The MLB Futures Game is right around the corner. Some of the best and brightest of Minor League Baseball well tee off in San Diego this coming Sunday of All-Star Weekend to see if the World stars of tomorrow can take down the what the US has to offer.
Taking a look at the teams’ rosters will make it no easy task to pick a winner, as both teams are pretty stocked with talent. A position-by-position breakdown of who has the advantage may help shed some light on who may walk away triumphant.
Today, let’s take a look at the outfield prospects in the mix.
The World Team seems to be at a disadvantage right off the bat because they only selected five prospects as opposed to the six on the US Team. Their average age is also one year younger than the US Team, so experience may seemingly play to the US’s advantage in the long run.
The elder statesmen in the World Team’s outfield is the Kansas City Royals Jorge Bonifacio. Now 23 years old, the right-handed hitting outfielder — who primarily plays on the corners, but has played some centerfield this season — is putting together a career-season. After a big 2015 that saw him set career-highs in home runs (17) and doubles (30), as well as taking home Texas League All-Star MVP honors, Bonifacio has continued to rake this season while improving his contact rate. He is slashing .294/.358/.512 with 13 home runs and 15 doubles in his Triple-A Pacific League debut.
Eloy Jimenez is the most exciting prospect on the World Team and he is the youngest outfielder for either team at just 19 years of age. After signing for big money in 2013 as the top-rated international bat, Jimenez is finally putting up the numbers the Cubs had hoped he would. He’s slashing .330/.368/.527 with 10 home runs and 27 doubles for the South Bend Cubs.
Manuel Margot may be the most major league-ready prospect on the World roster; the Padres just need to make some room in their outfield for him, which may just happen at the trade deadline. The 21-year old was one of the key pieces in the Craig Kimbrel trade with Boston in the offseason and is enjoying a nice .299/.351/.425 season, swiping 23 bases in 31 attempts. He has shown he should be a nice addition to the top of the lineup.
Rounding out the World outfield is the Mariners 21-year-old Tyler O’Neill and the Rockies Raimel Tapia. O’Neill flashed positives and negatives in 2015, erupting for 32 home runs; however, he struck out 132 times while showing little plate discipline, getting on base at a mere .316 lick.
This year, he seems to have turned a corner, and although he still strikes out a ton, he has been more of an all-around threat at the plate, slashing a career best .303/.369/.532 with 15 home runs, silencing critics that felt he excelled in a power-happy California League last season.
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