WASHINGTON -- The All-Star Home Run Derby is scheduled for Monday, but nobody apparently told the prospects playing in the Futures Game on Sunday.The U.S. and World teams combined to hit eight homers -- four apiece -- but it was the American prospects who emerged victorious over their international foes,
WASHINGTON -- The All-Star Home Run Derby is scheduled for Monday, but nobody apparently told the prospects playing in the Futures Game on Sunday.
The U.S. and World teams combined to hit eight homers -- four apiece -- but it was the American prospects who emerged victorious over their international foes, 10-6, in the All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park.
Reds No. 3 prospectTaylor Trammell earned MVP honors after, of course, hitting a homer and smacking a triple in his two at-bats after entering the game in the fifth inning. The U.S. has won back-to-back Futures Games and eight of the last nine prospect showcases.
"It was a blessing," Trammell said. "I had a blast. We had a good group of guys today out here and everything. The guys in the outfield and the infield and the guys pitched very well today. Granted, I got MVP today, but I could care less about that. I'm really just excited that we got the win. [U.S. manager] Torii Hunter Jr. told us whatever you do, get the win. So we got the win today. I'm very happy about it and I'm glad we could have the bragging rights for a year."
Gameday box score
Trammell didn't waste time putting his stamp on the exhibition game in the nation's capital. With the score tied, 5-5, in the bottom of the sixth inning, the left-handed hitter connected on a 95.8 mph fastball from Indians right-hander Kieran Lovegrove -- who has not given up a long ball over 40 innings in the Minors this season -- and sent it over the wall in right-center. The ball traveled 438 feet, making it the longest of the eight homers.
MLB.com's No. 34 overall prospect thought he hit a another homer when he drilled a 2-0 fastball from Braves right-hander Touki Toussaint all the way to the wall in center in the eighth. Trammell even started to jog toward first base but had to kick into a sprint when the ball stayed in play. He wound up on third base for his second extra-base hit and scored the U.S.'s 10th run on a sacrifice fly by top Angels prospectJo Adell, though he was a bit ashamed when he got back to the dugout.
"I look at it as you always have to take the positives out of everything," Trammell said. "I got Jo an RBI. I'm going to laugh about that tomorrow. It's going to be very funny. I'm never going to hear the end of it from my dad. My brother's never going to let me have any rest with it."
Don't expect that feeling of shame to last for the 20-year-old outfielder, who's hitting .295 with six homers, 16 stolen bases and an .815 OPS with Class A Advanced Daytona.
"This is an All-Star Game," Trammell said. "I'm going to have as much fun as possible without going overboard or anything like that. I'm just having a blast. If I get into one, I'm going to have my TV time a little bit. At the same time, be respectful. I just had a really good time today. Very happy that my family got to see me perform today, that I got to showcase what I have to the world."
As good as Trammell's hardware-winning extra-base hits were, the most impressive long ball of the day came from U.S. teammate Peter Alonso in the seventh inning. The Mets' No. 2 prospect torched a 95.3 mph fastball from Phillies right-hander Adonis Medina -- the ninth pitch of the at-bat -- that landed deep in the left field stands at Nationals Park. According to Statcast, the blast was the hardest-hit ball of the day with a 113.6 mph exit velocity and left the bat with a launch angle of 46 degrees. Since Statcast was first used in 2015, no Major League ball hit with that velocity and that high of a launch angle has ever gone for a home run.
Greene, Adell realizing Futures quickly
"Oh, my God, it felt like a lightning bolt hit the tip of my bat," Alonso said. "That was awesome."
The home run total, which doubled the previous high for a Futures Game set in 2001 and 2007, wasn't completely one-sided. Dodgers No. 4 prospectYusniel Díaz was on track to take the MVP before his World team fell. The 21-year-old Cuban outfielder became the first Futures Game player to hit two homers since Alfonso Soriano did so in the first contest in 1999 at Fenway Park. Both of his long balls tied the game, with his two-run blast off Tigers right-hander Matt Manning forging a 5-5 deadlock in the fifth and his solo shot off Giants righty Shaun Anderson in the seventh making it 6-6.
Royals No. 3 prospectSeuly Matias, who leads the Minors with 26 homers for Class A Lexington, had the first of the day when he went to the opposite field to right off Yankees left-hander Justus Sheffield in the second inning. No. 13 White Sox prospectLuis Alexander Basabe had the most eye-opening homer for the World side when he took a 102.3 mph heater from Reds right-hander Hunter Greene out to right-center. That was the third-hardest pitch hit for a homer since 2008, according to Statcast.
Greene, who gave up one run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings as the second U.S. pitcher, threw 19 fastballs, all of which were at least 100 mph and topped out at 103.1. He wasn't alone in throwing heat. Jorge Guzman (Marlins), Mitch Keller (Pirates), Dylan Cease (White Sox), C.D. Pelham (Rangers), Dakota Hudson (Cardinals), Yoan López (D-backs) and Lovegrove each threw one fastball of at least 97 mph.
That was the explanation for the power surge, according to some of the players who went deep Sunday.
"If you look at the pitchers on the mound, they're throwing fuel," Alonso said. "I don't think anyone was throwing below 90 today. You had Hunter Greene throwing 103 up there today, which is absolute gas. But I think the trend is pitchers are throwing harder, so that means balls are going farther when people connect."
"I think everybody was bouncing energy off of everybody," added sixth-ranked Blue Jays prospectDanny Jansen, who along with Ke'Bryan Hayes provided the other U.S. homers. "You've got some of the best of the best here. Guys are throwing really hard. They're supplying the power. You just have to put a good swing on it. It was an awesome, electric game."
Whatever the case, the Futures Game has featured plenty of offense recently. The winning team has scored at least 10 runs each of the last four years, and there have been 35 runs scored in the last two contests alone.
In a game that's meant to reward the game's best prospects on the same field the game's biggest stars will take two days later, there's a lot more that successful players can take back to their Minor League teams than just a trip to a big league city. Increasingly, those taking the most back are those with the lightning-tipped bats.
"It's something to hold on to," Jansen said. "It's something you can store in the back of your head. You never forget that feeling of excitement, running the bases. You never want to forget what that feels like. If you're ever in a slump, now you have something to go back to. ... I was running around the bases and it was like I was on a cloud."
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.