U.S. crushes World team in Futures Game

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When the Futures Game rosters were announced last month, the difference in the pitching staffs appeared dramatic; the U.S. was littered with big-time arms featuring first-round pedigree. The World team just didn’t match up.

So, it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that the U.S. beat up on the World’s second-tier pitchers Sunday in running away with a 17-5 victory.

The World squad was able to take an early lead. Shortstop phenom Jurickson Profar (Tex) homered off Jake Odorizzi (KC) in the first, and Jae-Hoon Ha (ChC) hit a two-run blast off Gerrit Cole (Pit) in the second. Ha’s shot was a big surprise, as the defensive-minded center fielder came in with just three homers on the season. A sac fly from Oscar Taveras (StL) made it 4-0 in the top of the third.

From there, it was all U.S.A. Billy Hamilton (Cin), the fastest player in the minors, showed his wheels with a two-run triple hit over the head of Ha in center. Here’s the video. Ha misjudged the ball initially, and Hamilton seemed to think it’d be caught off the bat. If he had gone full bore from the start, he might have turned into an inside-the-park job with his speed.

The U.S. squad kept racking up singles and doubles from there before Nick Castellanos (Det) homered in the sixth to make it 15-5.

Ariel Pena (LAA) took the worst of it for the World team, giving up eight runs in one-third of an inning. Julio Rodriguez (Phi) gave up Castellanos’ homer and allowed three runs — two earned — in his innings. Chris Reed (LAD) gave up four runs — two earned — in an inning. The most impressive World team pitcher was starter Yordano Ventura (KC). He hit 100 mph a couple of times on the fast Kansas City gun and retired all three batters he faced.

The U.S pitchers weren’t exactly dominant. All seven guys to work a full inning gave up at least one hit. After Odorizzi and Cole allowed their homers, Danny Hultzen (Sea) surrendered another run in the third. Dylan Bundy (Bal), the one guy everyone wanted to see, gave up three hits in the fourth, but escaped with a scoreless inning. Taijuan Walker (Sea) looked the best of the bunch today. He allowed one hit while working a scoreless seventh. Matt Barnes (Bos) finished the game. After entering with one down and none on in the ninth, he threw two pitches and got two outs.

The offensive star was Castellanos. The third-base prospect had two singles and a walk to go along with his home run. Chris Singleton (Hou) also had three hits. Hometown hero Wil Myers (KC) played the entire game and went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Many of the Royals fans in attendance would probably like to see him step in for Jeff Francoeur after the break.

For the World team. Profar went 2-for-3 with the homer before stepping aside for Francisco Lindor (Cle). Since the World team was overloaded with shortstops, Jean Segura (LAA) played second base, his old position, and went 2-for-3. Ha ended up 2-for-2 before being replaced.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.