On Saturday, July 8 at 7:00 p.m. ET the next generation of MLB superstars will take the field at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park for the 2023 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
This game has always been a showcase of the top young talent in baseball, and many participants have gone on to superstardom.
This year’s roster is loaded with young MLBbros waiting to burst onto the major league scene.
Here is a list of some Black players participating in Saturday’s showcase.
Harry Ford – C, Seattle Mariners
The 12th overall pick in the 2021 MLB draft, Ford is the top prospect in the Mariners’ farm system. He is currently ranked as the 48th prospect in baseball by MLB pipeline and No. 64 by Baseball America. He began to turn heads when he represented Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic and will look to join fellow black backstop Bo Naylor in the Bigs soon.
A 6th round pick in the 2021 MLB draft, third baseman Justyn-Henry Mallory was in line to join several other players who were born or played their college ball in Georgia to don a Braves uniform, but with Austin Riley signed long term he was eventually shipped to the Tigers.
He has an .844 OPS with 76 hits, 13 home runs and 50 RBI on the season and is expected to join the major league squad before the season is over.
Kyren Paris – SS/2B, Los Angeles Angels
A 2nd round pick in the 2019 MLB draft, Paris is hitting .234 with 11 home runs, 29 RBI, 20 stolen bases, 39 runs scored and 42 walks so far this season for the Angels minor league affiliate. A staple in the top third of the lineup, many have projected Paris to be a second baseman by the time he is ready for the majors.
While all the talk out of Oakland has been about their pending move to Sin City, Lawrence Butler has begun to turn heads as the latest young Athletics prospect to flash big league potential. He has risen to top 10 in their farm system after posting a .829 OPS with 10 home runs, 43 RBI and 50 runs scored so far this season.
Hence recently received the call up to Double-A after posting a 2-1 record with a 2.81 ERA this season in Peoria, Illinois. Last year he posted a 1.38 ERA in 16 starts with their then Single-A affiliate out in Palm Beach. The 63rd pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Hence will be one of nine pitchers to represent the National League on Saturday.
The Future Is Now | You Can Check These Brothers Out Early
Massey is another future Black ace looking to put his talents on display in Seattle. A 7th round pick in the 2022 Mob draft, Opponents have struggled to make contact against the Chicago native this season, hitting just .221 against the righty.
“I’ve Had My Ups And Downs Throughout My Career” | Pittsburgh Pirates 2022 Draft Pick J.P. Massey Is Establishing Himself In Minors
Bliss may be one of the smallest prospects in stature (He’s listed at 5’ 6, 165) but he has been prolific at the plate this season for the Diamondbacks Double-A affiliate. Bliss is slashing .349/.400/.586 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 4 triples and 163 total bases so far. He is expected to make his MLB debut in 2024.
BJ Murray, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Known by many as simply BJ, Bertram Gerard Alfonzo Murray Jr. could potentially add to the legacy of Bahamian MLBbros like current big leaguer Jazz Chisholm Jr. has done. Murray has hit 7 home runs and 17 doubles on the season while switch hitting for the Cubs Double-A affiliate.
Justin Crawford – OF, Philadelphia Phillies
The number 3 prospect in the Phillies pipeline, Crawford has flashed that same speed that helped his father Carl become a four-time MLB All Star and Gold Glove winner. The 19-year-old is currently hitting .338 with a .388 OBP and 33 stolen bases on the season. He has yet to hit a home run but has still managed to collect 10 doubles and 88 total bases.
Victor Scott II – CF, St Louis Cardinals
Victor Scott II is another young Black prospect in the Cardinals farm system looking to make a name for himself on the biggest stage. His numbers at the plate won’t blow you away, but his 52 stolen bases this season are certainly something that will catch your attention. With the rise of stolen bases given the new rules, a player with Scott’s speed could add another threat to the Cardinals lineup.
On July 11th, MLB’s brightest stars will all gather in the Pacific Northwest for the 2023 MLB All-Star Game at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, home of the Mariners. Three days prior to the big one — on July 8th — the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will have center stage. That game is MLBs annual showcase of the best prospects throughout all of baseball.
