Hometown Heroes Power U.S.

U.S. crushes World 9-1 in Futures Game






See also: Box Score


ANAHEIM—In the biggest offensive explosion in Futures Game history, the United States thumped the World 9-1 Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium. Hometown heroes provided much of the offense, as Angels catcher Hank Conger drilled a three-run homer in the fifth inning and Angels center fielder Mike Trout hit the first of three consecutive U.S. doubles with two out in the eighth.

Conger became the first player to win the Futures Game MVP award while playing in his parent club's ballpark. His blast came on a 96-mph fastball from Blue Jays righthander Henderson Alvarez.

"This, to be honest, does not feel real," Conger said. "It's just so much adrenaline. It's an unbelievable feeling. I'll never forget this in my life."

Mike Trout
The youngest player in the game at age 18, Trout electrified the crowd with his speed. He reached twice on errors, beat out an infield hit and turned what would have been a single into the right-center gap for most players into a double in the eighth.

Scouts clocked him in 3.9 seconds from the right side of the plate to first base on his infield hit and he also covered ground effortlessly in center field. The minor league leader with 45 stolen bases, he did get caught stealing when he tested Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario in the third inning.

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer also helped power the U.S. attack, going 4-for-5 with a double, two runs and an RBI.

The U.S. pitching was nearly as impressive as its offense. While the World had 10 hits, only twice did it string together multiple hits in an inning and it advanced only five runners into scoring position.

Rays righthander Jeremy Hellickson set the tone by working the first two innings for the win. Though he gave up a run in the second, he required just 25 pitches to get six outs, worked at 92-95 mph with his fastball and struck out Reds first baseman Yonder Alonso on a changeup.

With almost any other club, Hellickson would have spent the day as a member of a big league rotation rather than as a Futures Gamer. He has gone 11-2, 2.21 with 104 strikeouts in 106 innings at Triple-A Durham this year, but there are no openings in Tampa Bay.

"It's obvious that we've got the best rotation in baseball right now," Hellickson said. "There's not too much I can do about it but try to stay consistent and do my best. We'd all love to be in the big leagues, but being here in a big league stadium playing in a game that matters is the next best thing,"

Nine U.S. pitchers combined to blank the World for seven innings after Hellickson departed, with Zach Britton (Orioles) and Mike Minor (Braves) among the most impressive. Britton has the best sinker in the minors, and he also showed a 95-96 mph four-seam fastball. Minor worked a perfect fourth, touching 94 mph with his fastball and using his slider and changeup to record all three outs.

Tanner Scheppers (Rangers) got the final two outs of the game, hitting 99 mph four times and never dipping under 97 with his fastball.

The World team played a sloppy game, committing four errors that led to six unearned runs, striking out just two U.S. batters and going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. But they did provide a few highlights.

Outfielders Carlos Peguero (Mariners) and Eury Perez (Nationals) had two hits each. Catcher Wilin Rosario (Rockies) not only threw out Trout, but he also picked Brett Jackson (Cubs) off first base. Gorkys Hernandez (Pirates) made the defensive play of the game, catching a Logan Morrison (Marlins) drive up against the wall in center field in the sixth.

Julio Teheran
On the mound, Yankees righthander Hector Noesi threw harder than advertised (92-94 mph) without sacrificing his trademark command. Though Braves righthander Julio Teheran struggled with his location, he didn't throw a fastball under 95 mph, used his changeup for strikes and froze Desmond Jennings (Rays) with a 96-mph heater for a strikeout.

Those World highlights were few and far between, however. The U.S. victory was the most lopsided in Futures Game history, surpassing the inaugural game in 1999, a 7-0 World win.

"We had a lot of talent on this team, and I feel like I've played with or against everyone in here except for maybe three or four guys before this game," U.S. third baseman Mike Moustakas (Royals) said. "There were only a couple of guys here I didn't know, and that made it a lot of fun to play. The great part was that all the guys who were here really deserved to be here. We had a great team."