On paper, the World Team looked inferior to team USA in terms of quality and quantity. Paper is stupid and outdated which is why we have computers and digital cameras. The World Team dominated the stars and stripes by a score of 11-3, and they looked darn good in the process.
Here’s are notes on how every member of the World Team looked on Sunday afternoon, and why if you’re a fan of a team with some of these players, you should be pretty excited.
Manuel Margot, OF, San Diego Padres: Margot never really surprises; and I mean this in the most positive way possible. He hit plenty of line drives in BP, showing off his quick wrists and bat speed, and then had a few quality at-bats against the real stuff. He also made the second best catch of the night (more on that later), robbing Carson Kelly of a homer. He’s a future top of the order hitter, one who has a high floor because of his speed and glove.
Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies: I was hoping that the crouch would be gone with two strikes, it was not. That’s really the only negative I have to say about him, though. The swing is beautiful, and he was rarely caught off-balance. As good as David Dahl is, I think Tapia is the best-hitting outfielder in the Colorado system.
Yoan Moncada, 2B, Boston Red Sox: This was my first live look at Moncada, and during BP, I came away a bit disappointed, he popped balls up and didn’t appear to be taking it too seriously. Then the game happened and… this guyis going to be a star. The bat speed is plus, there’s a natural loft, and he’s an easy plus runner who gets great jumps. His one gaffe in the field was on a fantastic play that he couldn’t make the throw, but he also showed off how strong his arm is while doing it. Man. What a player.
Tyler O’Neill, OF, Seattle Mariners: O’Neill showed off his impressive pop during BP, as the ball jumped off the bat from a swing with above-average bat speed. In the game, however, he had a forgettable day. He didn’t make hard contact, and he badly misplayed a ball in the outfield. Several scouts told me O’Neill is one of the breakout stars of 2016, but that wasn’t on display on Sunday night. It happens.
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Texas Rangers: Like O’Neill, Guzman has had a breakout season in 2016, and it was obvious why. He’s added strength to his swing, and he showed above-average power potential from the left side of the plate. He also showed a strong approach at the plate, drawing a walk and making pitchers work. I’m not sure if he’s a first-division first baseman, but a starter there someday isn’t out of the question.
Yandy Diaz, 3B, Cleveland: Diaz was not supposed to be here (he received the call when Jeimer Candelario received The Call), but he looked like he belonged. He has a swing that allows him to shoot line-drives to the opposite field—as he did today—and he looked like a long-term third baseman in my limited look. He’s not gonna hit for a ton of power, but with an above-average hit tool and a chance for above-average defense, he doesn’t have to.
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees: Sanchez showed the plus power and the strong throwing arm he’s always shown, but what I was most impressed with was his improved receiving skills. He didn’t stab at the ball like he used to, and his hands appeared softer. This was just one look, but several scouts had mentioned similar things, so it’s good to see. He’s going to be a starting catcher someday.
Jorge Bonifacio, OF, Kansas City Royals: Let’s start with the positive. Bonifacio drew two walks, and despite the strikeouts, it’s evident the approach has gotten better. Unfortunately, every tool but the arm looked below-average to me, so I think you’re looking at a backup corner outfielder. There are worse things, but, I’d prefer to not see them in the Futures Game.
Willy Adames, SS, Tampa Bay Rays: This was another guy I was getting a first live look at, and I came away impressed. He’s very balanced at the plate, and the strength in his swing is obvious. He also held his own at shortstop, and showed an above-average arm that played up because of a quick release. A star he is probably not, but a solid starting shortstop is well within reach.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago Cubs: My. Goodness. Gracious. Honestly, this was the most impressive prospect I saw on Sunday. That doesn’t mean he’s a better prospect than Moncada or Benintendi or Alex Reyes, but today? There was no one better. The power is so easy. You saw it on the bomb he hit in the game, but it was even more evident in BP when he was taking balls out to right-center with a flick of the wrist. He also impressed me with his athleticism, and that catch he made crashing into the wall is one of the best I’ve seen in person. There’s obviously some work to be done, but this was a ton of fun to watch.
Josh Naylor, 1B, Miami Marlins: Naylor treated his BP like it was a home run derby, and he showed impressive raw power from the left side. In the game, however, he showed off his impressive feel for hitting, lining a single off of southpaw Nate Smith. He’s not a good athlete and I’d feel more comfortable placing him at the DH position than first base — though he did make a dandy of a play tonight — , but he can certainly hit.