One of this year’s participants will be Washington Nationals slugger James Wood, who’s making quite an impression in the minors.
Wood, who stands an imposing 6-foot-6, hits like a bulldozer and runs like a gazelle. In fact, he’s been so impressive in the Nationals’ farm system since the team landed him in the blockbuster trade that sent superstar Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres, the belief is he could make an appearance with the big club late this season, or definitely be an everyday member in 2024.
Wood’s progression has drawn praise from Washington Nationals brass who are enamored with his combination of size and skill, such as director of player development De Jon Watson.
“I’ve never had a player this tall as graceful as he is,” said Watson.
Wood Is Nationals No.1 Prospect And No.5 Overall Prospect In MLB
Wood who was called up to Double-A Harrisburg in late May, is batting just .236 but he’s also produced four homers, one triple, six doubles and 16 RBI. In 2023, as a whole he’s batting .270 with 13 dingers, 55 RBI and 13 stolen bases. His .897 OPS is one of the highest in the minor leagues.
Since being taken with the 62nd pick of the 2021 MLB Draft, Wood has a batting average of .304 with 28 long balls, 139 RBI and 43 stolen bases, and a .938 OPS.
One reason for Wood’s success is his ability to understand the strike zone.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez raves about Wood’s uncanny ability to dissect the strike zone, which for young hitters is never easy as they advance up the ranks.
“He understands the strike zone. The biggest thing for young hitters is understanding what you’re really good at and what you can hit really well. Accepting your walks,” Martinez said. “And he’s done that. The last person we had like that was Soto.”
That’s high praise when you consider how Soto is perceived in D.C. and around MLB.
Wood Has Been Compared To Yankees Superstar Aaron Judge
Because of his size, power, and graceful nature with how he plays the game of baseball, Judge has been compared to New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge, the reigning AL home run king after his 62-homer 2022 season. While Wood understands the comparison he also says their swings are too different for him to really model anything after the Yankees slugger who signed a $360M extension last offseason.
“He’s ridiculous. He’s a special player,” he said. “So even getting those comparisons, it’s a blessing.”
For the Nationals, just having a player like Wood in the fold is a good cornerstone piece of their rebuild. And while he may or may not reach the level of Judge as a player, the folks in D.C. no they have a good one.
MLBbro.com is always on the watch for the next Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts or Marcus Stroman to wow us with their superstar abilities.
And the next chance to peek into the future is during the All-Star festivities in Seattle at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on July 8th.
The All-Star Futures Game, which started in 2019 to replace the U.S. vs. The World game, will feature the top minor league players in a National League vs. American League format.
The respective rosters went public earlier this week and were announced on various Major League Baseball media platforms such as MLB Network Radio and MLB TV.
MLBbro and Seattle Mariners Icon, Harold Reynolds who will manage the American League Futures team, discussed the upcoming game on MLB TV.
Melanated Mound Marauders On Deck
Here at MLBbro.com, we’ll be keeping a close eye on two pitchers who will be part of the festivities.
J.P. Massey will be representing the Pittsburgh Pirates while Tink Hence puts his talents on display wearing the St. Louis Cardinals colors.
Seven of the players playing in the game have participated in MLB and USA Baseball development programs. MLBbro pitcher J.P. Massey played in the Breakthrough and the DREAM series.
J.P. Massey has been named the FSL Pitcher of the Month! Massey went 1-0 with a 0.72 ERA in 5 starts as he began the month with a 17.0 innings scoreless streak. Massey did not allow more than 1 run in a start in May and had three starts with two or fewer hits allowed. Congrats! pic.twitter.com/ygBdAKRFtl
Massey dominated the month allowing only two earned runs in 25 innings (0.72 ERA) while tallying 29 strikeouts for Single-A Bradenton. If you stretch his production out over the last two months, J.P. has become one of his team’s best starters with a 2.84 ERA over 44.1 innings with 52 strikeouts.
