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


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.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.