Constructing The Ideal 2022 Futures Game Rosters
A month from today, the baseball media and scouts from across the country will assemble in Dodger Stadium for the Futures Game, the annual showcase of some of the sport's most talented young prospects.
While the rosters won't officially drop for a little while longer, that shouldn't stop us from looking around the minor leagues and putting together the most fun rosters we can imagine. To be clear, these aren't to be construed as anything resembling official rosters. Those will come later. These are just the dreamscapes of people who love prospects and are California dreaming of the bounty to come.
We did adhere to the rules of the official roster construction: At least one player from every big league organization but no more than two from any club, either. We also skipped over some guys who are currently hurt or in the big leagues (Brennen Davis with the Cubs and Gabriel Moreno with the Blue Jays, for example).
Otherwise, everyone in the minors was fair game. In a short while, we'll see the actual rosters. Until then, take a look at what we think might be a fun pairing on July 16.
RHP — Taj Bradley, Rays
Bradley broke out in a big way in 2021 and has continued his success in 2022, when he’s gotten his first taste of the upper levels. Through 49.1 innings spanning his first 11 starts, the 21-year-old had fanned 62 against just 13 walks.
RHP — Brayan Bello, Red Sox
Bello has always had enviable arm talent. This year, though, he’s convinced more and more people that he could fit into a rotation rather than the bullpen. Bello, who repped Boston at the 2021 Futures Game as well, has zoomed to Triple-A and recorded 84 strikeouts against just 24 walks between Boston’s two upper-level affiliates.
LHP — Ken Waldichuk, Yankees
Waldichuk is arguably the Yankees’ best lefthanded pitching prospect since Jordan Montgomery, and he appears to be on the cusp of his big league debut. His sweeper slider has helped him get strikeouts by the bushel, and through June 15 his 78 strikeouts were the most in the Yankees’ system.
RHP — Gavin Williams, Guardians
Williams was a reliever at East Carolina who was slated to move into the rotation full-time during the 2020 season. The pandemic had other ideas. Undeterred, the Guardians popped Williams with their first-round pick and have reaped the benefits. Williams’ wicked arsenal—fronted by an upper-90s fastball and a hammer slider— has helped him tear apart the competition and reach Double-A in his first pro season.
LHP — Ricky Tiedemann, Blue Jays
Tiedemann started raising eyebrows during instructional league following the 2021 season and has continued upping his profile in his first official experience as a professional. His 20.3% swinging-strike rate leads the Toronto system, and he’s already found his way to High-A.
RHP — Hunter Brown, Astros
Brown has some of the nastiest stuff in the sport, but command and control have always been a bugaboo. His walk rates are still higher than one would like, but his rate of 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings is undeniable. No matter if he winds up a reliever or a starter, he would make a fine addition to the American League’s Futures Game squad.
RHP — Brett Kerry, Angels
The Angels’ fifth-rounder out of South Carolina from last year’s draft, Kerry has bunched together big strikeout numbers with the help of an 89-93 mph fastball with excellent life. He has a full four-pitch complement and his 58 strikeouts rank fourth in the Angels’ system.
RHP — Bryce Miller, Mariners
The Mariners have become quite good at developing pitching. George Kirby in the big leagues is the foremost example, and Matt Brash showed his potential in spurts as well. Now, the club is getting big early returns from Miller, whom they selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft. Miller’s fastball-slider combination has helped him strike out 74 hitters in 59.1 innings so far this season.
RHP — Wilmer Flores, Tigers
Flores has been one of the biggest revelations in the minor leagues. The younger brother of the big leaguer with the same name, Flores was signed as an NDFA out of junior college and this season has left hitters spellbound with a combination of upper-90s gas and a hammer curveball.
C — Korey Lee, Astros
Despite a lull to open this season, Lee still ranks as one of the better prospects in Houston’s system and earned a rep entering the season as an excellent defender with a double-plus throwing arm. He needs to cut down on his swing and miss somewhat to unlock more of his power.
C — Shea Langeliers, Athletics
Langeliers was one of the prizes the A’s received from the Braves in exchange for Matt Olson. He had a huge year on both sides of the ball in 2021 but has struggled somewhat offensively this year when playing away from the hitter-friendly confines in Las Vegas. He’s still showing well defensively, with a 31% caught stealing rate and just two passed balls.
C — Dillon Dingler, Tigers
Dingler was the Tigers’ second-round selection in 2020. The Ohio State alum hasn’t hit particularly well in Double-A, but has caught 38% of runners trying to steal and has permitted just three passed balls in 328 innings behind the dish.
