Futures Game: A look at the World Team

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We’ve already checked out the U.S. Team that will take the field this evening in Anaheim.  Now let’s get better acquainted with the squad representing the rest of the world:

World Team

2B Brett Lawrie, Brewers
SS Osvaldo Martinez, Marlins
1B Yonder Alonso, Reds
3B Alex Liddi, Mariners
LF Carlos Peguero, Mariners
RF Wilkin Ramirez, Tigers
C Wilin Rosario, Rockies
CF Gorkys Hernandez, Pirates
DH Francisco Peguero
, Giants

Starting Pitcher

Simon Castro, Padres

Notes

Brett Lawrie was selected 16th overall in the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft and has already climbed his way to Double-A Huntsville.  The Canadian-born second baseman is batting .295/.359/.473 this season with six home runs, 11 triples and 24 stolen bases.  He should be a fixture atop the Brewers’ big league lineup very soon.

The Reds have enjoyed a breakout 2010 season and will head into the All-Star break at the top of the National League Central standings.  They’re also hoping that Yonder Alonso, a first-round pick in 2008, will begin to break out soon.  The Cuban first baseman has hit just .266/.333/.404 with nine home runs in 334 at-bats this season between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville.  Hopefully the Futures Game will be a launching pad for the revival of his still-young career.

Alex Liddi is the first Italian-born player to play professional baseball in the United States.  He’s batting just .265 with a .338 on-base percentage this season at Double-A West Tennessee, but the Mariners feel has a fairly bright future.  He doesn’t turn 22 until mid-August and he launched 23 home runs in 129 games at the Single-A level last year.

The Tigers signed Wilkin Ramirez at age 17 as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic and he is one of the few players on either Futures Game roster with a taste of the big leagues.  He went 4-for-11 with a home run and three RBI in a short stay in Detroit last season.  This year he has taken a step back, currently rocking a .219/.264/.368 batting line for Triple-A Toledo, but the 24-year-old still has time on his side.

Simon Castro will take the hill first for the World Team.  A top pitching prospect in the Padres’ system, he has thrown up a 2.74 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and a 76/27 K/BB ratio in 85.1 innings this season at Double-A San Antonio.  The 22-year-old fanned 157 batters in 140.1 innings in 2009 for Single-A Fort Wayne.  To say the least, he has a bright future.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.