The Futures Game Was Yesterday. You Probably Missed It.

Associated Press
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Each July, the top international prospects in all of baseball play an all-star game against the top American prospects in all of baseball. Some of the players involved are so good and so close to big league level that they could very well be key additions to contenders in the second half. Others will form the foundation of your favorite team as early as next season and for many, many seasons to come.

The 2017 Futures Game took place yesterday. The U.S. won, with Tampa Bay Rays prospect Brent Honeywell striking out four in two innings of work and Astros prospects Derek Fisher and Kyle Tucker each hitting RBI doubles. At one point White Sox prospect Michael Kopech struck out fellow White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada on a 100.7-mph fastball. Exciting, both in terms of storyline and in terms of baseball action.

But you probably missed all of that. Just as you probably miss the Futures Game each year because the scheduling of it is aggressively bad. Indeed, it is seemingly calculated to maximize the number of baseball fans — and baseball insiders for that matter — who do not see it.

Yesterday the game began at 4pm, which is the absolute peak time for big league action given that the early games were all still going on and the late games were all getting underway. While MLB.com sent some of its beat writers to Miami a day early in order to get people to cover it, the media contingent for local papers, TV stations and web outlets were back home or on the road covering their big clubs. Many national media members were en route to Miami for the All-Star festivities and not yet at Marlins Park. The park itself was about half empty.

Why Major League Baseball insists on scheduling the Futures Game at the worst possible time is beyond me. They could, if they chose, move the usual Sunday Night Baseball game to the day and give it a prime time showcase. I’m sure the Tigers and Indians players who played until almost midnight the night before their midseason vacation began wouldn’t have minded. Now that the second half does not begin until Friday — it used to be Thursday — they could play the Futures Game on Monday, do the Home Run Derby on Tuesday and the All-Star Game on Wednesday. They could also shift the whole All-Star break to a weekend if they wanted to, altering the schedule a bit more radically. It’s not like there are football or basketball games this time of the year to compete with weekend viewing.

I’ve asked MLB people about this several times in the past. Each time I do, I get some tautological explanation about how it’s scheduled at this time because they believe it’s the best time to schedule it or some such nonsense. Meanwhile, they schedule their D-list heavy Celebrity Softball Game to air via tape delay after the Home Run Derby. That’s not ideal, but at least it doesn’t have to compete with actual baseball. It gets its own showcase and a couple hours of promotion during the Derby.

The Futures Game is a cool event. It may be the best baseball event with the exception of actual Major League competition. Too bad MLB makes a point to ensure that it’s played at the same time as lots and lots of Major League competition.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.