Working with former MLBbro pitcher, Marvin Freeman, Massey has changed the mechanics in his leg kick while working on five featured pitches… a four seamer, a two seamer, a curveball and a changeup. It’s a mentorship that J.P. is very excited about, he told MLB.com.
“We’re still trying to figure out the ideal repertoire and usage rate each and every outing, but [five pitches] allows me to have something that I can use against hitters,” he said. “ If I see them trying to lean towards one pitch, I can throw something that goes in the other direction. It gives me a lot of versatility while I’m on the mound.”
Couple that with wisdom from current MLBbro players Hunter Greene of the Cincinnati Reds and Triston McKenzie of the Cleveland Guardians and J.P. Massey should use the Futures game as a launching pad.
This MLBbro is considered one of the biggest prospects for the St. Louis Cardinals… period.
At #63 in the 2020 Draft, Tink Hence is the highest selection out of the state of Arkansas since 2005.
Despite getting the “Byron Buxton” treatment in 2021 and being limited to eight appearances in the Florida Complex League and a pitch limit with Single A Palm Beach, Tink emerged as a superstar when he finally got his chance on the mound.
This season, the MLBbro is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA and a 46-to-12 strikeout to walk ratio in 11 starts as of Friday (June 30) for the High-A Peoria Chiefs.
Like Massey, Hence has a cache of pitches to showcase in this event. He has a mid-90s fastball, a vicious curve, a changeup and a slider that gives batters three off-speed pitches to figure out in less than two seconds.
Hopefully the Futures game will allow the Cardinals to give this guy more time on the mound to perfect his craft. Right now, that’s the only thing holding him back. MLB.com believes that this guy can be an ace pitcher in the majors based on their review…
“The stuff needs to hold up into the fifth and the sixth innings — and over 100-plus frames overall — before Hence could be considered a potential ace, but the individual pieces are there.”
Check out these two MLBbros in training in the Futures Game on Saturday, July 8th at 7pm EST.
2021 was a year of redemption and great accomplishments for Dusty Baker as he navigated Houston into the World Series. But his shining moment was when son Darren Baker was drafted in the 10th round of the MLB Draft by Dusty’s former team, the Washington Nationals.
Dusty Baker’s son Darren Baker, a Washington Nationals MiLB infielder who participated in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game this week, talks about his dad’s influence on his life and more in an interview with MLBbro.com’s Malik Wright during 2022 MLB All-Star Week at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, Ca.
Brennen Davis, Xavier Edwards and some of the best young MLBbros in baseball will take the field for The 2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Coors Field in Denver — on the same day that the first round of the MLB Draft will be held in the same city.
Every year, the Futures Game is a showcase of the brightest young stars in baseball, the guys we really expect to carry the league going forward.
Our MLBbro and 2017 World Series MVP George Springer is one of the many notable alumni of this game.
Being selected to the game is truly considered an honor for young ballplayers, and gives our six young MLBbros (one won’t play due to injury) an opportunity to show the world the latest generation of Black ballplayers.
MLBbros Kyle Lewis, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Jo Addell, Touki Toussaint, Hunter Greene and Future Games MVP Taylor Trammell all played in the same Future Games in 2018, so the game definitely features the future stars of MLB.
Andre Jackson* – RHP – Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 27 prospect in Dodgers organization)
Bo Naylor – Cleveland Indians (No.3 prospect in Cleveland organization)
This was the toughest position to find an MLBBro to fill. Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell is the most notable Black first basemen of late, but as I searched through each team’s roster list there were no current first base prospects to be found.
I mentioned the need for defensive versatility before, and it seems like most black prospects are being placed where their athletic ability can be best used; shortstop or the outfield.
But with names like Frank Thomas, Willie McCovey, Eddie Murray, Dick Allen, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard … I mean I could really do this for a while…There are countless Black power hitters who’ve manned first base in the Bigs, so there’s surely another in the pipeline. If I’ve overlooked anyone, let me know in the comments.