Joey GalloAP Photo/Brian WesterholtTexas prospect Joey Gallo isn't just blessed with plus-plus power; he has a huge arm at third base.

The 16th annual MLB Futures Game will take place Sunday at Target Field in Minneapolis, and yes, I'll be there, my ninth Futures Game. It's an event that brings some of the best prospects from around the minors together on one field for a nine-inning exhibition that is far more interesting than the actual All-Star Game on Tuesday. The first one I attended featured Joey Votto, Alex Gordon, Homer Bailey and Hunter Pence; the 2007 game included a 19-year-old lefty named Clayton Kershaw. Here's a quick guide to some of the 2014 players, focusing on which players grade out the best in the five hitting tools or in some of the major scouting categories for pitchers.

Best hit tool

Josh Bell, OF, Pittsburgh: Bell missed just about all of 2012 because of a bad knee injury and spent much of 2013 shaking off the rust from losing his entire first pro season. This year, however, Bell's promise in high school is showing up on the field, as he's making a ton of contact, much of it hard, with a .380 average since the start of June, and nearly equal triple-slash lines from the left and right sides. Sean Coyle, Corey Seager, D.J. Peterson and Francisco Lindor also have above-average to plus hit tools.

Best power

Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas: There's a ton of power in this year's Futures Game, with Gallo leading the way. He has enormous left-handed pull power, comparable to Giancarlo Stanton's, producing 93 homers already in 254 professional games, 31 this year. The U.S. team alone has at least four players with grade-70 power or more:
Chris SaleAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhFor reasons unclear to many, White Sox ace Chris Sale was left off the All-Star roster.
The MLB All-Star Game rosters always spur controversy for who's out and who's in, but also because there aren't clear rules on what makes an All-Star in the first place. I've never bought the maxim that it should just be the players who are having the best current seasons, because that's the ideal way to leave out a few legitimate stars while including a bunch of guys who had two fluky hot months.

But that philosophy also ignores the original purpose of the game, one that still matters today: This is Major League Baseball's one night to get all of its best players on one field in front of a worldwide audience. The focus should be on getting as many of the game's current and emerging stars into the game, and if that means a one-hit wonder gets left off the roster, so be it.

With that in mind, here are my main guidelines when critiquing the All-Star rosters: No player should go to the game for a first half that might easily be a fluke, but the sport does have a vested interest in getting a few rising stars into the game so they can play before a national audience. Of course, you don't need those guidelines to realize there's an enormous mistake on the AL roster. …

American League

Scott Kazmir or Mark Buehrle over Chris Sale: These two player selections are the dumbest of anything this year, and there's a fair amount of ridiculousness going on for both rosters, so the bar is high. Sale would be second in the league in ERA if he qualified, just .05 behind leader Felix Hernandez. He's sixth in the league in WAR and tenth in rWAR, despite having 20 fewer innings pitched than any of the pitchers ahead of him. He's 8-1 if you actually care about something as useless as a pitcher's won-lost record. And Sale was a top five pitcher in the league last year, too.

Did the players just look at the ERA rankings and forget Sale because he doesn't have enough innings to qualify (he's one inning short) for the chart?

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Brandon McCarthyNorm Hall/Getty ImagesThe Yankees upgraded their rotation with the acquisition of Brandon McCarthy.
The New York Yankees' acquisition of Brandon McCarthy upgrades a beleaguered rotation that's not getting any help from the farm system, while the Arizona Diamondbacks don't capitalize on one of their most valuable trade assets and get nothing in return but some financial savings.

McCarthy turned out to be a poor fit for Arizona's hitter-friendly ballpark and almost as hitter-friendly defense, but he fared well in the three things a pitcher can do to help himself most: miss bats, avoid walks and keep the ball on the ground. While some things out of McCarthy's control have gone against him, he's also had trouble keeping his sinker -- his best pitch -- from drifting up in the zone. He has given up 15 homers -- that's one out of every five fly balls he's allowed -- and all but two came on sinkers or cutters, pitches designed to generate ground balls or at least weaker contact. All 13 homers off sinkers or cutters were pitches left at or above the midpoint of the strike zone.

