Futures Game: Getting to know the U.S. squad

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John Manuel of Baseball America has dug up the starting lineups for the 2010 Futures Game.  Given that it’s one of the All-Star break’s first events — broadcast on Sunday night at 6 PM EST — we may as well take a look and get better acquainted with some of the exhibition’s more notable stars.  First, the American-born prospects:

U.S. Team

LF Desmond Jennings, Rays
SS Dee Gordon, Dodgers
3B Mike Moustakas, Royals
RF Domonic Brown, Phillies
DH Eric Hosmer, Royals
C Hank Conger, Angels
CF Brett Jackson, Cubs
1B Logan Morrison, Marlins
2B Drew Cumberland, Padres

Starting Pitcher

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

Notes

Any lineup that has Logan Morrison batting eighth is going to be rather dangerous.  The Marlins first base prospect has posted a 918 OPS between Single-A Jupiter and Triple-A New Orleans this season with five total home runs and 35 RBI in 219 at-bats.  He has what prospect-conscious folks like to call a “major league-ready bat.”

Leading off is Desmond Jennings, who could pop up on the Rays’ big league roster at any moment and fit right in.  He’s batted .297 with 22 extra-base hits in 229 at-bats this season at Triple-A Durham and he has swiped 21 bases in 23 attempts.  The 23-year-old is lightning quick and should get a taste of major league action before 2010 is through.

The Royals have two representatives in this starting lineup, which is great for the future of that club.  Mike Moustakas was a first-round pick back in 2007 and has roared back on to the national baseball scene this year after a few disappointing seasons in the minors.  Through 64 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, he is batting .355/.417/.705 with 21 home runs and 76 RBI.  His power potential is through the roof.

Eric Hosmer is also representing the Royals.  A first base prospect, he is hitting .349/.424/.540 with seven home runs, 50 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 84 games for Single-A Wilmington.  He will almost certainly make his way to the Double-A level by the end of this season.  The Royals, for all their faults, have a talented corner infield in the making.

Taking the mound first for the American-born team will be Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.  The impressive 23-year-old has posted a 2.21 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 104 strikeouts in 105.2 innings this season for the Triple-A Durham Bulls.  He could take over Wade Davis’ spot in the Tampa Bay starting rotation at any moment in the 2010 season’s second half.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.