Constructing 2020 Futures Game Rosters With 60-man Player Pool Prospects
Right before the season was shut down, Baseball America attempted to predict what this year’s Futures Game rosters might look like. Then the pandemic struck, and the sports world shut down, taking the Futures Game (and just about everything else) with it.
In a normal world, the Futures Game would be this coming Sunday. In that spirit, we went ahead and constructed two potential rosters ... but with a small twist. Instead of using any prospect from all 30 organizations, the only players who are eligible are those who were named to their team’s player pool.
So, while we’d love to see, say, Yankees outfielder Jasson Dominguez in the game, he wasn’t named to the player pool, so he’s not eligible for this exercise.
Otherwise, we stuck to the normal guidelines of AL versus NL and no more than two players per organization. The lone exception was the Dodgers, who got three players because they were scheduled to host all-star weekend.
Here’s what we came up with.
RHP — Clarke Schmidt (NYY)
The best pitching prospect in the Yankees’ system, Schmidt had a breakout season in 2019 and could make his big league debut this season. He has the makings of at least two plus pitches—fastball and changeup—and could get there with his breaking ball as well.
RHP — Deivi Garcia (NYY)
Garcia was neck and neck with Clarke Schmidt for the title of the best pitching prospect in the Yankees’ system, and he was dominant for most of 2019 until running into a bit of a hiccup at Triple-A. Garcia added a slider in 2019, and the pitch quickly became one of his best weapons.
RHP — Nate Pearson (TOR)
In a normal season, Pearson likely wouldn’t be available for the Futures Game because he’d be busy in the big leagues. Instead, he’ll have to wait a little longer. In this theoretical scenario, he’d suit up for the Futures Game again and get another chance to show why he’s among the game’s best pitching prospects.
RHP — Casey Mize (DET)
Mize had one of the best starts to the 2019 season. He mowed through high Class A Lakeland, then threw a nine-inning no-hitter in his Double-A debut. He continued cruising through the Eastern League until a bout of shoulder soreness shelved him. He wasn’t quite the same when he returned, but is ready to go in 2020.
LHP — Daniel Lynch (KC)
Amid an enviable pack of college-pedigreed pitching prospects, Lynch reigns supreme. The lefthander’s fastball has made huge gains since he turned pro, and he was particularly impressive during last year’s Arizona Fall League. Scouts believe he has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.
RHP — Jhoan Duran (MIN)
One of the prizes the Twins landed from Arizona in the Eduardo Escobar deal, Duran throws the minor leagues’ most interesting pitch—a splitter-sinker hybrid that consistently stymies hitters. The big righthander blitzed his way to Double-A in 2019 and could make his big league debut out of the bullpen in a frenzied 2020 season.
RHP — Forrest Whitley (HOU)
The 2019 season was supposed to be Whitley’s coming out party. Instead, after a ferocious 2018 season, the tall righty ran into trouble at nearly every stop. He looked to have righted the ship in the Arizona Fall League and could find himself pitching in Houston this season as the Astros look to make the most of a severely truncated schedule.
RHP — Luis Garcia (HOU)
Velocity could be found up and down the Astros’ system in 2019, and Garcia was one of its prime purveyors. He struck out 168 in 108.2 innings in 2019 between both Class A levels through the use of a 92-97 mph fastball, a nasty changeup and two breaking pitches. He could jump onto the national radar in this kind of setting.
RHP — DeMarcus Evans (TEX)
Evans was one of the sport’s most dominant relievers in 2019. He was the only pitcher in the minor leagues to whiff 100 or more hitters in 60 or fewer innings, and allowed just 23 hits in the process. He gets a tremendous amount of swings and misses on his 92-96 mph fastball, particularly when he throws it up in the zone.
RHP — Dane Dunning (CWS)
Dunning is coming off of Tommy John surgery, but he was healthy enough for the White Sox to add him to their player pool. If he were ready, he’d be extremely interesting to watch at this year’s installment of the annual minor league showcase.
