Top 25 Futures Gamers Turned MLB All-Stars
he inaugural Futures Game in Boston in 1999 featured six prospects who went on to appear in at least three major league All-Star Games. Representing the World team that year were game MVP Alfonso Soriano (a seven-time all-star), Aramis Ramirez (three), Rafael Furcal (three) and Francisco Cordero (three). The United States team had Lance Berkman (six) and Vernon Wells (three).
Other Futures Game classes produced even more impact.
• 2011 Futures Game in Phoenix: Mike Trout (six), Bryce Harper (five), Paul Goldschmidt (five), Nolan Arenado (three) and Manny Machado (three) appeared on the U.S. squad. The World team had Jose Altuve (five) and Carlos Martinez (two).
• 2006 Futures Game in Pittsburgh: Ryan Braun (six), Troy Tulowitzki (five), Alex Gordon (three) and Hunter Pence (three) highlighted the U.S. team, while the World team featured Joey Votto (five) and Carlos Gonzalez (three).
• 2003 Futures Game in Chicago: Robinson Cano (eight), Edwin Encarnacion (three) and Alex Rios (two) suited up for the World team. Joe Mauer (six), Zack Greinke (four), Grady Sizemore (three), Kevin Youkilis (three) and Ryan Howard (three) represented the U.S.
The Futures Game class of 2014 could go down as one of the best ever. That year in Minneapolis, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Luis Severino starred for the World team, while Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant, Corey Seager and Noah Syndergaard repped the U.S.
While the class of 2014 appears promising, its players still are building their credentials. For this reason, I decided to divide the Futures Game field in half before ranking the players in terms of big league impact. So players from the 1999–2008 Futures Games are considered "old guard," while the 2009–2015 Futures Games comprise the event's "new guard."
Old Guard 1999–2008 Futures Games
1. Miguel Cabrera, 1B Futures Game: 2001–2002 Marlins (World). All-Star: 11. MLB Seasons: 15.
The most accomplished of all the Futures Game alumni, Cabrera has claimed a pair of AL MVP awards—not to mention a Triple Crown in 2012—and he finished in the top five in MVP balloting on five other occasions.
2. Clayton Kershaw, LHP Futures Game: 2007 Dodgers (U.S.). All-Star: 7. MLB Seasons: 10.
Beginning with his first big season in 2011, Kershaw has recorded a 2.08 ERA over seven seasons and 1,400 innings, while claiming three NL Cy Young awards and finishing top five in every other completed season.
3. Robinson Cano, 2B Futures Game: 2003–2004 Yankees (World). All-Star: 8. MLB Seasons: 13.
While Cano never has led the AL in any category except games played, and he never has come close to winning an MVP award, he still qualifies as the best second baseman of the 21st Century up to this point.
4. Ryan Braun, OF Futures Game: 2006 Brewers (U.S.). All-Star: 6. MLB Seasons: 11.
Braun owns an NL Rookie of the Year trophy, an NL MVP award and two other top-three MVP finishes—all claimed prior to his 2013 Biogenesis suspension.
Andrew McCutchen won the NL MVP award in 2013. (George Gojkovich)
5. Andrew McCutchen, OF Futures Game: 2008 Pirates (U.S.). All-Star: 5. MLB Seasons: 9.
McCutchen claimed the NL MVP award in 2013 and finished top five in three other seasons as he led the Pirates to relevancy after a 20-year franchise slump.
6. Josh Hamilton, OF Futures Game: 2000 Rays (U.S.). All-Star: 5. MLB Seasons: 9.
Hamilton won the AL MVP award in 2010, the first of two straight seasons he helped the Rangers take the AL pennant. Because Hamilton spent three years on the restricted list, seven years elapsed between his Futures Game appearance in 2000 and his big league debut.
7. David Wright, 3B Futures Game: 2004 Mets (U.S.). All-Star: 7. MLB Seasons: 14.
Spinal stenosis has limited Wright to 75 total games during the past three seasons, but he made seven all-star teams in his first 10 seasons.
8. Justin Verlander, RHP Futures Game: 2005 Tigers (U.S.). All-Star: 6. MLB Seasons: 13.
Verlander claimed an AL Rookie of the Year award, an AL Cy Young award (plus two other runner-up finishes) to go with four AL strikeout titles and an ERA title in his 2011 pitching triple crown season.
9. Felix Hernandez, RHP Futures Game: 2004 Mariners (World). All-Star: 6. MLB Seasons: 13.
An AL Cy Young award trophy in 2010, plus two other runner-up finishes, highlight a career that includes two AL ERA titles. Hernandez debuted in the majors one year after his Futures Game appearance, when he was still just 19.
Prince Fielder played all 162 games in four different seasons. (Cliff Welch)
10. Prince Fielder, 1B Futures Game: 2004 Brewers (U.S.). All-Star: 6. MLB Seasons: 13.
A serious neck injury cut down the power-hitting Fielder in his early 30s, which came as a surprise given his notable durability up to that point.
