Back to the Future, a Remembrance of Futures Games past

This was supposed to be a fun exercise. I was lucky enough to attend the 2012 Futures Game held as part of the All-Star Game festivities at Kauffman Stadium. Five years on, what can we gain by a quick glance back?
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I remember a nice July afternoon (mid-80s) and enjoying the view from the best seats I have ever had at The K – the squishy seats right behind home plate that were usually out of my price range. I think I paid $40 for it on the secondary market.

Here’s the 2012 Futures Game recap video from with Pete McCarthy and Jonathan Mayo.

The World roster started out on fire, scoring four in the first three innings with homers by Jurickson Profar and Jae-Hoon Ha off of Jake Odorizzi and Gerrit Cole, then Danny Hultzen being singled to death in the third. The USA started its comeback in the bottom half of the third against former Dodgers farm hand Chris Reed, who for the purposes of the exhibition was apparently born in London UK. He gave the four runs back in a sloppy inning highlighted by a two-run Billy Hamilton triple. The USA tacked on two more in the bottom of the fourth with a Tommy Joseph double off of then Rays property Felipe Rivero.  The World got one back in the top of the sixth from an Oswaldo Arcia double off of Jameson Taillon, and it was 6-5 USA heading into the bottom of the sixth  when it all fell apart for the World Team. The USA plated nine off of then Angels reliever Ariel Pena and Julio Rodriguez of the Phillies.  Nick Castellanos capped the scoring with a three-run jack to center, taking home the 2012 Futures Game MVP award in the process. Here’s a shot I got that day of Kevin Goldstein scouting Castellanos before the game:
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Looking back at a couple other decent pictures I was able to get. One is Wil Myers’ first pitch at Kauffman Stadium, one of the USA team during introductions, and one of the World team.
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It is easy to cherry-pick the rosters and find today’s stars: Nolen Arenado, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, Francisco Lindor, and Jean Segura all got a hit in the game. And the misses: Mike Olt, Jonathan Singleton, Danny Hultzen.

In fact, the USA pitching staff probably deserves an essay all its own on the trials and tribulations of evaluating pitching prospects. On the plus side, ten of the eleven US pitchers on the roster have since pitched in the big leagues. While Taillon is shoving the best right now, Cole, Odorizzi, and late scratch Trevor Bauer have all thrown more than 600 IP in there still young careers. I’m not sure any of these USA team starters were worth the investment in any but the deepest of fantasy leagues, given the lackluster results. Cole’s 2015 is about the best case scenario among these arms, but that is only one year out of the 11 prospects’ combined last 55 seasons. TINSTAPP indeed.

But say, who is that on the world roster? Oh dear, and look. Crap. And one more. Are you kidding me? The World roster from the 2012 Futures Game removes all enjoyment from this review, as three of the most prominent names are Jose Fernandez, Yordano Ventura, and Oscar Taveras. Taveras had a hit and RBI on a SAC fly.  Ventura started the game, no doubt for the benefit of the hometown Royals fans, and hit 100 mph several times in his clean inning. He looked like a 14U kid before his growth spurt, but the gun don’t lie. Fernandez didn’t pitch. I don’t know anymore, I’m just a guy that went to see some exhibition baseball on a sunny afternoon in 2012. Hug someone, do some good, and enjoy the game on Sunday because we surely never know how things will turn out.

KC Shankland lives in Maple Valley, Washington. His Royals fandom runs from the Royals/Yankees blood feud of the ‘70s to Hosmer’s mad dash home.

‘People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. Obsess over prospects.’

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