On Sunday, Major League Baseball will commence with its 2019 All-Star Game festivities. This year, the Midsummer Classic and accompanying events are being held at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The first meaningful bit of the weekend is the Futures Game, an exhibition game featuring the top prospects in baseball.
Here’s how you can watch this year’s edition:
2019 Futures Game
Where: Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio
When: 7 p.m. ET on Sunday
T.V.: MLB Network
And now here are five things to know heading into the event.
1. New format
The biggest difference between this Futures Game and those before it will be the format. In the past, teams were assembled based on a United States versus the World premise. MLB has ditched that approach in favor of a traditional route: American League versus National League.
Will there be any discernible difference? Not really. You just won’t see any teammates squaring off because one was born in the Dominican Republic and the other in Texas. That’s it.
2. Managed by icons
A cool thing for the home crowd about the Futures Game is each side is managed by a franchise legend. Because the game is in Cleveland, this year’s honorary skippers are Jim Thome and Dennis Martinez. For those unfamiliar with their ties to the franchise, let’s recap.
Thome spent parts of 13 seasons with Cleveland, swatting 337 of his career 612 home runs. He was an illustrious hitter throughout, but from 1996-2002 he averaged 40 home runs, 108 runs batted in, and a .290/.424/.591 (159 OPS+) slash line as part of some of the best lineups in modern memory. That’ll play, Jim, that’ll play.
Martinez started 72 games for Cleveland over three years. He posted a 132 ERA+, but in retrospect it’s funny to note he struck out just a batter every other inning. Anyway, Martinez’s claim to Cleveland fame is what he did in October 1995: tossing seven shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners in what proved to be the AL Championship Series clincher.
3. Franco, Gore to star
A cool thing for everyone, including the home crowd, with regards to the Futures Game is they do try to get all the top prospects involved.
This year, five of MLB.com’s top 10 will be there, including arguably the best hitting and pitching prospects in the game: Rays shortstop Wander Franco and Padres left-hander MacKenzie Gore. Other top-10 prospects include Angels outfielder Jo Adell, White Sox outfielder Luis Robert, and Twins shortstop Royce Lewis.
4. Six repeaters
There are six players making their second consecutive Futures Game appearance. Those six are, in alphabetical order: Adell, Cubs catcher Miguel Amaya, Nationals shortstop Carter Kieboom, Tigers right-hander Matt Manning, Giants outfielder Heliot Ramos, and Reds outfielder Taylor Trammell.
Being part of this group is a mixed bag. Certainly it tends to mean you’re a good prospect — as is the case here — but it can also mean you haven’t established yourself in the majors yet for some reason (think Kieboom, who struggled mightily in his big-league cameo).
5. Well-represented organizations
While every organization gets at least one player in the Futures Game, five organizations originally had three apiece: the Rays, Padres, Marlins, Tigers, and Mariners.
We say “originally” because the Rays have since promoted two-way player Brendan McKay, meaning he won’t be attending the Futures Game. Still, the Rays will be represented by the aforementioned Franco and catcher Ronaldo Hernandez.
Elsewhere, the Padres will be repped by Gore, Patino, and right-hander Adrian Morejon; the Marlins will have second baseman Isan Diaz, outfielder Monte Harrison, and righty Sixto Sanchez; the Tigers will send Manning, infielder Isaac Paredes, and backstop Jake Rogers; and the Mariners will showcase Kelenic, right-hander Justin Dunn, and first baseman Evan White.
You can check out the full rosters over at MLB.com. And remember, the Futures Game will take place on Sunday evening, beginning at 7 p.m. ET and can be found on MLB Network.