Predicting The 2020 Futures Game National League Rosters
The Futures Game is just about four months away, but we here at Baseball America are already counting down the days. This year's version will be played on Sunday, July 12 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Last year's version was a departure from previous years because it pitted American League prospects against their National League counterparts instead of the typical United States vs. World format the game had normally followed. The game was also shortened from nine innings to seven (though the teams forced an eighth inning anyway).
No matter the format, the order of the day is prospects, prospects and more prospects. So, just as we did last year, we're going to take a very early crack at guessing what the rosters will look like come summertime. Some of the more obvious names are left off of this list—Angels top prospect Jo Adell is absent, for instance—for one of two reasons. In Adell's case, we assume he'll already be in Los Angeles ... wearing an Angels uniform.
So sit back, relax and take a look at the players we think will introduce themselves to the world on the biggest stage the minor leagues has to offer. Yesterday, we looked at the American League, while today, we're looking at the National League.
C — Joey Bart, Giants
The National League’s premier catching prospect, Bart’s 2019 season was fractured by a pair of hand injuries—one in the regular season and another in the Arizona Fall League. When he was on the field, however, Bart showed why he’s so highly regarded. He’s got the skills to make an impact on both sides of the ball and quickly become one of the key pieces of the Giants’ rebuilt roster.
C — Francisco Alvarez, Mets
Alvarez can be counted as one of the biggest risers in the sport during the 2019 season. In his first full season as a pro, he posted an .820 OPS as one of the youngest players in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. The strong season pushed him all the way to being named the No. 2 prospect in the rejuvenated Mets system and should give him a shot at the Futures Game in his first taste of full-season ball.
1B — Michael Toglia, Rockies
Toglia, who starred at UCLA and was Colorado’s first-round selection a year ago, showed off the power the Rockies coveted. The switch-hitter swatted nine home runs in the short-season Northwest League—where he ranked No. 11 on the league’s annual Top 20 Prospects list—which tied him for second on the circuit.
2B — Luis Garcia, Nationals
Garcia opened 2019 as the youngest player in the Double-A Eastern League by a long margin. In fact, he was the youngest player in the entire classification by more than a year. So while his .257/.280/.337 slash line at Harrisburg might not jump off the page, the context makes it impressive. He held his own in the Arizona Fall League, too, and could make his Triple-A debut before he turns 20.
3B — Nolan Gorman, Cardinals
The Cardinals’ first-rounder from 2018 appeared in the 2019 Futures Game as well, thanks to his big-time power potential. The Arizona prep product is the owner of potentially double-plus power and is the best power prospect in the system. He combined for 15 homers at both levels of Class A and could improve his hittability with a more malleable swing.
SS — Marco Luciano, Giants
Wow. What a debut. The first-year pro positively obliterated the Rookie-level Arizona League as a 17-year-old. Luciano finished his time on the circuit with 10 home runs in 38 games before earning a promotion to short-season Salem-Keizer. He’s as gifted a hitter as you’ll find in the minors, with a combination of potentially plus hittability and double-plus power.
SS — Ronny Mauricio, Mets
Mauricio entered the season as the second-youngest player in the South Atlantic League and spent the entire season with Columbia. There, he showed the all-around skills to take the top spot among Mets prospects. There are questions as to whether his body will allow him to remain at shortstop, but if he has to move he still has the offensive tools to be an impact player.
SS — CJ Abrams, Padres
Outside of a late injury that ended his season, Abrams could have hardly scripted a better pro debut. He hit .401 in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he earned the top spot on the league’s Top 20 Prospects list. The No. 6 overall pick jumped all the way to No. 22 on the preseason Top 100, buoyed by potentially double-plus hitting and speed grades.
OF — Drew Waters, Braves
Waters’ 163 hits placed him second in the minors (behind only White Sox stud Luis Robert) and helped him jump all the way to No. 36 on the most recent iteration of the Top 100. Waters won the Southern League’s MVP award despite opening the season as its youngest player. With a crowded outfield in Atlanta, Waters is likely to return to Triple-A to open the year and could stay there long enough to earn a spot in the Futures Game.
OF — Cristian Pache, Braves
After going without a home run for his first 669 at-bats as a pro, Pache’s power has begun to show up much more frequently. As such, his prospect stock has risen dramatically. Scouts who saw Pache in 2019 saw a player capable of hitting 25 homers annually in the big leagues, all while playing standout defense in center field.
OF — Kristian Robinson, D-backs
Robinson was the talk of the short-season Northwest League last summer and easily earned the top spot among the circuit’s Top 20 Prospects list. He’s got the potential to be a five-tool player and has the personality to withstand any spotlight that might come his way as a result. Arizona’s farm system is one of the most improved in the game, and Robinson stands as one of its most lustrous gems.