Although Yankee Stadium isn't a pitcher's paradise, McCarthy has never been this homer-prone before, and there almost has to be some element of misfortune in there, even if there has been a true drop in his ability to avoid home runs. That's a long way of saying I think McCarthy will be better for the Yanks than he was in Arizona and will likely post an ERA around 4, rather than 5.

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Addison RussellMichael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty ImagesThe Cubs have added one of the top prospects in baseball in Addison Russell.
The A's have added a huge injection of both quality and depth into their rotation, but it does come at a cost -- their last two first-round picks, both excellent prospects right now, who will boost a Cubs system that was already among the top five in baseball. In a significant deal, both sides add impact, with different timelines in mind.

Jeff Samardzija has gone from DFA candidate after 2011 to mid-rotation starter in 2012. Now, he's throwing

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SALISBURY, Md. -- Baltimore Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey threw for the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds on Monday night, and it was another outstanding effort from the 19-year-old who learned on Tuesday that he'll represent the Orioles in this year's MLB Futures Game. This was my second time seeing Harvey this year, and he had a better fastball Monday than he did when I saw him in April on a 46-degree day, and had better results, too.

Harvey started the game working from 93 and 96 mph with 70-grade life on his fastball, getting tremendous bore on the pitch; he broke at least three right-handed hitters' bats over the course of the outing. He located the fastball well to both corners and in the lower third of the zone, especially working inside to righties. By the fifth and sixth innings, he was down to 90-94, but he still had the same command and life to the pitch. His curveball, which was plus when I've seen him in the past, was just average Monday night, although he did punch out four hitters with it (with three others striking out on fastballs). The breaking ball was 77-80 mph with good rotation but less depth than before, and he left a few of 'em up over the course of the game, including one that led to a single, plating West Virginia's only run of the game. Harvey threw only one changeup, a good one at 84 mph. He'll have to use that pitch more often, though Sally League hitters aren't going to make him do that.

Harvey is ready to move up, at least to high-A but possibly all the way to Double-A, because he has the fastball velocity, life and command to eviscerate low-A hitters without needing to work on developing his changeup or tightening his curveball.

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Kris BryantAP Photo/Tony FarlowCubs prospect Kris Bryant has 26 homers in 73 games this year and will be at the Futures Game.
The Futures Game, which takes place at Target Field in Minneapolis on Sunday, July 13, will offer a tremendous look at the best young talent in the minor leagues, featuring 13 of the players from my May update of the top 25 prospects in the minors . The rosters, which were announced today, include the No. 1 eligible prospect from at least 10 different systems, with several others who will be contenders for that title by year-end. I always think the game is a must-watch -- and I'll be there in Minneapolis on July 13 -- but this year looks exceptionally fun.

(The complete roster for the U.S. team can be found here, while the World team roster is here.

Among those top prospects are six middle infielders, one of them hurt, all of whom look like they'll be stars at the major league level.

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Josh ByrnesChristopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsAfter a number of missteps in player development and contract management, Josh Byrnes is out.
The San Diego Padres' decision to relieve Josh Byrnes of his duties as general manager is unsurprising, and was probably overdue, given the team's poor performance at the major league level and lack of production from young players, especially those acquired in trades or handed long-term contracts. The move, by itself, solves no problem, however. The Padres need to hire the right successor, a GM who has experience in scouting and player development, because there is no way a team with the Padres' low payroll can succeed without a productive farm system and coming out even or ahead in trades.

Byrnes struck out in the trade market more than once, and he has been stung by long-term deals -- some of them appearing to be smart at the time -- to players who subsequently got hurt or just weren't good afterward. The trades can be more galling to ownership or fans, because a player you used to have is now producing for another club -- often a rival.