C — Sam Huff (TEX)
The reigning Futures Game MVP should provide plenty of power (as the world learned last year) as well as more than enough defensive chops to stick behind the plate. Yes, he’s bigger than many catchers, but he’s also very athletic and has a strong arm.
C — Ryan Jeffers (MIN)
Jeffers is one of the sneakiest prospects in the game. He’s overshadowed in a system topped by Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, but Jeffers was one of just 23 players in the Florida State League to hit double-digit home runs, one of just four of those players to do so in 80 or fewer games and the only one of those four to do so while playing a position other than first base.
C — Alejandro Kirk (TOR)
Kirk has risen in Toronto’s system after hitting everywhere he’s been. He’s incredibly difficult to strike out (just 39 strikeouts in 310 at-bats in 2019) and can make contact with the best fastballs in the game. There’s a split camp regarding his defense, but this atmosphere would give him a chance to catch for some of the best pitching prospects in the sport.
1B — Ryan Mountcastle (BAL)
Mountcastle has hit at every stop of his pro career. In 2019, as a 22-year-old, the 2015 first-rounder swatted .312/.344/.527 with 25 home runs in his first test at Triple-A. His defense will limit him to first base, but he should have enough juice to profile at the position.
3B — Bobby Dalbec (BOS)
Dalbec can annihilate baseballs, period. The hulking former Arizona Wildcat crunched 20 homers in 105 games with Double-A Portland, then added seven more in Triple-A. Dalbec is a potentially plus defender at the hot corner and will profile there with double-plus power.
SS — Wander Franco (TB)
The best prospect in the game should be on the biggest stage in the minor leagues. Franco showed a tremendous tool set—including an otherworldly batting eye—at both levels of Class A in 2019 and had the potential to race to the big leagues by season’s end in a normal year.
1B — Andrew Vaughn (CWS)
After an offseason of rest, Chicago’s 2019 first-round pick was looking to build on a solid pro debut. He’s got an enticing combination of power and hittability and should become part of the outstanding young core the White Sox are building.
2B — Aaron Bracho (CLE)
Cleveland’s system is extremely youthful, and Bracho is one of its brightest stars. He’s a sneaky-good hitter with a smooth swing from both sides of the plate and showed enough plate discipline to walk more often than he struck out in 30 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2019 before a brief stint at short-season Mahoning Valley.
1B — Spencer Torkelson (DET)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft is already part of the Tigers’ player pool and turning heads in a group of veterans that includes Miguel Cabrera. He was having a standout season for Arizona State before the pandemic stopped sports across the country and was an easy choice as the 1-1 pick.
SS — Bobby Witt Jr. (KC)
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Witt was impressive enough in the Rookie-level Arizona League to rank as its No. 3 prospect, behind shortstops C.J. Abrams (Padres) and Marco Luciano (Giants). All five of his tools grade as at least 55, and four could grow into plus grades.
OF — Brayan Buelvas (OAK)
One of the youngest players in any team’s player pool, Buelvas just turned 18 but was excellent in a 44-game stint in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He hit .300/.392/.506 in the AZL and has the potential to stick in center field as well.
OF — Brandon Marsh (LAA)
Marsh is one of the best hitters—and best talkers—in the Angels’ system. He had an outstanding, albeit shortened, season in 2019 at Double-A Mobile and then showed off some more in the Arizona Fall League. He and Jo Adell have the potential to form an excellent 1-2 punch in Los Angeles in the near future.
OF — George Valera (CLE)
Another outstanding player in Cleveland’s extremely young farm system, Valera opened eyes in 2019 with an intriguing summer as an 18-year-old in the college-heavy New York-Penn League and earned a brief bump to low Class A. He boasts a combination of five potentially average or better tools, and would have had a chance at a true breakout in 2020.
OF — Julio Rodriguez (SEA)
In the aftermath of last year’s Futures Game, BA predicted that Rodriguez would win the MVP of the 2020 game. While the game is obviously postponed, Rodriguez still has some of the best blends of tools in the sport and proved it throughout a standout 2019 season. He should win the MVP of something at some point.
