See also: Box Score
ST. LOUIS—The 11th annual Futures Game weathered its first-ever rain delay, but made up for it with impressive displays of speed on the bases and radar guns, not to mention a final-inning comeback.
The World team built a four-run rally in the top of the seventh around three doubles and two misplays by U.S. defenders, rallying for a 7-5 victory after squandering an early 3-0 lead. Outfielder Rene Tosoni (Twins) earned the game’s MVP award with a go-ahead pinch-double against Brad Lincoln (Pirates).
Originally scheduled for nine innings, the game was trimmed to seven after a four-hour, nine-minute rain delay after the World scored two runs in the top of the first. The shortened affair meant that Tosoni almost didn’t get a chance to play.
“I didn’t even think I was getting into the game until we got a couple more runs on,” said Tosoni, who has come back from a 2008 season abbreviated by a broken bone in his left foot to hit .278 with 10 homers at Double-A New Britain this year. “I got ready, I was standing in the dugout with my bat and my batting gloves on ready to hit.”
“It’s awesome. I don’t even have words to explain it.”
The World’s comeback started against Trevor Reckling (Angels), who surrendered a leadoff double to Brett Lawrie (Brewers). Starlin Castro (Cubs) followed by beating out an infield hit, with Lawrie scoring and Castro taking second on a wild pitch. Reckling induced Pedro Baez (Dodgers) to ground out and Alcides Escobar (Brewers) followed with a chopper up the middle.
U.S. second baseman Jemile Weeks (Athletics) gloved the ball, but made an errant flip to shortstop Danny Espinosa (Nationals) in an attempt to keep Castro, the tying run, at third base. As the ball rolled away, Castro scored and Escobar took second.
Reckling struck out Tyson Gillies (Mariners) looking on a curveball to preserve the tie, then gave way to Lincoln. Tosoni ripped Lincoln’s second pitch, a 94-mph fastball, off the glove of defensively challenged first baseman Chris Carter (A’s) for the go-ahead run. Dayan Viciedo (White Sox) followed with another RBI double and Carlos Santana (Indians) walked before Lincoln caught a soft pop-up from K.D. Kang (Rays) to end the inning.
Tosoni was the MVP, but the breakout player of the game was Gillies, who’s having a breakout season by batting .327/.435/.472 with 23 steals at high Class A High Desert. Gillies beat out a bunt single and stole two bases (including one after being picked off) before scoring a run, and he ended the game by snaring Weeks’ hard line drive in deep center. He showed his top-of-the-line speed by racing to first base in 3.4 seconds on the bunt.
“He was almost like Jacoby Ellsbury for me, a lefthanded leadoff hitter with the speed to make things happen,” said a scout with a National League club. “He’s a high-energy guy who just seems like he does everything right. Looking at what he did in High Desert, the way that park is friendly to hitters, I was skeptical. But seeing him here had me pretty excited. I can’t think of any major leaguers who could run that time from home to first on a drag bunt.”
Besides Gillies, some of the minor leagues’ other top speedsters showed their speed on the bases. Desmond Jennings (Rays) stole three bases while Luis Durango (Padres) swiped one and was barely thrown out at third base by Jason Castro (Astros) on another attempt.
Eric Young Jr.’s (Rockies) 48 steals this season led all Futures Gamers, but he played against type by turning on a 97-mph fastball from Francisco Samuel (Cardinals) and homering deep to right-center to lead off the third inning. Jason Castro hit the game’s other homer, a three-run blast off a curveball from Luis Perez (Blue Jays) in the bottom of the fifth, giving the United States a 5-3 advantage.
Several pitchers stood out as well. Junichi Tazawa (Red Sox) was slated to start the game for the World, but Neftali Feliez (Rangers) replaced him after the lengthy rain delay. Feliz’ first pitch was 97 mph, he struck out Young and Jennings on 100-mph fastballs and hit 101 during a 10-pitch walk to Brett Wallace (Cardinals). He ended the most impressive pitching inning by breaking Carter’s bat on a weak liner back to the mound.
Kyle Drabek (Phillies) continued his impressive comeback from Tommy John surgery by needing just 10 pitches to retire the World in order in the second inning, touching 96 mph and also showing a plus curveball and solid changeup. Converted outfielder Leyson Septimo (Diamondbacks) rescued Samuel from a jam in the third, striking out Chris Heisey (Reds) on an 85-mph slider and Tyler Flowers (White Sox) on a 95-mph fastball.
Jhoulys Chacin (Rockies) showed a nice changeup and curveball in the fourth inning, striking out Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Desmond Jennings (Rays). In his final pitching appearance of the season before becoming a full-time shortstop, Casey Kelly (Red Sox) worked a perfect sixth, requiring just eight pitches and recording all three outs on 93-94 mph fastballs. Kelly heads to Fort Myers on Monday to begin his conversion to playing shortstop for the second half of the season.