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Power Show Makes Futures Game Fun For All

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Yusniel Diaz (Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON D.C.—The Futures Game is always supposed to be a sneak peek at baseball of the next decade.

There were no shifts, which seemed kind of retro, but otherwise, we saw baseball in 2018 just amped up to the next level by an all-star atmosphere.

Lots of home runs. Lot of strikeouts, Lots of velocity. Lots of fun.

It’s an all-star game, so you want stars. You want big flies and big fastballs and we got plenty of both.

Sunday’s Futures Game had a perfect formula for a lot of home runs. For one, the teams used the big league ball with its tighter seams and its tendencies to carry in ways minor league balls never do.

But beyond that, you had pitchers who were going to show off their fastballs and hitters who were going to show they could hit pretty much any fastball.

"Everyone was looking for fastballs. Pitchers wanted to show off their heaters, too. It was challenging guys. It was a fun atmosphere and it paid off in a fun game,” Tigers righthander Matt Manning said.

Nowhere was that more apparent than when White Sox outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe took Hunter Greene deep. Greene showed off one of the hardest fastballs the Futures Game have ever seen—not one of his fastballs dipped below 100 and he touched 103 mph—but Basabe turned around a 102 mph fastball, driving it out to right center field.

Of the eight home runs hit in the Futures Game, seven came on fastballs. In addition to the Greene 102.3 mph fastball, four other home runs came on pitches that were 95 mph or harder.

"It was flying if you put good wood on it . . . Fans were probably excited to see it,” Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen said. "There were home runs going left and right.”

Pitchers knew that good fastballs were getting crushed, but it was an all-star game on national TV. No one wanted to look like a junkballer with just a great curve or change.

"I knew everyone was geared up on the fastball. You had to be with all the arms throwing 95-plus. But I didn’t want to be throwing all offspeed in the Futures Game,” said Giants righthander Shaun Anderson.

Anderson showed off an excellent changeup with good late fade and tumble. But like pretty much everyone else, he wanted to show off his fastball as well. And he found out 95 mph wasn’t enough to beat Dodgers outfielder Yusniel Diaz, who hit it more than 400 feet for a home run.

The pitchers didn’t seem too bothered by being touched up and roughed up. They had their fun blowing gas (there were 16 strikeouts) and the hitters had even more fun.

Mets first baseman Peter Alonso may have had the most fun. He skied a 95-mph fastball by Adonis Medina that almost reached the concourse beyond the left-field seats. Alonso knew it as soon as he hit it. He didn’t budge out of the batter’s box until the ball was well on its way. When he did he then did a half bat toss/half bat flip.

"In a regular season game if I had done what I did, I would have worn one in my ribs the next time up or the guy behind me would have gotten one in the ribs,” Alonso said. "But here you’re supposed to enjoy it. I took my sweet time going around the bases. I blew a kiss to my family and my cheering session. That went so far. I shocked myself. That’s definitely the longest one I’ve gotten.”

Ke’Bryan Hayes started laughing to himself as he rounded second base.

"It was an out-of-body experience. I felt like it did when I was a kid in the backyard hitting a home run off my older brother. To do this in a big league ballpark. I started laughing and smiling. Wow did I really just do that?” Hayes said.

Jansen floated around the bases in a fog.

"I felt like I was running on a cloud at first. To have a chance to play with USA on my chest and Toronto on my sleeve and to have my family there was an unbelievable experience,” Jansen said.

There have been Futures Games where there have been better defensive plays. There have been ones with better pitching, but there have been few Futures Games that were more fun.

"People go to watch baseball for entertainment purposes. There were strikeouts, home runs, double plays. I don’t know what more you would want in a baseball game from a fan standpoint. Today was super special,” Alonso said.

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Pete Alonso Wins 2019 National League Rookie of the Year

Alonso fell just short of unanimous selection. Mike Soroka received one first-place vote and 25 second-place votes.

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