OF — Jarred Kelenic (SEA)
The Mariners had Kelenic high on their draft boards in 2018, but watched as the Mets took him with the No. 6 pick. When they traded for him six months later, they scored a coup. Kelenic tore up the minors in his first season as a Mariner and got all the way to Double-A as a 19-year-old. He and Julio Rodriguez should be a force in the Pacific Northwest for years to come.
Why The Padres Chose Ryan Weathers For Their NLDS Roster Over MacKenzie Gore
In the context of what the Padres need and the pitchers’ performances this summer, the decision makes sense.
RHP — Edward Cabrera (MIA)
Cabrera flew somewhat under the radar in 2019 despite a dominant season. The righthander struck out more than 10 hitters per nine innings between high Class A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville and uses a combination of a double-plus fastball and a plus slider to get plenty of whiffs.
RHP — Max Meyer (MIA)
The No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, Meyer brings a huge fastball and the best slider available in the draft class. He’s athletic and explosive and could be an immediate weapon for the Marlins should they find themselves in a playoff race during the strange 2020 season.
RHP — Spencer Howard (PHI)
Philly’s No. 1 prospect was tremendous in 2019, albeit with a break in the middle of the season because of shoulder soreness, and was particularly impressive in the Arizona Fall League. In a normal year, Howard might be on the cusp of making his big league debut. That also might be the case this year, just not in the way anybody expected.
LHP — Brailyn Marquez (CHC)
Being an exhibition game, one of the most fun parts of every Futures Game is watching to see which pitcher lights up the radar gun the most. Marquez would be a prime candidate to take the crown this year, considering how often he hit triple-digits in 2019. The Cubs’ No. 1 prospect would have been an easy pick to reach Los Angeles this year.
LHP — Nick Lodolo (CIN)
Lodolo, the Reds’ 2019 first-round pick out of Texas Christian, had about as strong of a pro debut as could be imagined. The lefty struck out 30 and walked nobody between Rookie-level Billings and low Class A Dayton. His signature plus curveball fronts a strong three-pitch mix.
LHP — Blake Walston (ARI)
The D-backs chose Walston out of a North Carolina high school last summer and then kept him on a short leash for the rest of the year. Still, he struck out 17 and walked just two over 11 innings. He also pitched in the playoffs for the eventual Northwest League-champion Hillsboro Hops of the Northwest League.
RHP — Josiah Gray (LAD)
Gray joined the Dodgers as part of the deal that sent Yasiel Puig to the Reds, who smartly drafted him out of Division II Le Moyne (N.Y.) in the second supplemental round in 2018. In his first full season (and first with the Dodgers), Gray zoomed from low Class A to Double-A. In a normal scenario, this game might have been Gray’s first chance to pitch at Dodger Stadium.
LHP — MacKenzie Gore (SD)
Baseball America has Gore ranked as the best pitching prospect in the game, so it’s only right that he should be included among this bunch. Gore has a devastating mix of power pitches from the left side and could eventually slide into the front of San Diego’s rotation.
RHP — Luis Patino (SD)
In many systems, Patino would be the top pitching prospect. In the Padres’ system, he’ll have to settle for 1b, just behind MacKenzie Gore. The loose-armed Colombian righty (who would join Oakland’s Brayan Buelvas as the second Colombian player in this hypothetical game) dazzled at the end of the 2019 game, so an encore performance might be in order.
RHP — Drew Rasmussen (MIL)
Rasmussen’s story is the perfect example of perseverance paying off. The Oregon State product has recovered from two Tommy John surgeries to make it all the way to Double-A Biloxi last year and onto the Brewers’ summer camp roster this year. With a huge fastball and a nasty slider, he could be useful out of the bullpen in 2020.
C — Diego Cartaya (LAD)
The Dodgers’ extremely talented system is clustered toward the upper levels, leaving Cartaya to stand as one of the gems a little farther away from the big leagues. He put up a solid season in the Dominican Summer League and the Rookie-level Arizona League and has the makings of a catcher who can provide an impact on both sides of the ball.
