It doesn't matter what language you say it in -- Japanese, Spanish, Dutch or English -- the only correct way to say "future" to the 50 prospects chosen to participate in the 2007 XM Satelitte All-Star Futures Game is "big leagues."
That these Minor Leaguers, representing 12 countries and all 30 organizations, were chosen for the ninth-annual Futures Game, to be played on Sunday, July 8, in San Francisco, shows that both the parent organizations and those who decide on the rosters believe they will indeed have a future in the Majors.
The rosters for the United States and World Teams were announced on Thursday in MLB.com's exclusive webcast. Major League Baseball, in conjunction with all 30 clubs, works with Baseball America and MLB.com to determine the players invited to the kick-off event for All-Star weekend.
Perhaps no one was happier than Indians left-handed pitching prospect Chuck Lofgren. The Redwood City, Calif., native not only gets to participate in a game that has been growing in stature and buzz factor every year, he gets to do so at a stadium just 25 miles from home. He's more than willing to play ticket broker for those close to him who have rarely gotten the chance to see him play during his pro career.
"I was honored, and I was shocked," said Lofgren about being named to the U.S. Team. "I appreciate going. It means a lot to me, my family and my friends. It shows where I've come along in my career. I'm going to make the most of it.
"I am looking forward to taking care of everyone. I never got to play in the California League. This will be my chance to let my friends come out and see me. I'm going to try to get as many tickets as I can."
Lofgren, currently playing for Double-A Akron, is one of three lefties on the U.S. staff. Orioles southpaw Garrett Olson is a level ahead in the International League. Two levels below him is Dodgers top pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw, who has been carving up the Midwest League in his first full season. From the right side, Matt Garza is the only member of the United States squad with big-legaue time under his belt, though hurlers like Luke Hochevar and Jeff Niemann should get there very soon. Yankees 2006 draftee Joba Chamberlain will continue to show how fast he is moving by joining the U.S. staff.
The U.S. outfield is absolutely stocked with top prospects. Repeat performer Cameron Maybin is joined by fellow 2005 first-round picks Jay Bruce, Colby Rasmus, Justin Upton and Jacoby Ellsbury.
"I've heard a lot about Clayton Kershaw. I'd like to meet him," Lofgren said. "I've met Justin Upton before, he's a good kid. He made trials with Team USA with me. I've played with him before."
The U.S. infield has plenty of pop as well. Devil Rays 2006 first-rounder Evan Longoria anchors a group that includes Ian Stewart, Steven Pearce, John Whittleman, Chris Coghlan and Adrian Cardenas. Bryan Anderson and J.R. Towles will handle the catching.
The World Team has representatives from 11 countries. Venezuela is sending eight players and the Dominican Republic comes in second with four players. Diamondbacks outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, from Venezuela, is back for his second Futures Game as is fellow outfielder and Curacao native Wladimir Balentien (Mariners).
Canadian first baseman Joey Votto (Reds), Taiwanese shortstop Chin-Lung Hu (Dodgers) and Venezuelan pitcher Carlos Carrasco (Phillies) are the other returnees for the World Team. Three World Team players -- the Nationals' Emiliano Fruto (Colombia), the Marlins' Rick Vanden Hurk (Netherlands) and the Cubs' Geovany Soto (Puerto Rico) -- have big-league experience.
The outfield has a pair of teenagers in the Mets' Fernando Martinez (Dominican Republic) and the Tigers' Gorkys Hernandez (Venezuela). Mets pitcher Deolis Guerra (Venezuela) and Braves shortstop Elvis Andrus (Venezuela) also haven't hit the big 2-0 yet.
The 2007 Futures Game will be held at AT&T Park in San Francisco on All-Star Sunday and will be broadcast live at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2.