Futures Game: Prospects we can't wait to see

Conforto, Reyes, Appel, Crawford and more ready for bright lights

Mets prospect Michael Conforto hit .345/.450/.560 in his first 23 games with Double-A Binghamton. (Gordon Donovan)

By MiLB.com Staff | June 27, 2015 5:13 PM

Mark Appel, RHP, US Team (HOU, Fresno): Everything is starting to come together for the 2013 first overall pick, and his return to form could culminate in the Futures Game. Appel struggled early in the season, but after holding Texas League foes to four earned runs in his last four starts, the 23-year-old right-hander made his Triple-A debut on Saturday. If the Arizona Fall League -- which is basically a month-long Futures Game -- is any indication to how Appel will perform in Cincinnati, fans are in for a treat. Facing fellow All-Stars like Matt Olson, Aaron Judge and Raul Mondesi, the Stanford alum posted a 2.61 ERA with 24 strikeouts in seven AFL starts en route to being named to the All-Prospect Team. The last time Appel pitched in a Major League ballpark was a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park last season that jumpstarted his career. -- Kelsie Heneghan

Michael Conforto, OF, US Team (NYM, Binghamton): Although this year's game may lack the power of 2014's event -- where Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant put on a show -- it does have its share of very good hitters. One of those is Conforto, a first-round pick a year ago. The Oregon State product has a polished approach at the plate, with 33 walks and 46 strikeouts in 69 games between Class A Advanced St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. With 31 extra-base hits, including nine homers, in his first full season, Conforto has shown good pop, and five of his 12 extra-base hits with Binghamton have been to the opposite field. The 22-year-old should give Mets fans a glimpse of the club's near future at Great American Ball Park. -- Robert Emrich

J.P. Crawford, SS, US Team (PHI, Reading Fightin Phils): Crawford is worth watching just for his outstanding ability at shortstop, but what I'll be watching are his at-bats. The 20-year-old left-handed hitter has been good at the plate in the past but has broken out this season, producing a .339/.440/.432 line with two homers, a triple and nine doubles in 45 games between Double-A Reading and Class A Advanced Clearwater. That alone should send his stock surging when prospect lists are updated later this summer, and scouts will be interested to see how his bat holds up against the talented World arms. With Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor in the Majors, Crawford is right there with Corey Seager as the most talented shortstop prospect remaining in the Minors. This Futures Game will be his biggest stage yet. -- Sam Dykstra

Alex Reyes, RHP, World Team (STL, Palm Beach Cardinals): The best thing about the Futures Game is batting practice, but this year's group doesn't have a Gallo, so we're going to have to settle for the next best thing. In this case, that's strong-armed starting pitchers packing all their heat into a one-inning stint. No pitcher is more likely to melt radar guns at this year's Futures Game than Reyes, who routinely hits triple digits and has registered 101 mph this year with Class A Advanced Palm Beach. Aroldis Chapman is the king of the radar gun at Great American Ball Park, but with only 10-15 pitches to throw, Reyes could be his greatest challenger yet. Let's hope that a sore shoulder, reported Friday, won't keep him from the mound in Cincinnati. -- Jake Seiner [UPDATE: Reyes was indeed replaced on the World roster by Cardinals right-hander Luis Perdomo.]

Raimel Tapia, OF, World Team (COL, Modesto Nuts): With one of the loudest -- and lesser known -- hit tools in the Minors, Tapia is an exciting bat to keep an eye on in the Futures Game. The 21-year-old lefty swinger has posted a career OPS of better than .800 through his first five professional seasons and is batting .306/.328/.461 so far this year in the California League. Tapia has been Modesto's primary leadoff hitter and brought his energetic style to that spot in the lineup, ripping 19 doubles, three triples and seven home runs. The Dominican outfielder might not be a household name yet, but he has extreme talent at the plate. Tapia received the first 7-grade that Baseball Prospectus scout Ryan Parker ever put on a hitter in an evaluation. As with Crawford, the Futures Game will be the biggest stage of Tapia's young career. -- Tyler Maun

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

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