2019 Futures Game prospects ready to shine

MiLB.com writers pick their players to watch Sunday in Cleveland

Wander Franco is one of four top-five overall prospects headed to this year's Futures Game on Sunday. (Chris Robertson/MiLB.com)

By MiLB.com Staff | July 5, 2019 10:45 AM

The All-Star Futures Game is Sunday at Cleveland's Progressive Field, and MiLB.com writers are excited. Below are their picks for the top players, divided by American League and National League rosters, to watch in what will surely be another exciting prospect showcase. Players are listed in order of their rank among MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects, if applicable. (Note: All stats are through Wednesday's games.)

American League

Wander Franco, shortstop, Rays: Franco was born in March 2001, meaning he will easily be the youngest Futures Game participant this season. (Alek Thomas and Nolan Gorman are the next closest, with 2000 birthdays.) That alone would make him a curiosity Sunday in Cleveland. Oh yeah, he also happens to be MLB.com's top overall prospect, so he'll be even more under the microscope. The switch-hitting shortstop has passed every test put in front of him since he signed in July 2017, first at Rookie Advanced Princeton last season and earlier this campaign at Class A Bowling Green, where he hit .318/.390/.506 with 27 extra-base and a 20/30 K/BB ratio in 62 games. He's gone 12-for-26 (.462) with no punchouts in his first seven games at Class A Advanced Charlotte. But he hasn't seen pitching as consistently tough as he'll see from the National League side. If Franco can pick up a couple hits in his biggest game so far, there is no telling how high his stock could go. -- Sam Dykstra

Video: Bowling Green's Franco clobbers fourth homer

Jo Adell, outfielder, Angels: Jo Adell was batting .391/.462/.478 in Major League camp this spring before a left hamstring strain and right ankle sprain sidelined him for 10 weeks. After six rehab games at Class A Advanced Inland Empire, Adell hit the ground running in his return to Double-A Mobile, with three multi-hit games in his first four contests with the BayBears. MLB.com's No. 4 prospect hasn't slowed down since with a .376/.448/.635 line over 23 games through Wednesday, and he continues to flash his five-tool potential while dominating the Southern League. The 20-year-old outfielder went 1-for-4 with a double and a sacrifice fly in last year's Futures Game, and he'll be looking for more fireworks in what could be his final appearance in the prospect-laden showcase. -- Chris Tripodi

Video: BayBears' Adell cracks solo homer

Luis Robert, outfielder, White Sox: Limited by injuries a season ago, Luis Robert has returned in 2019 with a flourish. He's vaulted himself to the top White Sox prospect, in no small part to him hitting .453 with a 1.432 OPS with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem before earning a promotion to the Double-A. With Birmingham, he's continued to flash his bat, which helped him grab the Southern League All-Star Game's MVP. MLB.com's No. 5 overall prospect is such a dynamic and fast athlete, there's almost no limit to what he can do on the diamond now that he's out there consistently and showing an ever-improving hit tool that will be on display Sunday. -- Andrew Battifarano

Video: Birmingham's Robert with a lead-off homer

Royce Lewis, shortstop, Twins: The 20-year-old has become one of the game's must-follow prospects since being selected with the top overall pick in the 2017 Draft. After climbing through three levels of the Minors over his first two professional seasons, Lewis has settled into the Florida State League this season, and after a rough patch to open 2019, he is flashing his potential again with a .772 OPS and four homers over 15 games since June 19. Ranked as baseball's No. 7 overall prospect, the California native is sporting a career .271/.336/.411 slash line and has swiped 59 bags over 253 games. His plus-plus speed will definitely play against the advanced competition the Futures Game brings, but it'll be interesting to watch if he can carry his improving bat with him to the showcase event. -- Rob Terranova

Video: Lewis rips double for Miracle

Jarred Kelenic, outfielder, Mariners: There are few batters who have been as exciting this season as Kelenic. MLB.com's No. 24 overall prospect came out of the gates firing, notching a 1.100 OPS in April for Class A West Virginia in his full-season debut. And while Kelenic has cooled a bit as he adjusts to Class A Advanced Modesto, the bright lights of Cleveland will be the perfect place for this Midwestern boy to recapture the magic of his first half and show off a plus hit tool from the left side as well as good speed and power. And all before his 20th birthday on July 16. -- Kelsie Heneghan

Deivi Garcia, right-handed pitcher, Yankees: Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, the No. 4 Yankees prospect is rising through the system at supersonic speed. Featuring a dominating fastball and curve, Garcia has added a slider to his repertoire that has made him one of the top strikeout pitchers in the Minors this season. The 20-year-old has notched four double-digit punchout performances, punctuated by a Minor League-high 15 over six innings on June 18. He followed that up with nine strikeouts over five hitless innings to spearhead a combined no-hitter for Double-A Trenton on June 24. Garcia is 4-5 with a 3.01 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings this season. His 39.3 percent K rate is tops in the Minors, and it should be fun to see how many whiffs he can get in a limited sample Sunday. -- Michael Avallone