C — Ivan Herrera (STL)
Like Ryan Jeffers on the American League team, Herrera is another sneaky-good catching prospect. He’s not a classic masher, but he has enough hittability and power to project for lots of line drives and 12-15 homers a year. He’s also got enough defensive chops to stick behind the plate.
C — Joey Bart (SFG)
Bart is one of the best prospects in the game but has had rough luck with injuries, including a pair of broken hands in 2019. He’s got plenty of potential to provide impact on both sides of the ball, and would have had the potential to star in his second straight Futures Game appearance.
SS — Marco Luciano (SFG)
In a normal year, Luciano might have been one of the biggest stories of the summer. He exploded in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2019 and even made a brief cameo in the short-season Northwest League before a minor injury ended his season. He has some of the loudest tools in the game and could have been on an extremely fast track this year.
SS/2B — Andres Gimenez (NYM)
The Mets’ summer camp roster wasn’t particularly prospect-packed, but Gimenez is no slouch. He plays excellent defense up the middle and can spray line drives around the diamond. He held his own in a return to Double-A Binghamton in 2019 as one of the league’s youngest players.
3B/1B — Alec Bohm (PHI)
The best hitting prospect in the Phillies’ system, Bohm has the defensive flexibility to p,ay both corner-infield spots at the major league level and the power to profile at either position. Despite his massive frame and long levers, Bohm has shown the ability to hit for both average and power.
2B — Luis Garcia (WAS)
Garcia was one of the stars of early spring training before everything was shut down. He was also impressive in the Arizona Fall League and could have found himself in the big leagues in short order if he’d carried that improvement to Triple-A Fresno.
SS — Oneil Cruz (PIT)
Baseball’s biggest unicorn, Cruz is massive, athletic and powerful. He can swat home runs to any part of the ballpark but his lanky frame gives evaluators pause about whether pitchers will eventually find holes in his swing. Even so, he’s one of the most fun players in the minor leagues.
SS — Brendan Rodgers (COL)
The Rockies’ player pool isn’t particularly prospect-packed, so we went with their No. 1 overall prospect. Under normal circumstances he’d likely have lost his prospect eligibility, but for now we still get to use his hitting and power potential for this exercise.
SS — Gavin Lux (LAD)
Just like Brendan Rodgers, Lux would have no chance to make this roster under regular conditions. He’d be the Dodgers’ regular second baseman by now and likely would have exhausted his prospect eligibility. If it isn’t clear by now, these are not regular conditions. So we get this extremely talented Dodger once more.
OF — Cristian Pache (ATL)
If you’re looking for highlight-reel catches in this game, look no further. Pache is arguably the best defensive outfielder in the minors. In 2019, he also added some offensive impact to his game, swatting 36 doubles and 12 homers between both upper levels.
OF — Drew Waters (ATL)
Waters was possibly the biggest snub of last year’s Futures Game selections, so we’ll rectify that decision in this game. Waters is a contact machine with the potential for plus speed and defense as well. He and Cristian Pache could team with Ronald Acuna in Atlanta to form a young, gifted outfield in the near future.
OF — Brennen Davis (CHC)
Though his season was cut short by injuries, Davis started to turn the tools the Cubs saw in him as an amateur into skills as a professional. The sky’s the limit for Davis, whom the Cubs skipped over short-season Eugene and sent to low Class A South Bend for his first professional season.
OF — Dylan Carlson (STL)
Like many of the players on this list, Carlson would have likely been in the majors long before the Futures Game. Alas, the pandemic struck and Carlson has retained his eligibility. He broke out in a big way in 2019 and has the potential to provide average and power in St. Louis in short order.
OF — Corbin Carroll (ARI)
Arizona chose to bring some of its brightest young prospects to the player pool to get them some experience against veteran competition, not to mention as many reps as possible with the minor league season canceled. Carroll, the team’s ultra-athletic first-rounder from 2019, was among that group. He proved advanced enough in 2019 to make it all the way to short-season Hillsboro in the typically college-heavy Northwest League.