Imagine being in a jewelry store with case after case of quality diamonds. Someone says, ďPick the one you like the best.Ē Are you kidding me? They all shine brightly. They all look flawless. They all look like they cost a fortune.
Thatís what itís like at the Futures Game. Gem after gem on display, but in this case, all are taken. All have been spoken for. We donít get to take home the one we like. Soon they will be on display in major league cities, glistening for all to see. We will all share in the joy of seeing them on display.
Here are my thoughts on this yearís Futures Game:
My most valuable player was Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. The actual MVP was Matt Davidson.
Now healthy, Yelich has the ability of taking the pitch up the middle with great force. He finds the left-center and right-center gaps. Heíll likely become a consistent home run hitter in the future. I look for him in a Marlins uniform this year. Thatís how good I think he is.
Henry Urrutia has a very nice stroke from the left side of the plate. He hit some long home runs in batting practice, flashing game-changing power. At 6-foot-5, Urrutia has a bit of Darryl Strawberry look. From Cuba, Urrutia is a bit challenged in the outfield, but donít forget - he plays for the Orioles. They can play a designated hitter.
Matt Carpenter sort of took the urgency out of Kolten Wongís chance to shine as a second baseman in St. Louis. He looks ready to me, and his line-drive bat hasnít slowed down yet. This one will be interesting to watch.
Iím very bullish on George Springer. Heís a good guy with a body that belies the fact heís a power hitter. He looks athletic, but not in the power hitting sense. He could be mistaken for a golfer, not a football or even a baseball player. Why wouldnít the Astros bring him up this season? They say they wonít. Iím not convinced.
Arismendy Alcantara blew me away with his power and his overall athletic ability. Iíve seen him before, and this guy has made tremendous strides. You can put him on your watch list with confidence. Heís at Double-A now for the Cubs and heís moving along nicely. He has 10 homers and 19 stolen bases - a very nice power/speed combination.
I donít think Xander Bogaerts will play shortstop for Boston. I just think heíll outgrow the position physically and the team really likes Iglesias. But Bogaerts has enough power to play third base or either corner. If they need a bat, Bogaerts may be in Boston this season. I doubt it, but who knows? Heís such a good player. He may have more power than people realize.
I got my first look at Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. I now get why the Astros were so excited to get him. Heís a natural athlete with power and speed. Heíll be a huge star. Heís a while away, but he could take his place among the long list of the new era shortstops when his time arrives. Heíll be a multiple category fantasy stud.
The best pitcher I saw was the Mets' Noah Syndergaard. He has amazing command of a high velocity, sinking fastball. He was a ground ball machine.
Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings and third baseman Matt Davidson are both men without a position in Phoenix. Didi Gregorius owns shortstop and Martin Prado is playing third base for the parent club. Davidson has power but is very stiff at third base. He would have to convert to first base, a position owned and operated by Paul Goldschmidt. Owings is ready for prime time. I think they both get traded. Maybe together.
Padres catcher Austin Hedges has a great arm. But so does Christian Bethancourt. One of the longest batting practice homers I saw came off the bat of Bethancourt. I am always surprised when people tell me Bethancourt canít hit. He can hit and he will hit. Somewhere, but maybe not in Atlanta.
Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton might be scary good for Minnesota. I mean scary good. They are opposite athletically. Sano is huge at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, but he looks much bigger than that. Buxton is an exaggerated 6-foot-2 but doesnít look it. Together, they have the ability to turn the club around. Buxton might bring Yasiel Puig excitement to Minnespolis.
C.J. Cron is a realist. He knows he is behind both Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo with the Angels, and he also knows he was playing in the Futures Game for all the other teams in baseball. He is a much more disciplined hitter than I thought. I like him, but I think he gets traded too.
The Rockies' Eddie Butler looks like a guy you would find out shooting hoops in a country yard. Heís such a warm and charming guy, and he can pitch. He is tall and thin at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds with a wiry body and magic arm. Heís a sleeper. I was shocked when I saw how easy the ball came out of his hand. Too bad heíll be pitching at Coors Field.
Iím still a big Francisco Lindor fan. I think heíll be a really, really good shortstop for the Indians. I donít see him switching positions, but I do think heís still a full year away even if they trade Asdrubal Cabrera.
Joc Pederson played basketball and football in high school. Heís a natural athlete. He certainly knows heís in a crowded outfield in Los Angeles. I like everything about this guy, but I hope for his sake heís part of a trade to somewhere heíll be able to play. He has an outstanding arm and baseball instincts. He could fetch a big prize for the Dodgers in a multiple player deal.
Taijuan Walker has much more command of his fastball than the last time I saw him in spring training. I still think heíll be in Seattle this year. Heís a quality starter with a three-pitch mix. Heís definitely a better starting pitching option for Seattle than James Paxton.
Addison Russell is the Athletics shortstop of the future. Period. He isnít going anywhere, but heís far from ready for the big leagues. Heíll progress well.
Phillies pitcher Jesse Biddle doesnít overpower hitters. But he knows how to pitch and heís the clubís highest -ranking starting pitching prospect. He now has an acceptable breaking ball to accompany his fastball. I see him as a mid-rotation starter, and not an ace.
Diamondbacks starter Archie Bradley is a huge presence on the mound. He can command his pitches better than the other D-Backs pitching prospects did at this stage of their development. Pitching in Double-A, I look for Bradley to be the next arrival on the Chase Field mound. Especially if the team continues to search for pitching. He can control his high-90s fastball much better than in previous looks.
People are making Matt Cain comparisons with the Giants' Kyle Crick. He is in High-A ball right now and his command and control have a way to go. I donít see Matt Cain yet. I see a good arm and a good head for pitching. And lots more development.
I still have the same concern as everyone else about Billy Hamilton. A switch-hitter now, he has to get on base to steal. Iíd like to see more walks (only 24 in 300 Triple-A at-bats). He misses tons of pitches. If you want stolen bases and runs, heís your guy. He may kill your batting average or on-base percentage.
Catcher A.J. Jimenez had Tommy John surgery in 2012 but he is back catching and hitting. Heís a fine looking athlete and the Blue Jays have a top prospect behind the plate in the player drafted out of a Puerto Rican high school.
Tigers first base prospect Jordan Lennerton is known less for power than his ability to get on base. He is a very selective hitter with an eye for a walk or a line drive to the gap. With Prince Fielder at first base, the Tigers will have some decisions to make with Lennerton. Heís already hitting well at Triple-A.
Another prospect stuck in a stacked position is the Pirates' Gregory Polanco. He plays center field. Good luck with that. He does have some pop and heís got a good arm. Perhaps a change to right field will be in order. He played center at the Futures Game.
So out of all these guys, hereís who I really like the best for fantasy purposes (in no particular order):
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