Oakland catching position.
Shaun Anderson, SP, San Francisco Giants, AA
A different Shawn from Sean, this is Shaun. Acquired from Boston for Eduardo Nuńez last trade deadline, has 91:21 K:BB ratio in first crack at Double-A.
Manager: Torii Hunter, Minnesota Twins Special Assistant to GM
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres, AA, 4
The top prospect in this year’s game, with fellow second generation star and organization mate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sidelined with injury.
He’s actually just played catcher and corner outfield in the minors, but Cleveland will eventually need to find him a spot or trade him.
Luis Urias, 2B/3B/SS, San Diego Padres, AAA, 37
A personal favorite, he’s moved all around the El Paso infield this year after splitting things almost even up the middle in 2017.
Jesus Sanchez, OF, Tampa Bay Rays, A+, 45
Still striking out a lot, but still racking up hits. Also still just 20.
Heliot Ramos, OF, San Francisco Giants, A, 57
Puerto Rican was nigh perfect after the draft last year at age 17 in Rookie ball. This year hasn’t been the same fairy tale, but 18-year old is holding his own in Low-A.
Yordan Alvarez, 1B/OF, Houston Astros, AA, 58
Minor hand injury didn’t stop him from getting bumped to Triple-A a few hours ago.
Leody Taveras, OF, Texas Rangers, A, 69
Thought it was Leodys for a good year.
Keibert Ruiz, C, Los Angeles Dodgers, AA, 75
Was the Double-A assignment too aggressive for the 19-year old? Least productive year to date, but damn good all things considered. Throwing out 32 percent of baserunners, as well.
Andres Gimenez, 2B/SS, New York Mets, A+, 82
Full-season jump has produced similar results, only better.
Jorge Guzman, SP, Miami Marlins, A+, 83
Friskier pocketbooks wasn’t the only thing Miami got for Giancarlo Stanton. Hard throwing, twice-traded pitching prospect is on the rise.
Jesus Luzardo, SP, Oakland A’s, AA, 113
Randy Arozarena, OF, St. Louis Cardinals, AAA, 132
A converted infielder, Arozarena is toolsy but stuck behind a plethora of other outfield prospects in the Cards system. Trade target for certain.
Bryan Mata, SP, Boston Red Sox, A+, 166
Limiting damage in High-A at 19, but has a wonky 56:55 K:BB rate in 66 innings.
Yusniel Diaz, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, AA, 170
Feels like the Cuban import has been a prospect forever, but only his third season stateside is going very well.
Alex Wells, SP, Baltimore Orioles, A+
Australian-born lefty has quietly dominated lower levels since signing in 2015. Curious to see how far he can get with a finesse arsenal in this velocity obsessed era.
Dawel Lugo, 2B/3B, Detroit Tigers, AAA
Enyel De Los Santos, SP, Philadelphia Phillies, AAA
Traded twice like Guzman, this is likely the last stop for De Los Santos until free agency.
Jesus Tinoco, SP, Colorado Rockies, AA
Kieran Lovegrove, RP, Cleveland Indians, AA
Obviously the best name in this year’s contest, the South African has gone from a struggling starter to a dominant reliever. Has a 1.38 ERA in 39 innings this season.
Lewis Thorpe, SP, Minnesota Twins, AA
Tommy John. Mono. A knee injury. Finally, the baseball gods are leaving Thorpe alone and after missing two complete seasons, he’s regaining stock as a top pitching prospect.
Luis Garcia, 2B, 3B, SS, Washington Nationals, A+
So, the Phillies have Luis Garcia the major league reliever, Luis Garcia the minor league shortstop and the Nationals have this Luis Garcia, minor league shortstop. The NL East is definitely on the up and up.
Luis Alexander Basabe, OF, Chicago White Sox, AA
The distant final piece behind prospect titans Yoan Moncada (2016 Futures Game MVP, a thank you) and Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander had 26 extra-base hits (nine homers, five triples) in High-A before his recent Double-A promotion.
Miguel Amaya, C/1B, Chicago Cubs, A
The Cubs have gutted their farm system over the past two trade deadlines, but the catcher from Panama has emerged as one of their new crown jewels. Carrying an even .800 OPS in Low-A South Bend with mature defense as a 19-year old.
Seuly Matias, OF, Kansas City Royals, A
Another farm system that has fallen behind, KC can’t cover it up with productive trades. Matias is the prototype prospect right now. Hitting just .219, he has clubbed 24 home runs. Another impressive stat: 103 strikeouts in 68 games. Not even Joey Gallo was this Joey Gallo, but Matias is still 19 and the power is noteworthy.
In 100 percent, complete honesty, I thought Yoan Lopez was a computer-generated rookie in MLB The Show last year and I would like to personally apologize to him and his family.
Another noteworthy Manager: David Ortiz, aka Big Papi, one of the good Fox Sports Analysts
Some final tallies:
Pre-season Ranked Sickels prospects:
U.S.A. - 17 (High: 5; Bichette)
World - 14 (High: 4; Tatis Jr.)
San Diego Padres (3; Tatis Jr., Luis Urias and Buddy Reed)