The MLB Futures Game rosters were announced on Thursday and there are some great prospects that will participate in the game on Sunday July 12th. There are some big names that have graduated from the minor leagues and the top Dodgers prospects (Corey Seager and Julio Urias) aren’t in the game, but there are plenty of guys to tune in for. We will break down a position group breakdown for both the World and USA rosters each day, and today we start with the World team’s pitching staff.
Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins – RHP – Berrios is the top pitching prospect left in the minors for the Twins with Alex Meyer to make his big league debut on Friday. While he is playing for the World team, Berrios is from Puerto Rico and was subject to the MLB Draft in 2012, where he was selected in the supplemental portion of the first round (32nd overall) by the Twins. This is Berrios’ second Futures Game and pitched in the World Baseball Classic in 2013. He has a fastball that can touch 98 but works mainly 92-94 with some run. He has a curveball with more of an 11-5 break rather than 12-6, but he can vary the speed and amount of break on the pitch when he needs. He also has a changeup that rates above average and has shown solid control of all his pitches. He should be in the Triple-A soon, but is still in Double-A where he has a 3.23 ERA in almost 84 innings this season.
Edwin Diaz – Seattle Mariners – RHP – Another Puerto Rican that was selected in the 2012 draft, Diaz has never been as highly touted as Berrios, drafted 98th overall. Diaz still hasn’t seen time above High-A in his career, but he does have two very good pitches. His fastball can get to 97-98 range, but works most often between 91-93. He has a low ¾ arm slot that hides the ball well, making it play like a harder fastball than the radar guns reflect, and has some arm-side run to it. His slider can be a plus pitch and he has a change that is an average pitch at this point in his development. His delivery is not very fluid and shows inconsistency, which lends him to leave his slider up in the zone and flat at times, and can have a negative impact on his control too often.
Jarlin Garcia – Miami Marlins – LHP – After signing at 17, Garcia didn’t make it to full-season ball until his age 21 season, last year. He does a good job of adjusting the speed on his fastball, working regularly in the 90-95 range. He has shown the makings of a plus curveball, but he hasn’t shown the feel for it over the past season and a half. Since he lost the feel for his curve, he has added a slider, but it still has a lot of development left in it. He has shown plenty of command with his fastball, but that is lacking with his other pitches. His need for development was demonstrated in December when he was exposed to, and passed on during the Rule 5 Draft.
Juan Gonzalez – Los Angeles Dodgers – RHP – The lone pitcher on the World Team currently in Triple-A, Gonzalez has put in more than 625 minor league innings in his career. Originally signed by the Colorado Rockies in 2007, he elected minor league Free Agency in 2013 and was quickly signed by the Dodgers. He has become a pure reliever since signing with the Dodgers after starting most of his time in the Rockies organization. He might have the smallest pedigree in terms of prospect status, and is still not on the 40-man roster despite being 25 and in his ninth minor league season. Since becoming a reliever, he has posted an ERA above 2.16 in just one stop with the Ddogers, and has given up just one run in 17 innings at Triple-A. He could very well earn himself a big league call-up this year, but will have minimal long term impact.
Wei-Chieh Huang – Arizona Diamondbacks – RHP – From a guy in his ninth minor league season to a guy in his first, Huang was signed out of Taiwan in 2014 and made his stateside debut this year with Kane County in the Midwest League. He has a fastball, change, slider, and curve mix, with his fastball being his best pitch. He works 89-94 with the fastball and has good control of that pitch. His secondary offerings are inconsistent currently, but his slider has flashed plus potential, flashing 80-83 with good tilt. His change could become a solid average pitch, but his curve serves more of a get-me-over pitch than a real weapon. He only has about 32 innings of pro ball under his belt, but he has only allowed three earned runs. He has great numbers, but still an incredibly small sample size.
Joe Jiminez – Detroit Tigers – RHP – Jiminez is in his first season of full-season ball and is a pure reliever, but has a massive fastball. The Puerto Rican was signed in 2013 after going undrafted. He was a low-90s fastball guy when coming out of high school, but has matured into a guy that sits 97-98. He also has a powerful slider to pair with his fastball and should someday fit in well at the back end of a big league bullpen. He has the numbers of a power reliever too with opponents hitting just .184 against him over parts of three seasons, with a WHIP of 0.92, ERA of 1.77, and in 66 pro innings he has struck out 100 batters while walking just 18.
Jairo Labourt – Toronto Blue Jays – LHP – Labourt started in full season ball last year, but his lack of control prompted a demotion to extended spring before heading out to Vancouver once short season ball began. Once there, he led the Northwest league with 10.3 strikeout per nine. He is striking less than a batter per inning this season in the Florida State League, and his walk rate is becoming a concern again. His fastball sits in the low 90s with both sink and arm-side run. He also has two versions of a slider, one harder version with limited break, and another a bit slower but with greater break. He also has a change that needs a lot of improvement if he is going to stick in the rotation, but his slider-fastball duo could make him a solid reliever down the road.
Keury Mella – San Francisco Giants – RHP – Mella is one of the best prospects in the Giants system, and he has had success at every stop along the way. He has a mid-90s fastball that can touch 97. He lines up on as far over to the first base side of the rubber as he can to create a cross-fire delivery angle that makes his fastball play up even more. His curve has an 11-5 break and has shown plus potential. Mella has shown solid control with both his plus pitches as well as his change that rates as average. There is still some question as to whether he will be a starter or reliever, but the Futures Game will be just the second time in his career he has come into a game out of the pen.
Frankie Montas – Chicago White Sox – RHP – Montas is a guy I really like, but as a future bullpen arm. Thus far in his career, Montas has come out of the bullpen 12 times, but just four since 2010. He worked in the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League and looked very good in that role. His fastball has touched triple digits, and it plays there even more during his short outings. His slider can work up to 88 and has wipeout capability. As a starter, he mixes in an average change that will likely be scrapped once he becomes a full time reliever. He may be listed at 6’2” and 185 lbs., but that is nowhere near accurate. He is probably closer to 225 lbs. with a very thick lower half. He could very well turn into the closer of the future for the White Sox.
Alex Reyes – St. Louis Cardinals – RHP – The top Cardinals prospect yet to get any big league time, Reyes may have the best fastball in the organization. He sits around 95 but has flashed triple digit ability with his fastball. Despite being long and lean, he has a repeatable delivery and the fastball comes with ease. He also shows a curve that flashes plus in most of his outings and could become an elite pitch. He has a changeup that is continuing to improve and should be a solid pitch in time that will give him a great repertoire as a starter. He still has to work on improving his command of all his pitches, but he is still just 20 and has time to do just that.