Futures Game Alumni All-Star Team

A look at what an all-star team composed of Futures Game alumni might look like

WHEN: July 9, 4 p.m. ET
WHERE: Pittsburgh, PA
FORMAT: U.S. vs. World, seven innings
RESULT: U.S. 8 World 5
MVP: Billy Butler
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Will Lingo: July 7
Chris Kline: July 6
We sure like to boast about the emerging talent on display at the annual Futures Game, but how good would a team composed only of Futures Game alumni really be? Could it compete with a real major league all-star team? Take a look:


Joe Mauer, 23, Twins
The first player taken in the 2001 draft (ahead of Mark Prior and Mark Teixeira) and two times Baseball America's No. 1 prospect in baseball, Mauer is quite simply The Natural. Hitting .390 will get you noticed, but it's not the only area where Mauer excels. He's nabbed 39 percent of basestealers this season, the fourth-best mark in baseball, and has accumulated just six fewer extra-base hits in the first half than he did all of last season.
Distinctions: 2006 AL All-Star
MLB Career (3 seasons): .326/.399/.473

Victor Martinez, 27, Indians
The switch-hitting Martinez won the Indians' everyday catching job at age 25 and hasn't looked back, though his contributions can sometimes be overlooked because he does so many things well. As the club's five-hitter, Martinez hits .300 annually with 20 home runs, 30 doubles and 60 walks. And he strikes out about as often as he walks, too.
Distinctions: 2004 AL All-Star
MLB Career (5 seasons): .296/.366/.466

Others considered: Dioner Navarro, Russell Martin


Lance Berkman, 30, Astros
Original Futures Gamer has been one of the NL's most consistent power hitters since busting onto the scene in 2001. The switch-hitting Berkman is the rare slugger who can hit for average and power and still show a discerning eye at the plate. Very quietly, he's been in the thick of three MVP races.
Distinctions: 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006 NL All-Star; 3rd place in 2002 NL MVP vote; 5th place in 2001 NL MVP vote; 7th place in 2004 NL MVP vote
MLB Career (8 seasons): .303 /.415/.563 with 1,042 hits, 204 home runs, 243 doubles and 635 walks

Others considered: Nick Johnson, Justin Morneau


Alfonso Soriano, 30, Nationals
He's a left fielder now, and he played shortstop in the first Futures Game (in which he was named MVP), but it's second base where Soriano has made his mark in the majors, so that's where we're putting him. Nobody in the majors has his package of raw power and speed, and three times Soriano has compiled 30 home runs and 30 steals in the same season.
Distinctions: 1999 Futures Game MVP; 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 AL All-Star, 2006 NL All-Star, 3rd place in 2002 AL MVP vote
MLB Career (8 seasons): .279/.321/.505 with 1,002 hits, 188 home runs, 189 stolen bases and 216 doubles

Others considered: Marcus Giles, Chase Utley, Rickie Weeks, Adam Kennedy


Rafael Furcal, 28, Dodgers
Another signature member of the inaugural Futures Game, Fucal led off and played shortstop for six Braves division-winning teams. He has topped 40 stolen bases in two different seasons and might be headed there again this season.
Distinctions: 2000 NL Rookie of the Year, 2003 NL All-Star
MLB Career (7 seasons): .282/.346/.402 with 1,011 hits, 171 doubles, 40 triples and 206 stolen bases

Others considered: Khalil Greene, Jose Lopez, Jose Castillo


David Wright, 23, Mets
One of baseball's most exciting and charismatic young stars, it's hard to find anything Wright can't do. He hits for average, hits for power to all fields, runs the bases effectively and fields his position. In his first full season, he exceeded a .300 average, 25 homers, 100 RBIs, 40 doubles, 70 walks and 15 steals. He didn't top 100 runs scored, though. He finished with 99.
Distinctions: 2006 NL All-Star
MLB Career (3 seasons): .307/.377/.537