SS — Gunnar Henderson, Orioles
With Adley Rutschman nearing the end of his term as a prospect and righthander Grayson Rodriguez on the injured list, Henderson has a good case to soon be the No. 1 prospect in the Orioles’ system. He’s still just 20 years old and has hit the stuffing out of the ball at the upper levels. Even if he doesn’t stick at shortstop, his bat will play more than enough at third base.
1B — Vinnie Pasquantino, Royals
Hello, Italian Breakfast! Pasquantino has risen from the realm of the interesting to one of the best offensive prospects in the game. He’s mashed Triple-A pitching as easily as pummeling a pile of cubed potatoes into a bed of corned beef hash. He’s knocking on the door of the big leagues already, so he might happily be unavailable for this game a month from now.
2B — Justin Foscue, Rangers
The Rangers have a ton of middle infield prospects, even with Ezequiel Duran and Josh Smith in the big leagues. Foscue, the team’s first-rounder in 2020, might be the next in line. An offensive-minded player, Foscue has shown both thump and command of the strike zone (20 walks to 25 strikeouts through Wednesday) that point to a player who could fit in the middle of the order.
SS/2B — Lenyn Sosa, White Sox
Sosa has long been a prospect to keep an eye on. If you heeded those instructions, you’d see a player in the midst of a breakout. Just 22 years old, Sosa leads the Southern League in both batting average (.341) and RBIs (45) and is second in home runs (13).
SS — Colson Montgomery, White Sox
The White Sox’s first-round pick in the 2021 draft, Montgomery has been excellent this season despite dealing with nagging injuries in his hand/wrist area. Despite that, he’s produced a .301 average and a .408 on-base percentage with the help of a pretty swing from the left side.
1B — Jonathan Aranda, Rays
Aranda is the classic professional hitter who’s proven his mettle at every stop. With Triple-A Durham, his average (.320) and on-base percentage (.396) each rank among the top 10 in the International League, and his 70 hits are just one behind Nationals farmhand Joey Meneses for the league lead.
OF — Evan Carter, Rangers
Carter was one of the biggest surprises of the 2020 draft, but it looks like the Rangers have uncovered a gem. He missed most of the 2021 season with injury but early in 2022 had begun showing signs of a rare combination of polish and upside while still maintaining the ability to stick in center field. He’s scuffled a bit recently, but evaluators both in and outside the organization believe he’s in the argument for the team’s best prospect.
OF — Ceddanne Rafaela, Red Sox
Rafaela’s breakout this year has been one of the biggest in the minor leagues. The 21-year-old laid waste to the competition at High-A, where he notched one cycle and nearly completed another, before earning a bump to Double-A. He left the South Atlantic League with the best slugging percentage (.594) and OPS (.962) on the circuit. Entering Wednesday he was still tied for the league lead in hits, extra-base hits and held the outright edge in total bases.
OF — Emmanuel Rodriguez, Twins
Before a left knee sprain put him on the shelf, Rodriguez had put together a tremendous start in the Florida State League. He led the league in both on-base (.492) and slugging (.551) percentage, with the former mark being the best in the full-season minor leagues.
OF — Denzel Clarke, Athletics
Very quietly, Clarke has put together one of the most impressive streaks in the minor leagues. Entering Wednesday, he’d reached base in 38 straight games, the second-longest active stretch in the minors. After torching the California League, Clarke was moved to High-A Lansing on June 14, where his combination of power and patience will be put to a further test.
OF — Everson Pereira, Yankees
Pereira is one of the toolsiest, most exciting players in the Yankees’ system. He has a chance to be a true five-tool player who has a chance to stick in center field. If he does have to move, his power potential is big enough to play in a corner, too. There is still plenty of development to go, however, which is to be expected for a player with just 108 games on his ledger entering the season.
OF — Riley Greene, Tigers
With Spencer Torkelson graduated from prospect consideration, Greene stands as the best prospect on Detroit’s farm. He’s a pure hitter with the potential to produce both average and power, and should be an asset defensively as well. He missed the beginning of the season with a broken right foot and is just now getting back into the swing of things.
OF — George Valera, Guardians
Valera has always been one of the most talented players on the Cleveland farm, and this year’s first few months look like he’s beginning to turn tools into skills. He was No. 10 in the Eastern League in all three triple-slash categories (.285/.392/.497), which is especially impressive considering how offensively oppressive the EL can be in the season’s early months.
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RHP — Eury Perez, Marlins
With his combination of poise, command, stuff and upper-level performance, Perez has a case as the best pitching prospect in baseball. Considering he turned 19 in April and stands 6-foot-8, his ascent over the past 13 months or so is nothing short of remarkable. He leads a group of tremendously talented Marlins mound prospects.
