Sunday marks the end of the first half of the regular season for the major leaguers. Marlins Park however, will play host to a different kind of game, the Futures Game. It’s a game played between rosters consisting of U.S.-born players against international-born players to showcase the up-and-coming prospects from each organization. The game serves as the best way to scout all of organization’s future major leaguers against other future major leaguers, since most minor league regular season games feature only one maybe two MLB players per team. It’s also a good way for dynasty and keeper league owners to look at prospects for their own roster.
Detroit made Beau Burrows (RHP DET AA) the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 June draft out of the Texas high school ranks. Since joining the organization he has added a fourth pitch, a slider that has the makings of giving him four above-average MLB offerings. Burrows pitched across two levels so far in 2017, posting a 1.23 ERA (2.57 FIP, 2.68 xFIP) in 58.2 innings in High-A over 11 starts. His 9.51 K/9 mixed with 1.69 BB/9 show his ability to be a frontline starter down the road. Double-A has been a rougher go in five starts with a 6.56 ERA (4.77 FIP, 4.47 xFIP) and 4.63 BB/9. Burrows will be 20 for the whole 2017 season, which gives him plenty of time to hone his craft in the upper levels of Detroit’s farm system before going the big club in the first part of 2020.
The youngest son of Dante Bichette, of Rockies fame, Bo Bichette (SS/2B TOR A) was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft at 56thoverall. Bichette got going right away on proving that his unorthodox swing could produce results even in pro ball. In rookie ball last season he compiled a .427/.451/.732 in 22 games with four homers, 36 RBI, 21 runs and three steals. That stroke continued into 2017 with a current slash line of .388/.448/.633 (.456 BABIP, .479 wOBA) with 10 homers, 59 runs, 51 RBI, and 12 steals. He still may change positions out of shortstop, possibly to second, or even left field, since his glove skills leave something to be desired. Bichette’s advanced approach at the plate should allow him to have success as he moves into the higher levels of the minors. Some AVG regression is assured but his power-speed combo should benefit the Blue Jays in a couple of years.
A Haitian-born outfielder known as Estevan Florial (OF NYY A) signed with the Yankees in March of 2015 during the international signing period. The now-19-year-old has started to find his bat, which possesses some of the best raw tools of anyone in the system, at Class-A Charleston this season. In 71 games, 309 PA, he has put together a .299/.385/.500 slash line with a .422 BABIP and .398 wOBA, 10 homers, 53 runs, 35 RBI, and 15 steals. On the surface those numbers look great, however he does carry a 30.4% K-rate and is a strong pull-hitter at 46% of the time. Florial is aggressive but has plus raw power and plus speed that make him a very intriguing guy to watch over the next few years as he works his way into the higher levels of the Yankees farm system.
Despite all of the call ups and trades the Cubs have made in the last three years. There is still a very elite prospect in the their system in Eloy Jimenez (OF CHC A+). The 20-year-old Dominican-born outfielder is making his second appearance in the Futures Game and with good reason. The last two years have really shown what he can do and this season, despite playing in just 39 games thus far, he has hit .276/.355/.510 with .302 BABIP, .381 wOBA, .234 ISO. Jimenez also has eight homers, 32 RBI, and 21 runs scored in that span. In 2016, his first time playing more than 60 games, he put up elite caliber numbers as well. He has worked on increasing his BB rate (5.4% in 2016, 10.4% in 2017) but he is still a big time pull hitter (49.1% in 2017), which could hinder his production in the upper levels. Ranked 15th in baseball, he should be up to the Cubs in 2019.
Philadelphia took a University of Arizona second baseman by the name of Scott Kingery (2B PHI AAA) in the second round of the 2015 draft. Grading out as a 55 Hit, 35 Power, 60 Run, 50 Arm, and 55 Field, he fits the standard mold of a middle infielder. However those grades make his 2017 season a bit of a mystery to behold. In 78 games between Double-A Reading (69 games) and Triple-A Lehigh Valley (nine games) he has combined for 22 homers, 70 runs, 52 RBI, and 21 steals. The runs, RBI, and steals match, to a degree what he had been doing previously, however the homers are a revelation. He had eight total round-trippers in 197 games prior to this season for context. Kingery’s power anomaly aside, his hit tool and speed making him a value-added play at second base likely starting next year.
Mike Soroka (RHP ATL AA) is a 2015 first round selection who has quickly moved up the ranks of the Braves farm system despite him still being just 19 years old. The 6’5”-225 lb. righty uses a three pitch mix of a sinking low-90s fastball, a sinking changeup, and a plus curveball to get hitters out with a high percentage of ground balls, 48.4% to be precise. He has already thrown 143 innings in a season, 2016, and is well on his way again this season with 88.2 through 15 starts in Mississippi. Soroka’s 7.31 K/9 this year and 7.87 K/9 last year suggest he isn’t a full ace-caliber arm but at no worse a very good number three starter, capable of pitching 200+ innings. Barring an injury, or setback, Soroka should join a very good young rotation in Atlanta, alongside Sean Newcomb, in 2019.