Greg Golson and Gorkys Hernandez have never been to Yankee Stadium. But that's about to change come mid-July, and it's not because they were called up to The Show. In fact, neither player is affiliated with the Bronx Bombers.
Instead, Golson and Hernandez will represent their respective countries in the 10th annual XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game in New York on July 13 as part of Major League Baseball's All-Star celebration.
The 25-man rosters for the United States and World Teams were announced Thursday during MLB.com's webcast hosted by Jonathan Mayo and Vinny Micucci. Major League Baseball, in conjunction with all 30 clubs, works with MLB.com and Baseball America to select the players to play in the game.
Both Golson, named to the U.S. team, and Hernandez (World) were intrigued by their selection, considering both have missed time this season due to injury.
"It's awesome. Kind of caught me by surprise because I'm nursing an injury right now," Golson, a 23-year-old outfielder in the Phillies' organization, said. "For the most part, [I don't know] what I'm in for. I've never been to New York and I've never been in Yankee Stadium, so it's going to be a fun time for me."
"It was a surprise for me when the manager talked to me. He told me, 'You're going to the Futures Game,'" Hernandez, a Venezuelan outfielder in the Braves organization, who will be making his second trip to the Futures Game, said. "I called my father and mother [and said], 'I'm going to the Futures Game in Yankee Stadium in New York.' They said, 'Good for you.'"
With the Olympic Games in Beijing in August, a new format has been adopted for the Futures Game. Instead of selecting the U.S. squad based solely on prospect status, players were chosen as part of the 2008 Team USA Olympic trial team. Also different from years past is the length of the game. This year's contest will be nine innings and begins at 12:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN2. Prior to this season, the majority of the games were seven-inning affairs.
Leading the U.S. club will be skipper Davey Johnson, a four-time All-Star as a player and World Series-winning manager. Joining his staff are Dick Cooke, Rick Eckstein, Marcel Lachemann and Reggie Smith.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Johnson told MLB.com last week. "I love coaching young, talented guys who'll be in the big leagues one day soon. It's a great thrill."
For the World, two-time All-Star and four-time World Series champion Tino Martinez is slated to manage the team in his former stomping grounds.
"I'm thrilled to death," Martinez said. "It's quite an honor to be able to manage that team. To have the opportunity to do it in Yankee Stadium, it doesn't get any better than that."
Rafael Chaves, Pat Listach, Scott Little, Larry Parrish, John Stearns and Carlos Subero join him in the World dugout.
The U.S. infield is anchored by third baseman Mat Gamel, arguably the hottest hitter in the Minors. His .373 average is tops in the Southern League as well as his 67 RBIs. His teammate in Huntsville and fellow Brewers prospect, first baseman Matt LaPorta, leads the league in home runs (19) and is behind only Gamel in RBIs (59). The U.S.'s other first baseman, Chris Davis (Oklahoma), is pushing hard for a spot with the Rangers, as he leads the Minors in runs scored (68) and is hitting .333 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs in 31 games.
Playing up the middle for the U.S. will be shortstops Jason Donald (Phillies) and Chris Valaika (Reds) alongside Chris Getz (White Sox) and Cliff Pennington (Athletics).
Philadelphia's Double-A affiliate, the Reading Phillies, are best represented in the game, sending four players. Catcher Lou Marson (U.S.) and pitcher and three-time Futures Game selection Carlos Carrasco (World) join Golson and Donald.
"New York's got a lot of history; a lot of great players have played there. Hopefully, I can leave my mark there, too," Golson said.
"I try to play my game, try not to do too much, try to be myself and not put too much pressure on myself, so hopefully everything will work out."
Bryan Anderson (Cardinals) and Taylor Teagarden (Rangers) -- selected for the second consecutive year -- will aid Marson behind the plate.
Patrolling the U.S. outfield will be Pirates top prospect, Andrew McCutchen, who's hitting .281 with 21 stolen bases this season for Indianapolis. Joining McCutchen to shag balls near Monument Park will be Dexter Fowler (Rockies), Nate Schierholtz (Giants) and Denard Span (Twins).
Trevor Cahill (Athletics) is the crème of the U.S. staff. The right-hander leads the Minors in strikeouts (109) and was promoted to Double-A on Saturday. Brett Anderson (one of two left-handers selected), will join Cahill in Midland after a promotion yesterday.
William Inman (Padres) is another can't-miss pitcher for the U.S., as he's struck out 92 batters this season and boasts an 8-3 record with a 2.96 ERA.
Jake Arrieta (Orioles), Kevin Jepsen (Angels), Ryan Mattheus (Rockies), Kevin Pucetas (Giants), Clayton Richard (White Sox), Jess Todd (Cardinals) and Casey Weathers (Rockies) complete the 10-man U.S. staff.
The World Team features representatives from 10 countries, with the largest contingent hailing from the Dominican Republic (8). These players include: pitchers Julio Pimentel (Kansas City), Polin Trinidad (Astros), outfielders Wilkin Ramirez (Tigers), Fernando Martinez (Mets), second baseman Emilio Bonifacio (Diamondbacks), catcher Welington Castillo (Cubs), third baseman Juan Francisco (Reds) and first baseman Angel Villalona (Giants).
Martinez and Villalona are two of the biggest -- and youngest -- names on the roster, as the 19-year-old future Mets outfielder is hitting .280 with 19 RBIs in Binghamton and Villalona is considered the top prospect in the Giants' organization at just 17 years old.
Venezuela also has a formidable presence, including four members of the pitching staff: Carrasco, Jesus Delgado (Marlins), Henry Rodriguez (Athletics) and Hector Rondon (Indians). The other Venezuelans are Hernandez, Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus (making his second consecutive appearance), catcher Jesus Montero (Yankees), outfielder Gerardo Parra (Diamondbacks) and Rangers first baseman Max Ramirez (another Futures returnee).
Four hurlers of different nationalities round out the staff and are each the lone representative from their country: Seattle's Phillipe Aumont (Canada), St. Loius' Jaime Garcia (Mexico), Washington's Shairon Martis (Curacao) and Tampa Bay's Eddie Morlan (Cuba).
Toronto second baseman Scott Campbell (New Zealand), Boston outfielder Lin Che-Hsuan (Taiwan), Los Angeles shortstop Ivan DeJesus (Puerto Rico) and Minnesota third baseman Luke Hughes (Australia) complete the World roster.