RHP — Bobby Miller, Dodgers
Miller, whom the Dodgers plucked off a ridiculously stacked Louisville squad that also produced Reid Detmers and Henry Davis (the author of a big league no-hitter and the 2021 No. 1 overall pick, respectively) has the stuff to be truly dominant. He regularly brings his heater into the upper 90s and backs it up with a pair of potentially plus offerings in his curveball and changeup as well as an average slider.
LHP — Kyle Harrison, Giants
Harrison dominated in Low-A in 2021 and then ratcheted up his performance at High-A to begin 2022. He whiffed 59 in 29 frames before a promotion to Double-A Richmond. He’s got a dynamic arsenal fronted by a mid-90s fastball and a nasty, sweepy slider. He still has to improve his command, but he easily stands as the best pitching prospect in San Francisco’s system.
RHP — Andrew Painter, Phillies
Two years in a row, the Phillies went with high school pitching at the top of their draft. In 2021, their choice was Painter, a polished arm from Florida. This season, he’s come out swinging and currently is neck and neck with Jersey Shore teammate Mick Abel for the top spot in the system. He pairs an imposing frame with a nasty arsenal fronted by two potential plus pitches in his fastball and slider.
RHP — Mick Abel, Phillies
A year before the Phillies took Andrew Painter, they went to the other side of the country and popped Abel, the most talented pitching prospect to come out of the Pacific Northwest in years. He’s shown lively stuff throughout his pro career but the command of his arsenal has always been a little short. Still, the potential is there for a solid rotation piece.
RHP — Blake Walston, D-backs
The D-backs have gone into North Carolina for prep lefties multiple times in recent years, coming out with Walston and Liam Norris for their efforts. Walston has performed admirably in the Texas League, especially considering his home park in Amarillo tends to treat pitchers quite poorly. His mix of above-average or better pitches could lead him to a spot in the rotation in the coming years.
LHP — Andrew Abbott, Reds
Before his season officially started, Abbott already had a feather in his cap: He struck out all-star Joey Votto multiple times in MiLB spring training games. Once the lights turned on, his performances stayed the same. The Virginia alum has been excellent all year and has risen to Double-A while racking up a strikeout rate of nearly 35%.
RHP — Royber Salinas, Braves
Among pitchers, it’s hard to find a bigger journey from anonymous to awesome than the one Salinas is currently carving. The righthander bum-rushed the Low-A Carolina League before a quick bump to High-A, where he’s had spurts of brilliance mixed with occasional hiccups. His 99 strikeouts are the best in the minors, as is his 20.9% swinging-strike rate.
RHP — Michael Burrows, Pirates
Burrows is one of the biggest risers in the Pittsburgh system this season and has used a one-two punch of upper-90s heat and a hammer breaking ball to bring Eastern League hitters to their knees in the early going. His changeup still needs plenty of refinement, but if it doesn’t come along he still could have a future as a high-leverage reliever.
C — Francisco Alvarez, Mets
The clear-cut No. 1 prospect in the Mets’ system, Alvarez opened the year tied for the youngest player in the Eastern League. Even so, he’s thrived in his first test at the upper levels, particularly so in June. In a dozen games this month, he’s slashed an incredible .311/.373/.756 with seven home runs. If he reaches his ceiling, he could be a perennial all-star behind the plate and a franchise face in New York.
C — Diego Cartaya, Dodgers
Cartaya is one of the best catching prospects in the sport. He’s got power at the plate and behind the dish, with potentially plus pop and a double-plus throwing arm chief among his skill set. He could stand to improve his blocking somewhat, but the raw gifts are morphing into tools, which could give Los Angeles yet another homegrown stud.
C — Drew Romo, Rockies
Romo came out of the draft as one of the most polished defensive catchers in the class. His bat? That was another question. Not anymore. His .296 average entered Wednesday second in the Northwest League, and his 12 doubles were just two off the lead as well. Very quietly, the Colorado system has some studs bubbling at the top, and Romo is in the mix.
3B — Jordan Walker, Cardinals
When Kanye West rapped that “no one man should have all that power,” he might as well have been remarking during a round of Jordan Walker’s batting practice. The exit velocities he posted in 2021 led both Hawkeye and opposing pitchers into existential crises. Thrust into the Texas League as a 20-year-old, Walker has still managed to perform as one of the very best prospects in the sport.
