See also: Futures Game Box Score
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The advance billing for the Futures Game centered around the pitching. Thirteen of the 20 hurlers selected for the midseason prospect classic were first- or supplemental first-round draft picks, including all 10 members of the pitching staff.
But it was the hitters who took center stage. The United States won in a 17-5 rout, scoring the most runs ever in the 14-year history of the event. The U.S. offense exploded for nine runs in the sixth inning, which matched the previous single-game record.
Thirteen different U.S. players collected hits in a 17-hit attack, with DH Nick Castellanos (Tigers) earning MVP honors by going 3-for-4 with a walk. He capped the sixth-inning outburst with a three-run homer off Julio Rodriguez (Phillies), a 406-foot blast to center field.
Castellanos was visibly moved after the game when Bradford Horn, senior director of communications and education for the Baseball of Hall of Fame, came to collect his bat for the museum.
“That’s probably the coolest thing ever,” Castellanos said. “That’s right up there with performing in this game. I don’t think I’ve even taken it in yet that the bat I used today is going to Cooperstown. I went Cooperstown when I was 12. The names that are in Cooperstown, and my bat’s going to be in Cooperstown? That’s really cool.”
For all of the offense generated, the United States provided the two most crucial plays of the game with its defense and baserunning in the third inning.
The World took an early 3-0 lead on a solo homer in the first from Jurickson Profar (Rangers) off Jake Odorizzi (Royals), and a two-run, opposite-field blast in the second from Jae-Hoon Ha (Cubs) off 2011 No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole (Pirates) in the second. The World didn’t let up in the third against last year’s No. 2 overall choice, Danny Hultzen (Mariners), putting runners on the corners with leadoff singles from Jean Segura (Angels) and Profar.
Oscar Taveras (Cardinals) then scorched a shot to deep center field. Center fielder Anthony Gose (Blue Jays) showed off his plus-plus speed by running the ball down and making a diving catch, turning what looked like a sure extra-base hit into merely a sacrifice fly. Hultzen escaped without further damage.
“Anthony saved my butt on that one,” Hultzen said. “When Tavares hit it, I thought, ‘Oh, my God. I’m going to get yanked.’ After that, I was able to bear down.”
In the bottom half, the United States got on the scoreboard when Billy Hamilton (Reds) provided a two-run triple off Chris Reed (Dodgers). Kolten Wong (Cardinals) followed with a comebacker to Reed, who looked Hamilton back to third base but rushed his throw to first, apparently worried that the minors’ fastest player would try to score. Wong raced to third on the error and scored on a groundout by Wil Myers (Royals).
“He kept watching me the whole time,” Hamilton said. “A few times this year when a pitcher has given me one look, I’ve gone. I saw he had gotten so close to first base, so I thought I’d better stay at third.”
The United States never trailed again and took the lead for good on an RBI double from Tommy Joseph (Giants) in the fourth, scoring an additional run on the play thanks to an errant throw by Tavares. It salted the game away with its sixth-inning barrage, doing most of the damage against Ariel Pena (Angels).
Pena, a late addition to the roster after the Rockies promoted Edwar Cabrera to the majors, gave up seven hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly to the nine hitters he faced. He showed a 94-95 mph fastball and a willingness to mix in a changeup, but he didn’t fool anyone.
Though the pitchers didn’t dominate as much as expected, several did stand out. Yordano Ventura (Royals) hit 100 mph three times and needed just 11 pitches to work a perfect first inning. Cole also reached triple digits. Bruce Rondon (Tigers) won radar-gun honors by throwing 102 mph on his first pitch in the eighth and then firing three consecutive 101-mph fastballs to Scooter Gennett (Brewers).
The U.S. pitching staff settled down after Dylan Bundy (Orioles) got through a dicey fourth inning without allowing a run despite surrendering three hits. Tyler Skaggs (Diamondbacks) threw three pitches for strikes while breezing through the fifth inning. Taijuan Walker (Mariners), Alex Meyer (Nationals), Zack Wheeler (Mets) and Matt Barnes (Red Sox) all worked in the mid- to upper 90s while retiring nine of the last 10 World batters.
Kansas City turned out for the Futures Game like no city had before, with most of the Kauffman Stadium seats filled and an announced attendance of 40,095. With that atmosphere and the talent on hand, it felt more like a major league game than an exhibition for minor league prospects.
“It was unbelievable,” Hultzen said. “It’s one of the more fun experiences I’ve ever had. I definitely felt like I was in the big leagues. We all did.”