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Bundy close to pre-surgery form 

June, 22, 2014
Jun 22
Dylan BundyGreg Fiume/Getty ImagesPrior to his injury, Dylan Bundy was one of the top pitching prospects in MLB.
Dylan Bundy -- the No. 31 prospect on my Top 100 in January -- is still not quite a full 12 months off Tommy John surgery (he had the operation on June 27, 2013), but made his second rehab start on Saturday night at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland, throwing five quick innings and showing he's close to pre-surgery form, but not all the way there yet.

Bundy faced 17 batters over five innings, striking out nine and walking just one while allowing two hits, both well-struck but going to the opposite field. He was pitching 90 to 94 mph all night, with some downhill plane and a little tailing life to it even at 93, although I noticed he rushed his arm on many of the fastballs at the higher end of the range. He also threw at least one true cutter at 91 mph, the first pitch of the third inning, and I think he cut a few others over the course of his outing, just not as prominently.

Roughly 80 percent of Bundy's 64 pitches (48 strikes) on the evening were fastballs, but he did mix in a few straight changeups at 86-87 and at least seven curveballs, three of which punched out hitters. The curveball was at 73-75 mph, nearly 12/6 with good depth, and he threw it for strikes aside from one he shanked at 76 right into the dirt. He threw just one off-speed pitch in the first inning, but increased the mix as the game went on because he seemed to need that extra effort to dial up the fastball, and in the process lost some command of the pitch.

Bundy is back pitching in games earlier than most pitchers who've had ligament transplant surgery, which is the result of a quick rehab with no real setbacks; this is also the most likely explanation for the slightly reduced velocity and command he showed on Friday. His delivery was pretty similar to how it was before the injury, perhaps a slightly more pronounced downward stab in the back but nothing significant. I don't think he's close to ready in terms of helping the major league team as a starter. But, I could see him in the Baltimore Orioles' pen in September or going to the Arizona Fall League to help him build up some more innings and stamina before shutting it down for the winter.

• The Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets affiliate) started one of their better prospects, right-hander Marcos Molina, who boasts above-average stuff with a below-average delivery.

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Projecting Yasmani Tomas 

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
Yasmani ThomasAP Photo/Koji SasaharaHow does Yasmani Thomas compare to other Cuban sluggers?
Earlier Friday we learned that Yasmani Tomas, a young star in Cuba, had defected. I've already received many questions asking what I think of his potential, which is no surprise given the early impact provided by a pair of recent Cuban imports. Tomas might get paid like Jose Abreu or Yasiel Puig, but

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Manuel BanuelosKim Klement/USA TODAY SportsPitcher Manuel Banuelos, who underwent Tommy John surgery, has lost velocity on his fastball.
Yankees left-hander Manny Banuelos missed nearly all of 2012 and 2013 because of Tommy John surgery and subsequent rehab setbacks. But he has pitched all year in short stints of mostly three innings and fewer than 60 pitches per outing. His stuff during Wednesday night's game in Trenton wasn't where it was prior to the initial surgery, and I couldn't tell you if or when it will come all the way back.

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Jorge AlfaroMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsRangers prospect Jorge Alfaro was the best player in the California-Carolina leagues All-Star game.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks played host to this year's California-Carolina League All-Star Game on Tuesday. The game, which the visiting California League squad won 4-2, featured players from 18 different organizations.

Here are my notes on a handful of players who stood out or on whom I’ve received questions over the past 24 hours:

" Texas Rangers prospect Jorge Alfaro put on the day’s most impressive display. The Class A catcher tripled, ran well and threw out a runner at second. Even though the triple was aided by a misplay by outfielder Hunter Renfroe, Alfaro demonstrated noticeable hand and wrist strength driving a lefty’s changeup to the opposite field. He also nailed Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect Kyle Waldrop with a laser throw to second base.