Others considered: Hank Blalock, Aramis Ramirez


Ryan Howard, 26, Philllies
You could make a strong case for Blalock or Ramirez with this spot, but then you'd be ignoring that Howard might be the National League's preeminent power hitter. He's on pace for 50 home runs this season after cranking 22 in half a season's work last year, and he's managed to top .280 both years, despite an equally-high strikeout rate.
Distinctions: 2005 NL Rookie of the Year; 2006 NL All-Star
MLB Career (3 seasons): .287/.353/.585


Jose Reyes, 23, Mets
What Howard is to power, Reyes is to speed. Reyes has made strides as a bad-ball hitter this season, which is bad news for opponents because once he starts running he seldom stops. He led the NL in triples and steals last season and is on pace to do the same this year. Leading off for the Mets might enable him to add a runs scored title this season.
Distinctions: 2002 Futures Game MVP; 2006 NL All-Star
MLB Career (4 seasons): .283/.316/.415 with 34 triples and 129 stolen bases


Adam Dunn, 26, Reds
He's seemingly been hitting home runs for so long, it's easy to forget Dunn will likely have more than 200 before turning 27 this November. Two of the most similar batters to Dunn--Darryl Strawberry and Reggie Jackson--had 186 and 157 through their age 26 seasons, which were coincidentally their first six seasons, also.
Distinctions: 2002 NL All-Star
MLB Career (6 seasons): .247/.382/.521 with 184 home runs, 141 doubles and 526 walks


Grady Sizemore, 23, Indians
Much like Wright, Sizemore seemed to emerge from the minors with few flaws. Whereas the Mets weaned Wright by batting him further down in the lineup, the Indians immediately cast Sizemore as their leadoff hitter and everyday center fielder. He's responded by becoming precisely the player they envisioned.
Distinctions: 2003 Futures Game MVP; 2006 AL All-Star
MLB Career (3 seasons): .288/.356/.493


Miguel Cabrera, 23, Marlins
Though he's the same age as Sizemore and Wright, Cabrera has more than one full season's worth of experience on them. And his accomplishments at a young age are stunning: World Series champion (with a home run off Roger Clemens for good measure), three straight All-Star selections in three seasons as a regular and a top-five MVP finish.
Distinctions: 2004, 2005, 2006 NL All-Star, 5th place in 2005 NL MVP vote
MLB Career (4 seasons): .307/.378/.531 with 91 home runs


Carl Crawford, 24, Devil Rays
Crawford has seen his average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage improve a little in each season he's been a regular. If trends hold, he could be in line for a few MVP-caliber seasons in his prime. Factor in his blazing speed--Crawford is annually among the AL leaders in triples and stolen bases--and he's a natural choice for this, or any, team.
Distinctions: 2004 AL All-Star
MLB Career (5 seasons): .293/.325/.433 with 56 triples and 198 stolen bases

Vernon Wells, 27, Blue Jays
So much was expected of Wells that it's easy to view him as a mild disappointment. But in fact, Wells is a top-flight center fielder who's just now entering his prime. And for good measure he's left his contemporary five-tool Futures Game outfielders in the dust. Corey Patterson and Josh Hamilton were both once more highly regarded or considered on par with Wells.
Distinctions: 2003, 2006 AL All-Star; 2004, 2005 AL Gold Glove; 8th place in 2003 AL MVP vote
MLB Career (8 seasons): .288/.336/.493 with 844 hits, 129 home runs and 181 doubles

Others considered: Alex Rios, Brad Wilkerson, Wily Mo Pena


Josh Beckett, 26, Red Sox
Amazing what a dominant postseason can do for one's reputation. Beckett has the unquestioned stuff to lead this staff, and in 2005 he came closest to having that season--winning 15 games and posting his second-best ERA--we've been expecting since he was drafted No. 2 overall. Now that he's a member of the Red Sox, his chances of adding to his postseason resume--that's two shutouts in five starts--would seem to be greatly increased.
Distinctions: 2003 World Series MVP
MLB Career (6 seasons): 51-38, 3.62 in 713 innings with 695-257 strikeouts-walks

