The 2016 MLB All-Stars Futures Game came to an explosive finish at Petco Park Sunday night as the World team emerged 11-3 victors, putting an end to a six-year losing streak to the rival U.S. team.
The Futures Game may lack the added incentive of deciding the location of the World Series, but it’s far from just an exhibition. Rather, the game that brings together the best minor leaguers is the first chance many of them have to showcase their worth on a national stage.
Astros 2015 No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman did just that with a triple, double and single in his opening three at-bats, before going hitless in his final two at bats to kill his bid for the cycle. Red Sox product Yoan Moncada will also have Sox fans drooling after a big game, including a two-run, eighth inning homer to put the World team up to stay.
Bregman admitted with a grin that the cycle was on his mind:
“Oh, yeah. Fourth and fifth [at-bats], I was trying for it. I shouldn’t have swung so hard.”
Three Bay Area prospects also shined. San Francisco Giants starlet Phil Bickford showed why he’s progressed so quickly up the rookie rankings since being drafted in 2015, throwing a scoreless inning and racking up two punch-outs. Despite giving up a single and walking a second batter, Bickford appeared very composed in the stretch and didn’t rush his pitches.
From the other side of the bay, 6-foot-4, 240-pound A’s prospect Ryon Healy bagged two hits including a double, with a walk and a strikeout rounding out his showing. Playing as the designated hitter, Healy was swinging confidently and hard every time he got up there. He may very well be a September call up for an A’s team in need of a more consistent DH than Billy Butler.
Giants pitcher Adalberto Mejia managed to jump off the bench for the World team in the ninth inning, with the game long over and done. But he iced the contest with a three-up, three-down inning, getting Bregman out to close it.
The game was close early. The U.S. team broke a scoreless stalemate in the third inning off of Blue Jays prospect Angel Perdomo to seize the early lead. Perdomo faced the top of the lineup and managed 2/3 of an inning while surrendering the opening two runs of the game.
Houston prospect and starter for the U.S. team Joe Musgrove thought everything started out well:
“We came out looking good and sometimes the other team adjusts and you don’t react quick enough. I was happy with my outing. I went out there and worked quick, like I said. I just have to keep refining everything and adjusting the little things [to make the next step].”
With one out in the frame, it was Bregman who — fresh off his triple —started things off with a long double to left center. Clint Frazier followed with an two-bagger of his own to tally the first run. After back-to-back walks loaded the bases, Dominic Smith grounded into a fielder’s choice to double the lead.
Asked about his performance, Bregman was all smiles:
“It was an honor to even get selected and start in this game. To get a few knocks, it’s even more of a blast.”
Off the bench for his first at bat in the fourth, Baltimore catching prospect Chance Sisco knocked a solo shot off of Blue Jays pitcher Francisco Rios. The centerfielder ranged back and made a jumping effort at the wall, but the straight-away center shot just eluded his outstretched glove.
Down three runs in the sixth, the World team began their move, tallying two runs in the sixth and eighth innings before dropping a seven spot in the ninth.
The two in the sixth came from RBI knocks by Cubs’ youngster Eloy Jimenez and Marlins’ Josh Naylor. In his franchise’s home stadium, Padres youngster Carlos Asuaje appeared to add to the lead until a frozen rope from center fielder David Dahl nailed the third run at the plate to preserve the 3-2 lead.
Bregman was not surprised at all by the level of defense:
“That’s the level of play these guys are all capable of. Every player here is just a guy who hasn’t made it up yet. There’s nothing less than great players out here.”
The U.S. team may have lost of some steam after the next scoring play in the eighth. After a runner reached base on an error, Red Sox stud prospect Moncada lifted a no-doubter two-run blast.
The World team simply unloaded on the seemingly beaten down U.S. squad in the ninth. After several RBI knocks, including a three-run shot courtesy of Jimenez, the U.S. finally stopped the flood.
“Yeah it sucks a little bit because we wanted to beat World. But I’m out there having fun and playing ball with great guys. There’s no reason to hang my head.”
With the victory, the World is now 7-11 all-time in the 18-year history of the Futures Game.