Carlos Asuaje, IF, San Diego Padres: Asuaje looked like a future utility infielder, because he is a future utility infielder. Take that as a compliment more than a complaint; he made tons of hard contact throughout BP, and there’s more strength in his swing than I anticipated. If you are looking for a high-average guy who can play second and third base and don’t mind that he can’t make a big difference on the bases, Asuaje will help you. Again, I’d prefer a little more upside in the Futures Game. I’m selfish.
Francisco Mejia, C, Cleveland: Mejia has long been a personal favorite, but I don’t think I was prepared for how much improvement he’s made. The swing is shorter with better bat speed, and he’s using those strong wrists to get through the zone and make a ton of hard contact. He also picked up a hit in the ninth to extend his hitting streak, unless you believe this game doesn’t count. I think it counts.
Dilson Herrera, 2B, New York Mets: I guess they needed a backup third baseman? All due respect to Herrera, but, I thought this game was about prospects. Herrera is what he is: A utility infielder who can play all over the infield with solid-average power from the right side. This was the choice over Ozzie Albies, though? Seriously?
Amed Rosario, SS, New York Mets: Rosario makes everything look easy. He’s the type of guy that a lazy scout/fan will accuse of being lazy himself, but in reality it’s just a case of everything being smooth. The swing was easy, the actions at shortstop were easy, the opposite-field single was pretty easy. It all adds up to a first-division shortstop, and he makes it look, well, easy.
Alex Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals: If Jimenez was the most impressive player I saw on Sunday, Reyes is a close second. He touched 101 as easily as you and I touch our fingertips together, and he showed off a plus curveball and solid change for good measure. If the Cardinals wanted to move him to the bullpen this year, he could be death to all hitters. He might be ready to start, though.
Joe Jimenez, RHP, Detroit Tigers: Jimenez only got to throw two pitches; a 96 mph fastball, and an 87 mph change. Tough to give you too much on just two pitches, but just look at his numbers: he’s one of the best relief prospects in all of baseball.
Angel Perdomo, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays: This was rough. Perdomo has a projectable frame and has put up big numbers at Low-A Lansing, but he didn’t have it today. He showed a fastball that touched 92, and a slider that would grade as fringe-average at best. He didn’t command either pitch, and the arm path is long enough that I think right-handers might be quite happy to see him pitching.
Francisco Rios, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays: He wasn’t terribly impressive either, but compared to Perdomo he was Greg Maddux mixed with Pedro. He touched 96 mph with his fastball, but he didn’t command it, and his slider and what I believe was a change were both only average pitches. He’s been a breakout star of 2016 for the Toronto system, but again, today wasn’t really a great example of why.
Chih-Wei Hu, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays: Wei-Hu made my best friend Dominic Smith look silly on a palmball, so I’m tempted to drop him down a grade or two. No, not really. The palmball had quality fade and he showed a couple other solid pitches in the process. The upside is a fourth starter, but I could see that being his floor, too.
Ricardo Pinto, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies: Pinto didn’t give up anything against the two batters he faced, but he should have; as he was saved by Margot on the Carson Kelly almost-homer. He’s another guy who didn’t get to throw a lot of pitches, but he’s shown a plus change in the past, with a fastball that’s in that general vicinity as well. It probably plays best in relief, as the breaking-ball needs quite a bit of work.
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP, Washington Nationals: Filthy. Lopez touched 100 with his heater, and he showed a plus curveball with good depth in the process, while doing a good job of locating both offerings. He didn’t get any strikeouts, but don’t let that fool you: Lopez is a swing-and-miss machine who is going to pile up the Ks, be it as a reliever or starter.
Jharel Cotton, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: Cotton was the benefactor of (Eloy) Jimenez’s fantastic play, and only got to face that one batter. Like (Joe) Jimenez, it’s not fair to judge a darn thing on such a small sample size, but Cotton has one of the better changeups in minor league baseball, and it plays up from an easy 93-95 mph fastball. The curveball is the only thing that keeps him from not being a future no. 3 starter, but the fastball/change combination are good enough that we could see him start someday.
Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates: Sigh, I’m so sick of all these Lithuanian pitching prospects. Neverauskas showed a 95-98 mph fastball from his powerful right arm, and he located his heater as well. He also apparently throws a quality cutter, and mixing that in with his plus-plus heater makes it easy to project him as a potential high-leverage reliever someday.
Adalberto Mejia, LHP, San Francisco Giants: Mejia closed things out for the world team, and the USA team looked pretty checked out after giving up 68 runs in the top of the ninth. The fastball and slider both looked like above-average pitches, and he’s done an impressive job of improving his ability to repeat the delivery, which may be due to being in better shape. You’re looking at a backend starter—maybe a reliever if everything goes wrong—but he deserves a lot of credit for the improvement he’s shown over the past couple of seasons.
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