Futures Game players we're excited to see

Tatis, Adell, Greene ready to take big stage in nation's capital

Fernando Tatis Jr. will be participating in his first Futures Game on Sunday in Washington. (Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com)

By MiLB.com Staff | July 13, 2018 10:00 AM

The Futures Game is Sunday at Nationals Park, and MiLB.com writers are stoked. Below are their picks for the top players to watch in what will surely be another exciting prospect showcase.

Jo Adell, U.S. OF (LAA, Inland Empire): Taken with the No. 10 overall pick in last year's Draft, Adell has squarely met expectations in his full-season debut. The 19-year-old earned a promotion to Class A Advanced Inland Empire after having success with Class A Burlington during the campaign's first 25 games. Between the two stops, the Angels' top-ranked prospect is hitting .318/.369/.601 through July 11. His run production has taken off since reaching the California League -- Adell has 11 home runs with 34 RBIs for the 66ers, and the 6-foot-3 prospect hit in all but two games between June 5 and July 6. His plus speed, arm and power will all be on display in the nation's capital, where he will be the youngest of the five U.S. outfielders. -- Chris Bumbaca

Hunter Greene, U.S. RHP (CIN, Dayton): Last year's No. 2 overall Draft pick does not shy away from the big stage. He's the only player on either Futures Game roster to have been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, for crying out loud. He's also got the intense stuff that should stand out playing in an exhibition like Sunday's Futures Game in Washington. The 18-year-old right-hander routinely throws in the upper-90s and hits triple digits occasionally, so velo watchers could see some eye-popping numbers when he takes the hill. Greene is also hitting his stride in his first full season as he grows accustomed to throwing every fifth day. But MLB.com's No. 18 overall prospect has only faced Class A bats. Will the stuff (which also includes an above-average breaking ball) be good enough to compete against the more advanced bats of the World team? Or will those hitters humble him? Either way, a Greene appearance will be a must-follow. -- Sam Dykstra

Video: Greene picks up his seventh K for Dayton

Keston Hiura, U.S. 2B (MIL, Biloxi): After tearing up the Rookie-level AZL and Class A Midwest League in 2017, Hiura got off to a slow start at Class A Advanced Carolina in April before bouncing back in May to earn a promotion to Double-A Biloxi on June 1, one day after a five-hit, two-homer performance emphatically ended his time with the Mudcats. He also finally returned to the keystone position after DHing most of last season and this April due to lingering issues with his throwing elbow, and he's played second base in all but four games since his promotion. While a recent slump has left his Double-A numbers below his usual standards, Hiura is an exciting talent with a plus hit tool and solid traits across the board. There's a legitimate chance this will be the fast-rising 2017 first-round pick's lone Futures Game appearance, which is reason enough to tune in Sunday. -- Chris Tripodi

Carter Kieboom, U.S. SS (WAS, Harrisburg): Kieboom missed three months last year due to a hamstring injury but has made up for lost time this season, and then some. He earned a Carolina League All-Star spot after hitting .298/.386/.494 in 61 games with Potomac, and Kieboom was promoted less than a month ago to Double-A Harrisburg. The No. 2 Nationals prospect has only improved, compiling a .338 average at the plate in 18 games -- only two without a base hit. The No. 6 shortstop in the Minors could use the Futures Game, where he'll play in front of a friendly home crowd, as a springboard for a truly monumental season as he continues to rise to the challenge at each level. -- Nathan Brown

Peter Alonso, U.S. 1B (NYM, Las Vegas): In a franchise known for developing pitching, it's a slugging first baseman who could be the Mets' next big star. Following a standout collegiate career at the University of Florida, Alonso has mashed his way up the Minor League-ladder since New York selected him in the second round of the 2016 Draft. The 23-year-old now finds himself on the doorstep of Queens after tearing through the Double-A Eastern League, garnering a promotion to Triple-A last month. Alonso is hitting .277/.411/.520 and has already established career highs with 19 roundtrippers and 69 RBIs through 86 games, including a three-homer, seven-RBI performance on June 24 with Las Vegas. -- Michael Avallone

Buddy Reed, U.S. OF (SD, San Antonio): Don't let Buddy get hot. The 23-year-old boasts a power-speed combo that earned him a pair of California League Player of the Week honors in April and May with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and helped him log his first multi-homer game -- complete with an inside-the-parker -- on April 17. He posted 12 dingers and 33 stolen bases, most among all Futures' Game participants, on the circuit before being elevated to Double-A. The 2016 second-rounder from the University of Florida spent the winter prior to this season in the Australian Baseball League and batted .326 with a three-homer game on Jan. 14. -- Gerard Gilberto

