KANSAS CITY–It's often hard to tell when your hometown team hasn't won a playoff game in 27 years, but Kansas City is a baseball town. And anyone arriving for this week's All-Star Game festivities finds that out very quickly.
In other cities, the All-Star Game and the events surrounding it are a big event. In Kansas City, it feels like THE event. Local sports talk stations are having debates about how loudly the Royals fans should boo American League home run derby captain Robinson Cano during the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game for leaving Billy Butler off the AL squad. When a line-drive high average hitter with a career high of 21 home runs being snubbed is a big story, you know that the town is taking things very seriously.
There will be no such controversies on Sunday at the Futures Game, which begins at 5 p.m. ET (ESPN). On the best day of the season for prospect watchers, Royals fans in attendance will have plenty of hometown heroes to cheer for. U.S. manager George Brett has already stated that Royals' outfield prospect Wil Myers will play the entire game in front of the fans of his future team. Royals pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi (U.S. team) and Yordano Ventura (World team) will be the starting pitchers.
By Saturday evening, top prospects from minor league teams all over the country were filtering into Kansas City in preparation. There's only one unexpected absence, as Yankees outfielder Tyler Austin had to skip the game because of a recently sustained concussion. His spot will not be replaced, as the U.S. team will play with four outfielders.
Four other players were added to the team earlier to replace recent callups and injuries. Diamondbacks lefty Tyler Skaggs will fill righthander Trevor Bauer's spot on the U.S. pitching staff after Bauer was called up to the majors. Tigers catcher Rob Brantly, one of the impressive pop-up prospects of 2012, fills in for Blue Jays catcher Travis D'Arnaud, out with a knee injury. On the World side, Angels righthander Ariel Pena replaced the called-up Edwar Cabrera and Padres catcher Ali Solis will replace fellow Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal because of Grandal's callup to the big leagues.
As usual, there will be a very healthy contingent of scouts at the game as well.
"It's useful," said an American League scout in town for the game. "You see guys on the big stage versus their top peers. You still want a longer look, but this can really help."
|US LINEUP||WORLD LINEUP|
|Billy Hamilton (Reds) SS||Jean Segura (Angels) 2B|
|Kolten Wong (Cardinals) 2B||Jurickson Profar (Rangers) SS|
|Wil Myers (Royals) RF||Oscar Taveras (Cardinals) RF|
|Mike Olt (Rangers) 3B||Alfredo Marte (Diamondbacks) LF|
|Jonathan Singleton (Astros) 1B||Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) DH|
|Michael Choice (A's) LF||Wilmer Flores (Mets) 3B|
|Nick Castellanos (Tigers) DH||Jesus Aguilar (Indians) 1B|
|Tommy Joseph (Giants) C||Jae-Hoon Ha (Cubs) CF|
|Anthony Gose (Blue Jays) CF||Christian Bethancourt (Braves) C|
And the projected pitching assigments:
|Jake Odorizzi (Royals)||Yordano Ventura (Royals)|
|Gerrit Cole (Pirates)||Jose Fernandez (Marlins)|
|Danny Hultzen (Mariners)||Julio Rodriguez (Phillies)|
|Dylan Bundy (Orioles)||Felipe Rivero (Rays)|
|Tyler Skaggs (Diamondbacks)||Kyle Lotzkar (Reds)|
|Jameson Taillon (Pirates)||Ariel Pena (Angels)|
|Taijuan Walker (Mariners)||Chris Reed (Dodgers)|
|Alex Meyer (Nationals)||Lisalberto Bonilla (Phillies)|
|Zack Wheeler (Mets)||Bruce Rondon (Tigers)|
|Swing man: Matt Barnes (Red Sox)||Swing Man: Enny Romero (Rays)|