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Insider

Hitters steal show at Futures Games

7/9/2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Fantasy owners looking for offense either this year or in the future certainly were able to see plenty of it in Sunday's Futures Game, as the USA team exploded for a record 17 runs on 17 hits. A number of fantasy relevant prospects contributed to the highest-scoring game in Futures history at steamy Kauffman Stadium, so let's discuss some of the hitting prospects that put on quite the show Sunday!

Kansas City Royals outfielder Wil Myers knocked in three runs for the hometown crowd, which has to be wondering (again) why he's not already in the big leagues. Myers has 27 home runs across two levels of the minor leagues. Current Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur ... does not. Francoeur boasts a lowly .667 OPS and seven home runs for a fourth-place team that would like to deal him. Look for Myers to get the call to the Royals soon, whether Francoeur is traded or not. While there are never guarantees with young hitters (or pitchers, for that matter) it's likely Myers will at least hit for power immediately.

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Billy Hamilton did not get the chance to wow the crowd with yet another stolen base, but he did turn a fly ball into a fourth-inning triple, reaching third base with ridiculous ease. This fellow has stolen 104 bases in a mere 82 games so far and is scheduled to make his Double-A Pensacola debut this week. Hamilton could lead the majors in stolen bases immediately, but there's little indication that kind of promotion is pending in 2012. By the way, Reds leadoff hitters this season (mostly shortstop Zack Cozart) entered Sunday hitting .201 with a .246 on-base percentage. I spoke to Hamilton prior to the game and he says he's ready for the majors, and it's tough to argue with him. He's getting on base and has cut down on the strikeouts, and the speed is readily apparent.

Texas Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar got the offensive onslaught started with a first-inning home run while batting left-handed, and in his next at-bat against Seattle Mariners lefty Danny Hultzen, he turned around to the right side to line a single to right field. Profar is a mere 19 years old, but he's played 80 games at Double-A Frisco and hasn't seem a bit overwhelmed. He's hit nine home runs and stolen nine bases and walked 40 times versus 51 strikeouts. There's nothing wrong with current Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, but Profar is the future at that spot.

Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos took MVP honors, launching a majestic center-field home run with two men on base and also hitting a pair of singles. He scored three runs. Castellanos is the future at third base for the Tigers, but like Profar, that's not happening this season. Castellanos is 20, and Miguel Cabrera doesn't have to worry about job security at third base (though his defense needs major work). Castellanos doesn't need to be added in redraft fantasy leagues in 2012, but don't wait too long in dynasty formats.

Houston Astros first baseman Jonathan Singleton singled three times, took a walk, scored twice and was thrown out trying to steal second base for good measure. I also spoke to Singleton earlier Sunday and he mentioned the strides he has taken driving the ball to the gaps this season, all while maintaining his excellent plate discipline as well. Singleton downplayed the fact the Astros recently traded first baseman Carlos Lee to the Miami Marlins and how that could open up playing time for him next season, but that's a legitimate possibility. Singleton is only 20 and might be back in the Futures Game in 2013, but the former Philadelphia Phillies prospect clearly has a bright future.

Other hitting notes: Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Anthony Gose made a highlight reel diving catch on an Oscar Taveras line drive. At the plate Gose, singled and walked. I asked Gose about Hamilton's ridiculous stolen base prowess and he laughed, calling it "unbelievable." Gose has swiped 29 bases at Triple-A Las Vegas, and if the Blue Jays fall out of the AL race, he could be a fantasy factor this year. Gose stole 69 bases in Double-A in 2011. ... I also asked Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado about the lure of soon hitting in Coors Field. He smiled but said, "Right now, I'm just worried about Tulsa." Arenado has not hit for much power in Double-A Tulsa (.405 slugging percentage), and fantasy owners hoping for a 2012 promotion likely will be disappointed. He's 21. But we should see him next year.

Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, a superior overall prospect than Hamilton but not a starter Sunday, doubled in two runs. He turned 20 last week, so don't look for a big league promotion anytime soon, but Machado is someone to add now in dynasty formats. ... Chicago Cubs outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha hasn't hit for much power at Double-A Tennessee this season, but he drove a Gerrit Cole pitch way over the right-center field wall in the second inning Sunday. Ha also singled. Cubs fans aren't likely to see the 21-year-old until 2014. ... Rangers third baseman Mike Olt has 22 home runs at Double-A Frisco, and he drove a long double to center field in five at-bats. Olt is someone to watch in fantasy this season; he's 23 and could be summoned to play first base. Or he could be traded since he's blocked at third base by Adrian Beltre.