A week ago I wrote about the Minor League Future Stars game, which was played this Sunday in advance of the MLB All-Star game. The game features minor league players from any level of experience, chosen for their “potential” by reps from the Show along with writers from Baseball America and “MLB staff”, which probably means Bud Selig. The setup is World vs. USA, which is pretty self-explanatory.
I was able to watch the game on ESPN2 HD and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. Unlike their MLB All-Star counterparts, these guys came to play hard, get dirty, and try to make an impression. The standard game length is only seven innings, so there were plenty of substitutions, but a few players stood out anyway.
The cat in the upper left-hand corner is Taiwanese shortstop Chin-Lung Hu. In my previous post, I, true to my fashion, made fun of his name. Well, I’m going to (mostly) stop that, because this kid is a firecracker. The Dodgers prospect drove in the first run of the game by smacking a double that scored Canadian leadoff hitter Michael Saunders, and followed that up with an aggressive move to third that resulted in a stolen base and a chance to score on a Joey Votto (Cincinatti) sac fly.
Saunders (Seattle) and Hu did almost the exact same thing when the order came around again, but with Saunders stealing a base, putting him in position to score from second when Hu slapped a single past the infield. The only dim spot came when a routine fly ball was bobbled between Hu and Mexico’s Freddy Sandoval, who no doubt forgot to confer about which language would be used to shout “mine!” before the game began.
Hu was named the Larry Doby player of the game, which no doubt made One More Dying Quail’s heart grow three sizes that day.
The lone bright spot for the U.S. team was Diamondbacks outfield prospect Justin Upton. The 19-year-old #1 draft pick bashed a Faustino De Los Santos (White Sox) pitch into the seats. Temporary teammate John Whittleman (Texas), contributed another solo shot, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The World Team held the U.S. team down with dominant pitching and then piled on offense with homers from Canadians Votto and James Van Ostrand (Astros). The final score was 7-2 in the multi-national team’s favor.
I highly recommend watching this game next year if you see the chance. In-game statistics claimed that minor-leage rosters actually are divided nearly 50-50 between natives and players born outside the U.S. So, aside from the A-ball guys (exception = Upton) looking overwhelmed, it’s really not as contrived as it sounds. The guys play hard, and want to win, and you’ll be in the know when one of them gets called up late this year.
You can even say “Everybody Chin-Lung tonight!”, if you want.