At the Ballpark: Behind the Scenes at 2023 Futures Game

Futures Game, T-Mobile Park, July 8, 2023. Photo credit Michael Kelley.

I was fortunate enough to head out to Seattle and take in the sights surrounding the 2023 edition of the MLB Futures Game and MLB Draft. I had never been to Seattle before, so the trip checked a box that I had been looking forward to checking for quite some time. The weather was very cooperative during my stay, with high temperatures in the upper 70’s, maybe ticking upward to 80 a time or two. One morning, Seattle presented me with their trademark light mist, but that only lasted an hour or so.

On the day of the Futures Game, I took the light rail from downtown southbound towards T-Mobile Park. Upon arrival, I was surprised to realize that the stadium is completely open air, despite having a roof covering available. I had presumed the roof structure was similar to stadiums like Chase Field in Arizona and Minute Maid Park in Houston, in that it would be fully attached to the structure itself. With no rain present, I did not get to experience the playing conditions with a closed roof.

As a credentialed member of the media, the activity leading up to the game is possibly more exciting than the actual game itself. One highlight is getting to go into each respective locker room to meet and talk with the players before they take the field for batting practice. We started with the American League, setting up camp in the same locker room that the Mariners use. It’s well appointed, as one would suspect. Outside of Mariners prospects Harry Ford and Jonatan Clase, Jackson Holliday garnered the most attention. That attention is well-deserved as he’s widely viewed as the top prospect currently in the minors. Growing up in a household where your father is a famous baseball player himself, I could tell that Holliday fully understands the demands on his time by those that cover this great game. Not only is he a great player, but he was genuinely kind and considerate, which bodes well for his future as a potential face of baseball.

I spent a few minutes with Joey Cantillo, who is currently a starting pitcher in the Cleveland Guardians organization, playing for Triple-A Columbus. We discussed the trade that sent him from San Diego to Cleveland, with Mike Clevinger as the headliner heading west. He stated that being traded to a new organization was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed him to work with different coaches to learn some new things about better utilization of his body, allowing him to throw a bit harder. He praised the organization for being data driven, and then being able to break down the data and present it to the pitching staff in a way that will benefit them. He’s holding his own this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the rotation as early as 2024. The pitching pipeline headed to Cleveland remains strong.

After spending time with the American League, we moved over to the National League side. The visitor’s clubhouse is considerably smaller, which made it a bit more difficult to move around. I enjoyed talking with Noelvi Marte and Jordan Lawlar the most. As our Padres writer, Alex Sanchez, can attest, Lawlar could not have been more kind or considerate. He made it a point to ask how my day was going, which helped generate more of a conversation rather than an interview session of me asking him questions. It certainly felt like Marte was the brightest star in the room. He doesn’t have a look-at-me type of persona, but his presence just simply radiates throughout the room.

I also made it a point to catch up with Jacob Misiorowski for a bit. Misiorowski was a 2nd round draft pick by the Brewers from Crowder College, which is a junior college not far from where I live. I asked him about the challenge of going from a small school through the minors and ending up as a selection to the Futures Game. He credited fellow Brewer, Aaron Ashby, who attended Crowder as well, stating that he was able to pick his brain some, as he had already been down that path. With some improvement in his command, Misiorowski has the stuff and frame to be at least a #2/#3 type of starter with a possibility of turning into an ace.

From the locker room visits, the attention turned to what was taking place on the field. I only got to see the tail end of American League batting practice but was able to take in the entire National League session. Watching the power stroke of James Wood, it’s pretty easy to see that he has nearly effortless plus power. There will be some swing and miss in his game, but when he barrels the ball, it simply flies off the bat. It looked to me that Marte had a great approach in the cage. He wasn’t selling out to put on a power display and was working on spraying the ball all over the diamond. Towards the end of his session, he started hitting with more authority, sending several balls over the fence in the left field power alley. Pete Crow-Armstrong looks like a doubles machine, with the ability to stretch some into triples with his speed.

The game itself was a bit underwhelming, as both pitching staffs dominated the offense for a majority of the game. It’s a shame that MLB continues to make the game only 7 innings long, which forces managers to make earlier substitutions in order to get as many players in as possible. I do prefer the current format of American League versus National League, rather than the USA versus the World format previously used.

As far as the stadium itself goes, T-Mobile Park does a great job of providing a good variety of different food options outside of what you would typically think of getting at a ballgame. Gluten free options, Chinese food and gourmet toast such as Nutella banana toast are all possible options for those that want to experience something different. Upon reflection, I would definitely take my family out to the Pacific Northwest to take in the tourist sights and catch a Mariners game or two. If you haven’t been there, I’d recommend moving it up your list of ballparks to visit!

Born in Arizona. Raised in the Midwest, and with lots of baseball. When I’m not writing about baseball or purchasing my next baseball card, I can be seen coasting down the highway to yet another travel baseball tournament with my wife and son. I love the Braves, bat flips and outfield assists.

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