How good a showcase is the Futures Game? Last year's contest featured eight players who have already participated in the big leagues, including Alex Gordon, Troy Tulowitzki, Yovani Gallardo, Homer Bailey, Phil Hughes, Ryan Braun, Billy Butler and Matt Lindstrom. Fans are usually treated to a succession of pitchers throwing in the low to mid-90s, and the lineups are nearly always full of five-tool bats, big power hitters, and former first-round picks.
This year, the rosters -- especially the hitters -- are a bit down from last year, a function of all of this season's quick promotions of prospects from Double-A and even high-A to the majors. So players like Andrew Miller and Tim Lincecum who skipped or barely played in Triple-A are not available to participate. In addition, the rosters were diminished by the late promotions of Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Garza, who were selected but had to be replaced, as well as the injury problems of a lot of top prospects this year who might have been considered were they 100 percent, such as Brad Lincoln, Adam Miller and Kyle Drabek.
The U.S. roster
Any outfield that has Cardinals prospect Colby Rasmus as its fourth outfielder has to be pretty strong, and the U.S. team's outfield is stacked. It's headlined by 2006 participant Cameron Maybin, a five-tool outfielder who was the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft. Maybin is a potential superstar who projects to have above-average power and who can either be a plus defender in center or, if he outgrows it, a plus right fielder due to his strong and accurate arm. Maybin's biggest question is how much he'll hit for average, as he's had some trouble making contact and his pitch recognition isn't great.