11. Joey Votto, 1B Futures Game: 2006–2007 Reds (World). All-Star: 5. MLB Seasons: 11.
The Canadian first baseman won the NL MVP award in 2010 as he kicked off a string of four straight NL on-base percentage titles.
12. Alfonso Soriano, 2B Futures Game: 1999 Yankees (World). All-Star: 7. MLB Seasons: 16.
One of just four players ever to go 40-40 in a season, Soriano slammed 412 home runs in a 16-year career that began at second base and concluded in left field.
13. Joe Mauer, C Futures Game: 2003 Twins (U.S.). All-Star: 6. MLB Seasons: 14.
Mauer claimed three AL batting titles and the 2009 AL MVP award in his early to mid-20s, but his production trailed off in his 30s, which coincided with a shift to first base.
Mike Trout leads all active players with a .975 OPS and 172 OPS+. (Tom DiPace)
New Guard 2009–2015 Futures Games
1. Mike Trout, OF Futures Game: 2010–2011 Angels (U.S.). All-Star: 6. MLB Seasons: 7.
Trout leads all active players in OPS (.975) and OPS+ (172) and has finished first or second in every AL MVP race since 2012, his Rookie of the Year season. He won MVP trophies in 2014 and 2016.
2. Bryce Harper, OF Futures Game: 2011 Nationals (U.S.). All-Star: 5. MLB Seasons: 6.
After an NL MVP award-winning season in 2015 gave way to an ordinary 2016, Harper is back on track this season, his fifth all-star effort out of six.
3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Futures Game: 2011 Diamondbacks (U.S.). All-Star: 5. MLB Seasons: 7.
Goldschmidt has a pair of runner-up finishes in NL MVP balloting and already has led the NL at various points in home runs, RBIs and walks.
4. Jose Altuve, 2B Futures Game: 2011 Astros (World). All-Star: 5. MLB Seasons: 7.
Altuve is the heir apparent to Robinson Cano as the best second baseman in baseball. He has won two AL batting titles, led the league in hits three times and led in stolen bases twice.
Nolan Arenado led the NL in both home runs and RBIs in 2015 and 2016. (Bill Nichols)
5. Nolan Arenado, 3B Futures Game: 2011–2012 Rockies (U.S.). All-Star: 3. MLB Seasons: 5.
Arenado has claimed a Gold Glove in all four of his completed seasons, while leading the NL in both home runs and RBIs in 2015 and 2016.
6. Kris Bryant, 3B Futures Game: 2014 Cubs (U.S.). All-Star: 2. MLB Seasons: 3.
How's this for a timeline? 2013—BA College Player of the Year. 2014—BA Minor League Player of the Year. 2015—NL Rookie of the Year. 2016—NL MVP.
7. Francisco Lindor, SS Futures Game: 2012–2014 Indians (World) All-Star: 2. MLB Seasons: 3.
The smooth Puerto Rican shortstop, in just his second big league season, helped propel the Indians to the 2016 AL pennant.
8. Corey Seager, SS Futures Game: 2014 Dodgers (U.S.). All-Star: 2. MLB Seasons: 3.
Seager gained mainstream acclaim in his NL Rookie of the Year season in 2016, in which he also finished third in MVP balloting. He entered the season as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.
9. Giancarlo Stanton, OF Futures Game: 2009 Marlins (U.S.). All-Star: 4. MLB Seasons: 8.
The preeminent young slugger in the game has claimed one NL home run title and two slugging titles in addition to his runner-up finish in 2014 MVP balloting.
Shohei Ohtani, Japan Top Team USA To Win World Baseball Classic Championship
Shohei Ohtani struck out Mike Trout for the final out to give Japan a 3-2 win over Team USA in the World Baseball Classic championship game.
Despite a poor first half, Manny Machado remains an exciting young star. (Mike Janes)
10. Manny Machado, 3B Futures Game: 2011–2012 Orioles (U.S.). All-Star: 3. MLB Seasons: 6.
Though he struggled in the first half of 2017, Machado has a pair of 35-homer seasons, two Gold Gloves and a pair of top-five finishes in AL MVP balloting.
11. Mookie Betts, OF Futures Game: 2014 Red Sox (U.S.). All-Star: 2. MLB Seasons: 4.
A power-speed threat who has played four positions as a pro—including shortstop, second base and center field in the minors—Betts finished runner-up in 2016 AL MVP voting.
12. Madison Bumgarner, LHP Futures Game: 2009 Giants (U.S.). All-Star: 4. MLB Seasons: 9.
The 6-foot-5 lefthander saves his best work for the World Series. In five games (four starts), he went 4-0, 0.25 with 31 strikeouts, five walks and 14 hits allowed in 36 innings.