Castellanos, Myers star as U.S. Team romps
Big-time offensive effort trumps World's arms in SiriusXM Futures Game
KANSAS CITY -- Heeding their manager's call for a merciless attack, the U.S. Team broke out the big sticks on Sunday. The U.S., helmed by Royals legend George Brett, dropped a relentless offensive assault on a string of World Team pitchers on the way to a 17-5 rout in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium.
"I wanted us to step on their throats," said Brett, who spent his entire Hall of Fame playing career in Kansas City, "and we did."
The home team had four innings in which it scored more than one run, tallying 17 of the game's last 18 runs. The U.S. Team's nine-run sixth inning equaled the most runs scored by either team in any full game in the history of the Futures Game.
A team supposedly defined by a dominant pitching staff instead won by bashing the ball all over the park. It lived up to its manager's insistence on a ferocious competitive approach, a desire to "embarrass" the opponent, as Brett said.
"It was not, 'Are you going to win,'" said U.S. shortstop Billy Hamilton. "It was, 'You'd better win.' He pumped everybody up."
Futures Game Most Valuable Player Nick Castellanos' massive three-run homer to center field capped the nine-run sixth inning that put the game out of reach. Jonathan Singleton had three hits, and 13 U.S. players had at least one run or RBI (or both).
"I remember saying to myself, 'That's huge. That's awesome,'" Castellanos said. "It was a great at-bat. The pitcher pitched me really well. I worked a 3-2 count and he left I think a two-seamer that got in. And I was able to get the good part of the bat to it, and it got enough to get out. That at-bat's definitely up there with the greatest at-bats I've had in pro ball."
Hometown hero Wil Myers, the Royals' top offensive prospect, had two hits and three RBIs. Myers, who could well make it to Kansas City in the second half of this season, received the loudest cheers of any prospect.
"It was definitely cool to be out there in front of the home crowd," Myers said. "I saw the ball well. The hitters' eye is great here. The ball looks huge coming in. I was able to get some good pitches over the plate and I was lucky to take advantage of them."
The U.S. squad rapped 17 hits, seven of them for extra bases. After a few early hiccups, meanwhile, six of the final seven U.S. pitchers to take the mound did not allow a run. The pitching staff, featuring top prospects such as Dylan Bundy, Jameson Taillon, Taijuan Walker and Gerrit Cole, was believed to be the strength of the U.S. Team before the game.
Instead, the World Team jumped ahead on some of those vaunted hurlers, 4-0 -- and had a chance to add even more. But Anthony Gose's outstanding third-inning catch turned out to be a pivotal play, short-circuiting a potential big inning and keeping the U.S. close enough to come back.
Gose's snare of Oscar Taveras' liner to right-center prevented the third inning from getting out of hand against Danny Hultzen. The Americans tied it up in the bottom of the third, took the lead in the fourth and steamed to their eighth win in 14 editions of the Futures Game.
"The catch obviously changed the game, because we came right back and scored the four runs," Myers said. "That was big."
The visitors played long ball early against right-handers Jake Odorizzi and Cole. Jurickson Profar yanked a solo homer inside the right-field foul pole for a 1-0 first-inning lead. In the second, Jae-Hoon Ha hit a fly ball to right that just kept carrying, and it snuck over the wall for a two-run homer.
"I felt really excited," Ha said. "I didn't think I hit a home run; I thought it was going to hit the wall. But I hit it hard."
Ha, known more for his glove than his bat, had two hits on the afternoon. Profar and Jean Segura were also each 2-for-3 for the World team. Profar is considered at least arguably the best position-player prospect in baseball, and he did not disappoint.
"It was fun," Profar said. "That's what I expected, come here and have fun. I hit a home run ... it was great."
Taveras, rated perhaps the best pure hitting prospect in the Minors, hit the ball hard all day but hit into bad luck, finishing with a single and an RBI. He also put on quite a show in pregame batting practice, hitting several home runs.
"I was really happy, because I'd never played in a stadium like this," Taveras said. "Just to be here with the guys, my people. We played hard, we gave it all we had, 100 percent."
The lead expanded to four runs on Taveras' sacrifice fly, but the World team missed an opportunity for more. With two men on, Gose made a superb diving catch on Taveras' ball, preventing extra bases and keeping at least one additional run from scoring. Given that Xander Bogaerts singled two batters later, it's likely that at least two extra runs would have scored if Gose had not caught the ball.
Instead, the U.S. surged back immediately. Hamilton tripled in two runs to get the U.S. on the board, then scored when Kolten Wong reached on a three-base error. Myers' groundout tied the game. Three walks, a Tommy Joseph double and an error made it 6-4 in favor of the U.S. in the fourth.
And then in the sixth, the U.S. Team put it completely out of reach. The first five batters to face Ariel Pena reached base, followed by a Myers sacrifice fly and three more base hits. That chased Pena, and Castellanos worked a full count against Julio Rodriguez before drilling a high fastball 406 feet to center to remove any doubt about the outcome.
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT)/6:30 p.m. (CDT). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
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Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.