Futures Game to bridge past, present for Mets
Hurlers Harvey, Wheeler relay words of wisdom to trio of New York prospects
NEW YORK -- As a Futures Game alumnus, Matt Harvey has a bit of advice for Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Brandon Nimmo, the three Mets prospects in this year's game.
"Any time you have the All-Star Game in your hometown, it's a special time and a special moment," Harvey said. "To have the Futures Game here, and to hopefully in the near future suit up with the big club and play here, that's a great moment for you. It's something you should really take in and really enjoy, because hopefully it won't be too long before you're up here pitching with us."
Aside from the bit about playing at home, that advice could apply to any of the 52 prospects participating in this year's exhibition. The Futures Game, which will take place Sunday, July 14, at Citi Field, is a rare chance for the game's top prospects to experience an All-Star atmosphere at the game's highest level.
"You just get to do the whole All-Star experience -- you get to see everything, all the venues," said Zack Wheeler, another Futures Game alum and now Harvey's teammate on the Mets "It's a great time."
The 15th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game takes place at 2 p.m. ET on All-Star Sunday in New York and can be seen live 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.
Syndergaard and Montero, who recently earned promotions to Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas, respectively, will anchor the pitching staffs for the U.S. and World Teams -- there is even a chance the two could start against one another, given their standout seasons. But there are plenty of other impressive options on both rosters.
All-Star Sunday will give Syndergaard and Montero an opportunity to mingle with all of them, as prospects, before they reach superstar status. Who knew back in 2011, for example, that Harvey would transform from a mid-rotation prospect into one of the game's top pitchers? Or in 2012, that Wheeler was less than a year away from making his Mets debut?
"It's a huge honor to be selected and play in the Futures Game," Syndergaard said. "I'm really excited to represent the Mets and also represent my country. It was a goal of mine coming into this year to be at the Futures Game, and it's a huge achievement."
The history of the exhibition is littered with some of today's best players, from Harvey to Miguel Cabrera (2001-02), Paul Goldschmidt (2011), Carlos Gonzalez (2006-07), Bryce Harper (2011), Jose Reyes (2001), Justin Verlander (2005) and Adam Wainwright (2002).
Many of last year's participants have already cracked the Majors, including Wheeler, Nolan Arenado, Gerrit Cole, Manny Machado, Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar and Jean Segura.
"It was a great experience," Wheeler said. "It pays off what you've been working hard for. It gives you a little bit of hope as you're moving up the ranks of the Minor League system -- obviously you're doing well enough to be able to get chosen for the game."
"This is more about having fun," added Harvey. "You represent the organization, but it's a fun time. It's something that you take pride in and being a part of. You're playing with the best of the Minor Leagues at that time. It's something you look forward to. It definitely gives you hope. It's something you just need to enjoy."