SS — Marco Luciano, Giants
The top prospect in the Giants’ system, Luciano was thriving in a return to High-A Eugene after a cameo at the level toward season’s end in 2021. He’d hit for average and power as has been expected since he first burst onto the scene, but his season has been derailed for now by a back issue that has him back at the team’s complex in Arizona. Here’s hoping he heals quickly enough to get on the field at Dodger Stadium in July.
SS — Ezequiel Tovar, Rockies
Entering the season, Tovar had earned a rep as a defensive wizard and a slam-dunk shortstop whose bat might be a little light. After getting caught in travel limbo post Arizona Fall League, Tovar made the best out of a bad situation and redoubled his efforts to improve his swing. The results have been loud. He’s already clubbed 13 homers, just two shy of the career-best he set in 2021.
SS — Elly De La Cruz, Reds
De La Cruz has a strong case as the most electric prospect in the game. A supremely sinewy superstar in waiting, De La Cruz went from raising eyebrows in Arizona to stirring up a storm in the Florida State League to breathing fire as a Dayton Dragon in less than a year’s time. He can go tool for tool with anybody this side of Bob Vila and is more than capable of putting on the day’s premier show in Los Angeles.
SS — Masyn Winn, Cardinals
Take out your Sharpies and write this down: The best throwing arm at the 2022 Futures Game will belong to Masyn Winn. The two-way talent out of high school has flourished in the batter’s box this season in the Texas League but still gets to show off his arm while making plays from deep in the 5.5 hole. He looks like another Cardinals player development success story.
SS — Liover Peguero, Pirates
Though he still needs to refine his plate discipline in a big way—Peguero is a twitchy enough athlete with the tools to put on an interesting show in an exhibition setting. He’s shown flashes of his talent at Double-A, but the league has adjusted. Now it’s his turn to adjust once more.
OF — Corbin Carroll, D-Backs
The Amarillo social media team has it right: The man’s name is Corbin Barrels. Challenged by an extremely aggressive assignment to Double-A given his age and experience, Carroll has positively thrived in the Texas League. He hits, hits for power, flies around the bases and plays center field with aplomb. What more could you want out of a player who has an inside track toward the status as the No. 1 prospect in the game?
OF — Jackson Chourio, Brewers
When the Brewers jumped Chourio over the ACL and sent him right to Low-A, instantly making him the youngest player in the full-season minors, that was a sign. When he went 12-for-25 in his first week, that was a clue. When he adjusted his hitting mechanics to close an early hole, that was a guttural scream directly into every onlooker’s eardrum that this player, this 18-year-old wunderkind, has a chance to be something beyond special, the type of talent that makes you stop what you’re doing and snap to attention lest you miss a magic moment. Chourio is exactly the kind of player who belongs in the Futures Game. Why? Because he is the future, and he’s ready to give a national audience a sneak preview of the greatness that lies ahead.
OF — Robert Hassell III, Padres
Hassell has been tremendous at High-A this season and might be drawing even more ink were it not for a bout on the Covid IL this month. When on the field, Hassell, whom the Padres popped in the first round in 2020, has shown the ability to hit for average and power and enough baserunning chops to swipe 15 bags and counting. He’d make a fine addition to the NL outfield.
OF — Pete Crow-Armstrong, Cubs
This one might come back to bite the Mets. New York shipped Crow-Armstrong, their first-round pick in 2020, to the Cubs while he was recovering from shoulder surgery. Now recovered, he’s shown all the tools that put him in the conversation as a potential No. 1 overall pick entering his draft season. He’s a premium defender in center field who can make contact and fly around the basepaths with plus speed.
OF — Jeremy De La Rosa, Nationals
De La Rosa was lauded as an amateur and showed enough promise to skip the DSL on the way to his first pro assignment. He’s built on that potential this year, hitting for both average and power as part of a high-powered one-two punch with shortstop Brady House at Low-A Fredericksburg.
OF — Joey Wiemer, Brewers
What do you get when you add light-tower power, plus speed and a true 80-grade throwing arm? You get Joey Wiemer, a sensational combination of tools and charisma and a surefire fan favorite everywhere he goes. He’s shown off his gifts this year at Double-A Biloxi, where he’s already racked up 13 homers and 18 stolen bases. If selected, he could wow evaluators and fans alike in Los Angeles.
OF — Alex Ramirez, Mets
Ramirez was one of the Mets’ more heralded signings in recent vintage, and he’s done quite well during his time in Low-A, spanning two seasons. This year, he’s cut his strikeouts and hit for more power, which is especially impressive in the famously pitcher-friendly Florida State League. With continued success this year, he might leapfrog into the highest tier of Mets prospects.