C.C. Sabathia, 25, Indians
The great, overlooked young pitcher. Still just 25, Sabathia already has 75 wins and hasn't yet hit his stride. Sabathia has twice won 15 or more in a season and has never recorded an ERA higher than 4.39 of his rookie season. Despite impressive fastball velocity and some strong strikeout seasons, Sabathia's calling card has been his ability to limit baserunners and keep the ball in the park.
Distinctions: 2003, 2004 AL All-Star
MLB Career (6 seasons): 75-49, 4.08 in 1,053 innings with 835-406 strikeouts-walks

Barry Zito, 28, Athletics
He gets the most attention for his 2002 Cy Young Award, but Zito's among the most durable pitchers in baseball, having never made fewer than 34 starts or tossed fewer than 213 innings in any of his full seasons. Over that span he's ranked top five in the AL strikeouts five times, while going up against the likes of Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Johan Santana.
Distinctions: 2002 AL Cy Young, 2002, 2003, 2006 AL All-Star
MLB Career (7 seasons): 94-58, 3.48 in 1,327 innings with 1,033-517 strikeouts-walks

Mark Buehrle, 27, White Sox
Maybe the most unassuming ace in the majors, Buehrle never has won fewer than 14 games in any of his full seasons or posted an ERA above 4.14. He led the AL in innings in both 2004 and 2005, and won two of his three postseason starts in the latter. And he's done it all despite pitching his home games at US Cellular, which is notoriously friendly for righthanded power hitters.
Distinctions: 2002, 2005, 2006 AL All-Star; 5th place in 2005 Cy Young vote
MLB Career (4 seasons): 94-58, 3.65 in 1,341 innings with 781-308 strikeouts-walks

Ben Sheets, 27, Brewers
A very close call because of Sheet's injury trouble the past two seasons, but he gets the nod because of his Curt Schilling impersonation in 2004 (2.70 ERA, 264 strikeouts, 32 walks), which might be the most dominating single season of any pitcher to appear in a Futures Game. And the tie-breaker, of course, is and always will be Sheets' contributions to Team USA's gold medal-winning effort in 2000.
Distinctions: 2001, 2004 NL All-Star, 8th place in 2004 NL Cy Young
MLB Career (6 seasons): 56-65, 3.89 in 1,003 innings with 854-219 strikeouts-walks

Others considered: A.J. Burnett, Brad Penny, Mark Mulder, Rich Harden, Jeff Francis
In a few seasons, perhaps: Francisco Liriano, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander


B.J. Ryan, 30, Blue Jays
Through his first six seasons, Ryan had played for two organizations and had compiled just six saves, but he's since made up for lost time. Even by short reliever standards, Ryan allows a miniscule number of walks and home runs, which coupled with his strong strikeout rate make him one of baseball's elite closers. Fun stat: From 2003 through this season, lefthanded batters have managed just .148 off Ryan, with four homers and six doubles in 305 at-bats.
Distinctions: 2005, 2006 AL All-Star
MLB Career (8 seasons): 65-of-83 saves, 3.28 ERA in 423 innings with 517-204 strikeouts-walks

Francisco Rodriguez, 24, Angels
Teams seem to be more willing to entrust their ninth innings to young fireballers since K-Rod broke onto the scene in the 2002 postseason. The Venezuelan righty with the funky delivery and unhittable slider may have helped pave the way for the likes of Chad Cordero, Huston Street, Brad Lidge, Bobby Jenks and Jonathan Papelbon.
Distinctions: 2004 AL All-Star, 4th place in 2004 AL Cy Young vote
MLB Career (5 seasons): 78-of-96 saves, 2.53 ERA in 278 innings with 367-112 strikeouts-walks

Others considered: Francisco Cordero, Bobby Jenks, Neal Cotts