" Waldrop hit the game’s only home run and was selected as game MVP. He’s got some legitimate pull power but probably needs a trip to Double-A so the organization can see how much of his improvement this year is the result of repeating Class A. I still think Jesse Winker -- his teammate with the Bakersfield Blaze and in the All-Star Game -- is a better prospect.

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Ike DavisJustin Berl/Icon SMIIke Davis' trade to the Pirates was completed on Sunday, with the Mets acquiring Blake Taylor.
On Sunday, the Mets and Pirates put a face on the “player-to-be-named” component of the trade from earlier this season that sent Ike Davis to Pittsburgh, with New York acquiring lefty Blake Taylor, the Pirates' second-round pick from last year's Rule 4 draft.

Taylor, who won't turn 19 until August, hasn't pitched this year because of a lat strain that kept him in extended spring training. When healthy, he has a fastball that's mostly 89-91 mph with some life, but he was clocked as high as 94-95 in high school. His main feature is a sharp-breaking curveball that should allow him to miss left- and right-handed bats as he fills out and adds a little velocity to the pitch.

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RodonAP Photo/Mark CrammerHard-throwing lefty Carlos Rodon leaps to the top of the White Sox's system.
Law's 2014 draft archive: Winners and questions Insider | AL analysis Insider | NL analysis Insider

The 2014 Rule 4 Draft is over, which means every club just got an influx of top talent into its farm system. Assuming all these top picks sign, here are five teams who just acquired a new No. 1 prospect as well as notes on two other teams' first overall picks and where they might slot into the prospect rankings of each organization.

Chicago White Sox: Carlos Rodon, LHP

The White Sox's top two prospects coming into 2014, Erik Johnson and Matt Davidson, have disappointed thus far.

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The obvious solution to the Texas Rangers' latest injury crisis, losing Prince Fielder for the season, would be for the Rangers to call Scott Boras and try to sign Kendrys Morales to a one-year deal through the end of 2014.

Unlike Stephen Drew, who just re-signed with Boston last week, Morales has virtually no market, as he's really a DH who can fake first base and there aren't any other AL teams with the need and the desire to spend beyond the Rangers. Boston gave Drew a salary that roughly equaled what he would have made on the qualifying offer, but prorated for the remainder of the season.

There's no reason whatsoever for Texas to be so generous with Morales, as the Rangers could offer $2-3 million -- even if they wait until after the draft begins, so they don't have to give a compensatory draft pick to their division rival (Seattle) -- and tell Morales to take it or just take the year off. It's hardball, but when you have all of the leverage, you have to use it.

But the other solution might be the smarter one for Texas to take in the long run, even if the fans don't want to hear it right now: Don't replace Fielder at all.

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The mishandling of Bryce Harper 

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
The Washington Nationals went a little off the board this winter with the hiring of manager Matt Williams, a respected coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks and former All-Star who had a grand total of zero games of professional managerial experience.

That inexperience has shown all over the place, as Williams has demonstrated that he's in way over his head so far -- never more so than in his mishandling of the team's most talented player, Bryce Harper, who is now headed for surgery on his thumb and will be lost until at least early July.

Leaders do not make their points at the expense of their best subordinates, but that is exactly what Williams did when he chose to pull Harper from a game on April 19 because Harper didn't fully run out a routine ground ball back to the pitcher. Harper was coming off an injured quad and, from what I'm told, battling the flu on the day when he chose, wisely, not to run out a ground ball so routine that had the pitcher rolled the ball to first base he still would have beaten Harper by a few feet. Asking any player to run that ball out shows an emphasis on superficial, meaningless behavior over actions that actually increase the team's chances of winning a game. No one ever scored an extra run by showboating for the cameras, but that is exactly what Williams wanted Harper -- who was injured and sick -- to do.

Harper singled out

Williams' tirade on "lack of hustle," directed at a player who is hustle incarnate, was a low point for the Nationals this season, but Harper's injury, which came as he tried to stretch a double into a triple by -- wait for it -- hustling, is a new nadir.

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