OF — Corbin Carroll, D-backs
The Diamondbacks had a haul of draft picks last summer, and the team spent its first choice on Carroll, a hitting savant out of the Pacific Northwest. He’s gifted with advanced knowledge of the strike zone, burner-type speed and the potentially plus glove to stick in center field. He made it all the way to the Northwest League for the playoffs and impressed enough to rank No. 90 on the Top 100.
OF — JJ Bleday, Marlins
Author of one of the longest seasons in the sport, Bleday began 2019 with Vanderbilt, finished his amateur career as a College World Series champion, was drafted fourth overall and then started his pro career at high Class A Jupiter. His numbers didn’t jump off the page after a long season, but he has the potential to be a player who hits for average and power at the highest level.
OF — Brennen Davis, Cubs
The Cubs took a flier on Davis with their second-round pick in 2018. They believed the athletic prowess he showed as a two-sport star in high school would help him unlock his natural gifts when focused solely on baseball. They were right. Though his season was shortened by injury, Davis showed the tools and aptitude to be a star-level player in the big leagues.
Did Super Two Status Affect Recent Prospect Callups?
Looking at recent history, it seems like this week’s promotions were not service time-influenced decisions.
P — Aaron Ashby, Brewers
If you have talent, scouting departments will find you. Ashby, who went to school at Crowder (Mo.) JC, saw his stuff and results tick up before the Brewers selected him in the fourth round in 2018. He struck out 135 hitters in his first full pro season, mainly with a low-90s fastball and a nasty snapdragon hook.
P — Matthew Liberatore, Cardinals
Liberatore was the prize in the deal that sent outfielders Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena to Tampa Bay. The lefthander checks in at No. 42 on the season-opening Top 100 Prospects list and boasts an arsenal headlined by a potentially plus fastball and curveball combination. After spending all of 2019 at low Class A Bowling Green, he’ll head to the Florida State League.
P — Brailyn Marquez, Cubs
Marquez was intriguing entering 2019. A year later, he’s put himself on the map as one of the highest-upside pitchers in the sport, boasting a fastball that regularly visits triple-digits and a breaking ball that gets hitters to chase. He was outstanding in his first taste of high Class A and could draw plenty of ooohs and aaahs in Chicago with his extremely potent heaters. He has the potential to be a high-impact arm whether he lands in the rotation or the bullpen.
P — Josiah Gray, Dodgers
The second Division II arm on this list, Gray was a product of Le Moyne (N.Y.) College, where he converted from the infield to the mound and found success. Originally drafted by the Reds, Gray was dealt to the Dodgers in the deal that brought Yasiel Puig and others to Cincinnati. He gets his outs with a plus fastball and a potentially above-average slider.
P — Edward Cabrera, Marlins
The Marlins’ system is suddenly armed and dangerous. Righthander Sixto Sanchez gets a lot of the headlines, but Cabrera put together an excellent season fairly quietly. He whiffed 116 hitters in 96.2 innings across two stops, including his first taste of the upper levels. The No. 68 prospect in the game gets his whiffs with a four-pitch arsenal buttressed by a double-plus fastball and plus slider.
P — Jackson Rutledge, Nationals
Because none of the pitchers in the Futures Game typically work longer than an inning, the format gives pitchers a chance to let their hard stuff eat. Rutledge brings a hard fastball in between 94-98 mph and backs it up with a plus slider. The 17th overall pick in the 2019 draft was already on the border of the Top 100 Prospects list, and a strong first full season as a pro could help him attain that status rather quickly.
P — Spencer Howard, Phillies
Were it not for an injury that kept Howard down for a chunk of last season, the Phillies’ top prospect might be knocking even more loudly on the door of the big leagues. Howard wowed evaluators all season long, including an impressive bid in the Arizona Fall League, and earned a spot on the United States’ Olympic qualifying squad. All four of Howard’s pitches project as at least above-average, including a nasty, double-plus fastball.
P — Quinn Priester, Pirates
Priester was the Pirates’ first-rounder in 2019 (No. 18 overall) and earned a spot as the No. 2 prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League after striking out 37 hitters in 32.2 innings. He then moved to the short-season New York-Penn League to finish his year. Priester makes his money with the help of a pair of fastballs (four- and two-seam) and a potentially plus curveball.
P — Nick Lodolo, Reds
The Reds went with college pedigree with the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft when they called Lodolo’s name. The Texas Christian product performed even better than expected, including 30 strikeouts across 18.1 walk-free innings. Lodolo was the first pitcher off the board in 2019 and could move quickly through Cincinnati’s system.
P — Ryan Rolison, Rockies
As would be expected of a pitcher at high Class A Lancaster, Rolison had a rough go of it in 2019, when he went 6-7, 4.87 in the California League. Nevertheless, his stuff was impressive enough to earn the No. 2 spot in the Rockies’ system. He brings his fastball up to 94 mph and backs it up with a changeup and curveball, though he was also toying with a slider during the season.