NEW YORK -- All of the players who will be at Citi Field for Sunday's SiriusXM Futures All-Star Game have a very good chance to become big leaguers. The numbers say that a healthy percentage will even become All-Stars down the road.
So it goes without saying that every member of the rosters is worth coming to see or watching on TV. But some generate more buzz than others. That is true among fans and within the baseball industry. MLB.com surveyed scouts, general managers and player development executives to find out which players they were most looking forward to seeing in the 15th edition of the Futures Game.
Each front-office member who was polled was asked to pick the most exciting hitter and pitcher. It was a split camp on the mound, but there was no doubt whom everyone could not wait to see take his swings. Of 29 people polled, 19 picked outfielder Byron Buxton, ranked by MLB.com as the Twins' No. 2 prospect, as the player they most wanted to see.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him take batting practice and run down balls in center field," one scout said. "He's a 'scout's dream' type of prospect. It's always good to see the tools and game production come together."
The only other hitter to receive multiple votes was Buxton's organization-mate Miguel Sano. The slugging third baseman got six votes, while Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell, Brandon Nimmo and Joc Pederson each received one. So did Joey Gallo of the Rangers, but he will not attend the Futures Game because he is on the disabled list. One executive voted for both Twins prospects.
"Buxton has so many tools, and Sano has such special power," he said. "Both are so intriguing, and I can't wait to see them on a national platform playing top competition."
The pitching poll was a different story. Nine pitchers were mentioned by those polled, with right-hander Taijuan Walker, rated by MLB.com as the Mariners' top prospect, narrowly winning with seven votes. D-backs righty Archie Bradley was right behind him with six. Yordano Ventura of the Royals and Michael Ynoa of the A's received four votes each. The Yankees' Rafael De Paula had three, and Rockies right-hander Eddie Butler two. Jimmy Nelson (Brewers), A.J. Cole (Nationals) and Eduardo Rodriguez (Orioles) garnered one vote each.
A couple of scouts had not seen Walker in person, or at least not since his amateur days, and wanted to see how far he had come. The same was said about Ynoa, the big international signee who is starting to take off now that he is finally healthy.
"He's a much-hyped international sign whose health has really derailed him so far," one scouting executive said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of progress he's made now that he's finally healthy and in a full-season league."
All the Futures Gamers can be watched at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday at Citi Field live on on MLB.com, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game. Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send/receive tweets to/from the U.S. and World Team dugouts during the game by tagging tweets with the hashtags #USDugout and #WorldDugout.
Buxton, Sano form dynamic duo for Twins
Seeing Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano generate the most excitement in a recent poll by MLB.com should excite Twins fans, especially because both earned in-season promotions in 2013 and are headed somewhat speedily toward Target Field. The Twins' system is flush with talent, well beyond these two young hitters, but it is hard not to stand in awe of what Buxton and Sano might accomplish.
Sano and Buxton are a level apart, with Buxton recently getting promoted to Fort Myers, the club Sano left behind for Double-A not that long ago. But they have been teammates before, albeit briefly. Sano and Buxton were in the same lineup for a week at instructs last fall. The results should come as no surprise to anyone.
"I think we went 6-1 that week," Buxton said with a smile. "The next week, we were split up. I think we went 3-3 then."
It is hard to think of a time in recent memory when one organization had two such highly-regarded prospects at the same time. The D-backs did have top-10 prospects in Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer a year ago. Oscar Taveras and Shelby Miller created a nice 1-2 punch for a time as well, but with all due respect to those pairings, none comes close to the Buxton-Sano combo in terms of upside potential.
And if fans, let alone the Twins' front office, are excited about seeing that play in the Twin Cities, Buxton is right there with them.
"It'll be pretty cool," Buxton said. "He's a great player to watch. It should be really interesting."
And could it lead to more stretches like that 6-1 week at instructs?
"I would have to say so," Buxton said with a smile.
Mets-to-be set to square off at future home
They hope to be rotation-mates at Citi Field in the future. But Sunday, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, ranked by MLB.com as the Mets' No. 3 and No. 8 prospects, will be dueling partners. Syndergaard will throw the first pitch of the Futures Game for the United States team; Montero will follow him in the bottom of the first as the starter for the World Team.
It is not the first time an all-host starting pitching tandem has occurred in the Futures Game. Last year. in Kansas City, Jake Odorizzi started for the U.S. and Yordano Ventura took the ball for the World. Both were Royals prospects, though Odorizzi is now with the Tampa Bay Rays.
In previous years, there has been one starter from the host team's organization, but only 2012 and 2013 have managed the double feature. Tyler Skaggs started in Arizona in 2011, Justin Verlander got that honor in Detroit in 2005 and Neal Cotts started in Chicago in 2003.