All-Star Futures Game: How It Works
For fans watching the Futures Game for the first time, you'll notice the game is a bit different than the major league All-Star Game to be played Tuesday night.
First, the teams are based on where the players are from, rather than which league they play in. This has been the case since the inception of the Futures Game in 1999, and it emphasizes the true international influence on baseball, as the game draws talent from around the globe.
The game will also be seven innings long, regardless of the score. This is done chiefly to make sure that no undue strain is placed on the 10 pitchers selected for the game. The rest of each team's roster is made up of two catchers, five outfielders and eight infielders.
Many fans also wonder whether these are the 50 best prospects in baseball, and how the players are selected for the game. While these are 50 of the best prospects in baseball, not every top prospect can participate, based on various guidelines that are followed in selecting the rosters.
The rosters are selected by Baseball America and Major League Baseball in cooperation with the 30 major league teams. The process begins with the selection of three United States candidates and three World candidates from each major league organization.
Those lists are submitted to each major league club, which accepts or rejects the nominations. Clubs usually suggest alternates if they reject players.
While the only official limitation on the rosters is that players must be in full-season leagues, more advanced players have a better chance of playing in the game. So you'll usually see more players from Double-A and Triple-A levels in the game than you will from the Class A level.
Once the nominations are complete, the process of putting together the two 25-man rosters begins. This is like putting together a puzzle, as BA and MLB have to fill the position requirements for each roster, while making sure to represent every organization–but not selecting more than two players from any organization–and as many nations as is practical.
When the rosters are finally set, teams are notified and invitations are sent out to the 50 players. Then the real hard part begins: From the time the 50 original selections are made to the time the first pitch is thrown out, some of the original 50 will be promoted to the big leagues and others will be injured. It happens every year, to varying degrees.
Hall Of Fame Battery Leads Futures Squads
As impressive as the past Futures Game rosters have been, the people selected to manage those teams are even more impressive, with seven Hall of Famers among the elite group of skippers, including George Brett last year.
This year's duo adds to that prestige, with Gary Carter and Ferguson Jenkins taking the lead of the United States and World teams. Both recognize the fun of such as assignment, but both also hope the job advances their hope to get back in a big league dugout.
Jenkins, who was born in Ontario, spent 19 years in the big leagues and amassed 284 wins to go along with a 3.34 career ERA. He won 20 games in six consecutive seasons and was the 1971 National League Cy Young Award winner when he went 24-13 with a 2.77 ERA in 325 innings for the Cubs.
"I've had some very good coaching, guys like Leo Durocher and Billy Martin," said Jenkins, a 1991 inductee into the Hall of Fame who has served as a minor league pitching coach. "This will be an important part of it. And it will be fun seeing what these young men are capable of doing."
Carter is more familiar with the current crop of players because he has managed in the Mets system for the last two seasons and is now at high Class A St. Lucie.
"I'm very excited," Carter said. "To be asked to be a manager for some of the great prospects in the minor leagues is a tremendous honor. I'm very much looking forward to meeting up with the kids and looking forward to managing the game. I don't know how much the manager is a part of trying to win, but I will do my best to make sure the good ol' U.S. of A. comes out on top."
Carter sees the Futures Game as a great motivator for the prospects in the game.
"The carrot at the end of the string is if you know what it's like at the major league level–and they'll get a taste of it at PNC Park–that's what it's all about," Carter said. "There's no other better place to play. If you continue to work hard, play hard, do the little things, the opportunity will exist for you. This is what baseball is all about."
Jenkins said the opportunity for the players to get exposure to a larger audience is also good for both them and baseball in general.
"I think that's the No. 1 factor," Jenkins said. "These young men need exposure. This is their way of showing their talents to the world. Maybe these young men will be in the big leagues in a year or so. It's important for them to play well."
Jenkins and Carter will also get the chance to share a few stories about their own playing careers.
"I didn't face Fergie at the height of his career, but I do remember one incident," Carter said. "I hit a home run off of him at Wrigley Field. In my next at-bat, he hit me. In the old school, that's the way things were done.
"He's one of the greatest gentlemen in this game of baseball. We've become friends over the years. We're going to have a nice friendly game. It'll be a pleasure being in the dugout facing him. May the best team win."
7, U.S. 0
3, World 2
5, World 1
|Toby Hall, Devil
5, U.S. 1
3, World 2
4, World 3
|Aaron Hill, Blue
4, U.S. 0