Video: Thunder's Garcia strikes out eighth straight

National League

MacKenzie Gore, left-handed pitcher, Padres: This is what the Futures Games is for. Gore has arguably had the most electric season of any pitcher in the Minors, recording a 1.02 ERA, 110 strikeouts and 20 walks over 79 1/3 innings through his first 15 starts for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. Yes, that Lake Elsinore. Of the famously hitter-friendly California League, where only one other qualified pitcher has an ERA under 3.00. (Gore's 1.02 ERA is also second-best among any full-season hurler, behind only the injured Casey Mize's 0.92.) Let's all hope the stars (and starts) align in such a way that Gore's given the chance to let it rip on this big stage, where he can show off four above-average pitches including a plus fastball and curve. Then, maybe a move to Double-A Amarillo will finally be in order. -- Josh Jackson

Video: Storm's Gore fans Scott

Joey Bart, catcher, Giants: It's been a good while since Giants fans had a prospect as highly touted as Bart in their farm system. The second overall pick in the 2018 Draft has shined in his first year of full-season ball, even after missing over a month recovering from a broken hand. In 32 games for Class A Advanced San Jose, Bart is hitting .250 with a .771 OPS and six homers to go with 21 RBIs. The 22-year-old possesses notable bat speed combined with natural pop, qualities that became clearly evident when he barreled 13 homers in 45 games in his rookie campaign last season with Class A Short Season Salem-Keizer. Getting a chance to see him work behind the dish with so many talented NL hurlers could also be a treat, with Bart possessing above-average defensive skills. He will join San Jose teammate Heliot Ramos, the Giants' No. 2 prospect, at the Futures Game. -- Katie Woo

Video: San Jose's Bart connects for two-run blast

Ian Anderson, right-handed pitcher, Braves: MLB.com's No. 26 overall prospect embraces the opportunity to be part of the Braves legacy in the All-Star Futures Game. "It's awesome," he told MiLB.com. "To follow Kyle Wright [2018] and Mike Soroka [2017], to see what they've done, it's definitely and honor." Hours after he was named to the showcase event, the third-ranked Braves prospect tied the team record with a career-high 14 strikeouts over seven innings as the Double-A Braves no-hit Jackson, 2-0, on June 28. Through 17 starts, the 2016 first-rounder is 6-5 with a 2.91 ERA, which is seventh-best in the Southern League. Opponents are hitting .200 against the 21-year-old right-hander, and he has allowed two or fewer runs in 12 starts while leading the circuit with 113 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings. Anderson is on some run with Mississippi, but he's yet to face a lineup like the one he'll see from the AL. Even an abbreviated look Sunday could tell us a lot about his recent ascent. -- Duane Cross

Video: Braves' Ian Anderson chalks up 14th K

Nolan Gorman, third baseman, Cardinals: Gorman tore through Midwest League pitching back in a monster April, batting .325/.389/.650 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. Though he's cooled over the last two months, missing part of June due to injury, baseball's No. 30 overall prospect just turned 19 in May and the Cardinals have already pushed him to Class A Advanced Palm Beach. His 60-grade power has been rated 70 by some scouts according to MLB Pipeline, and Gorman provides that pop from the left-handed side. Showcase events on All-Star Weekend are nothing new for Gorman, who took part in the MLB All-Star High School Home Run Derby in 2017. If nothing else, his batting practice should be a must-watch at Progressive Field. -- Tyler Maun

Video: Chiefs' Gorman smashes two-run homer

Gavin Lux, shortstop, Dodgers: In a Dodgers system that already has so many young contributors at the Major League level, Lux, 21, is next. Last year, Los Angeles' No. 2 prospect led all Minor League shortstops in average, on-base percentage and slugging with a .324/.399/.514 slash line and helped Double-A Tulsa claim the Texas League championship. He began this season with the Drillers and earned a promotion to the Pacific Coast League last week after hitting .313/.375/.521 in 64 games. And the early returns in Oklahoma City have been absurd. Maybe this showcase will be the first of many for Lux at MLB's All-Star festivities. -- Joe Bloss

Video: Dodgers' Lux hits first Triple-A homer

Alec Bohm, third baseman, Phillies: After last year's No. 3 overall pick turned in a somewhat lackluster debut campaign, he couldn't have delivered a much better start to his first full professional season. Bohm has soared his way up from Class A Lakewood to Double-A Reading over the first half, posting a line of .367/.441/.595 in 22 games with the BlueClaws, then .329/.395/.506 over 40 appearances with Class A Advanced Clearwater. Now with the Fightin Phils, he'll come to Cleveland already red-hot and ready to make a name for himself by trying to show off both his hit and power tools on the biggest stage. -- Jordan Wolf

Video: Fightin Phils' Bohm belts one

Dustin May, right-handed pitcher, Dodgers: The Dodgers' No. 3 prospect has been fairly consistent during his four professional seasons, with an ERA in the threes. But the 21-year-old struggled for Double-A Tulsa in May, posting a 6.19 ERA in 32 innings over six starts. He responded with a 2.70 ERA in June, though, and that stretch included a career-high 14 strikeout performance on June 22. Five days later, he was promoted to Triple-A. If the mop-topped redhead righty with a plus fastball/curveball/cutter combo continues his impressive run, he'll be quite fun to watch on Sunday in Cleveland. -- Shlomo Sprung

Video: Tulsa's May records 14th K

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More