Fernando Tatis Jr., World SS (SD, San Antonio): It took all of one month for Tatis to get adjusted to Double-A at just 19 years old. At the conclusion of April, the shortstop was a .177/.231/.333 hitter. Over the next two months, Tatis batted .333/.414/.592, leading the Padres organization in OPS over that span and clobbering 11 homers while driving in 26 runs. Tatis has rocketed up the San Diego ladder, conquering full-season Class A last year with Fort Wayne and skipping over Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore entirely this season. The son of a former big leaguer will get a chance to show off on the one of the game's biggest stages. -- Tyler Maun

Video: Tatis' diving double play for San Antonio

Jesus Luzardo, World LHP (OAK, Midland): When summing up Luzardo's season, the song lyrics, "I ain't here for a long time/I'm here for a good time" seem to fit. The southpaw has been capped at around five innings per outing, but he's thrived with over 11 strikeouts per nine innings and a sub-3.00 ERA. Joining Double-A Midland in late April and becoming a Texas League All-Star less than two months later, he now boasts a scoreless streak spanning four starts. Wielding a blazing upper-90s fastball, plus changeup and solid curveball, Luzardo stands out among the pack of arms on the World squad. It'll be interesting to see if Luzardo pitches with a chip on his shoulder, because he'll be coming to Nationals Park for the first time since Washington traded him last July. -- Andrew Battifarano

Enyel De Los Santos, World RHP (PHI, Lehigh Valley): Originally signed by the Mariners for just $15,000 in 2014, De Los Santos has already been traded twice but is still just 22. The right-hander has always had advanced command thanks to repeatable mechanics, but improved nutrition strengthened him and his fastball velocity ticked up to 94-98 mph. He limits damage by keeping the ball off the barrel and by curtailing free passes. He was already called up for his Major League debut this week and, after being sent back down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he could help the big club again after his trip to Washington, unless he's part of a package that brings in Manny Machado. -- Vincent Lara-Cinisomo

Jorge Guzman, World RHP (MIA, Jupiter): This name should sound vaguely familiar to baseball fans everywhere. When the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins for a package that was widely seen as too little, it was Guzman who headlined that package. What fans saw was a prospect who had just finished a season in the New York-Penn League, but what many didn't know is that Guzman is a 6-foot-2, 182-pound flame-thrower who regularly lights up the radar gun with triple digits and averaged the highest fastball of any starter in baseball last season. Now the third-ranked prospect in Miami's system, the 22-year-old continues to blow hitters away, and he will be looking to show the world that the Yankees parted with plenty in that trade. -- Rob Terranova

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Bryan Mata, World RHP (BOS, Salem): It's been a long time coming for the Red Sox to have an arm on which to dream. Jay Groome is now in the mix, but needed Tommy John surgery this spring and hasn't pitched in the Minors in 2018. For a franchise that hasn't produced an elite starting pitcher since Jon Lester more than a decade ago, any glimmer of hope from the mound is worth keeping an eye on. Mata has quickly emerged as one of the top prospects in the system, and it hasn't taken too much time. The 19-year-old boasts an above-average heater and changeup, and those could play up in a single game. Because of serious control issues this season, Mata's long-term future might belong in the bullpen, and an impressive performance Sunday could show what's he capable of in that role. -- Marisa Ingemi

Seuly Matias, World OF (KC, Lexington): Matias' bat exploded this year. After hitting 15 homers in his first 418 career at-bats, the Royals' No. 3 prospect drilled 26 dingers through his first 263 at-bats of 2018 to lead the Minor Leagues. Matias, of course, hasn't faced pitching above Class A, so the Futures Game will be the perfect time to see how that power matches up against top arms. But with power comes great strikeout potential, especially for Matias. The 19-year-old has tallied a 36.6 strikeout percentage this season, highest in the South Atlantic League. But that just means his Futures Game at-bats all but guarantee an electrifying moment for someone. -- Kelsie Heneghan

Leody Taveras, World OF (TEX, Down East): While he hasn't produced eye-popping numbers in the Minors since his stateside debut in 2016, Tavares remains an enthralling player -- and the top Rangers prospect -- because of the burgeoning five tools that many believe equip the speedy, switch-hitting outfielder to be Texas' center fielder of the future. He's the third-youngest player in the Carolina League, and many believe more power will develop as the 19-year-old matures. Like his elder cousin, former big-leaguer Willy Taveras, his speed makes him a threat on the bases and allows him to cover significant ground in the outfield, and that tool should be on display Sunday. -- Josh Horton

Luis Urias, World 2B (SD, El Paso): It's only natural for anybody who's seen Urias play anywhere to want to see him play on a bigger stage. Listed at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, the middle infielder has the athleticism typical of a pro athlete with his body type, but his hitting is what really ices the cake. Because he exhibits incredible plate discipline -- he entered the season with more walks than strikeouts since turning pro in 2014 -- the Sonora, Mexico, native tends to get a lot of pitches to hit. And despite his size, he can drive the ball. His high leg kick makes him look locked and loaded against any pitcher, and he laces knocks all over the field. -- Josh Jackson

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

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