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.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.