2:05 AM UTC
It’s time for the second (we hope) annual Unofficial Futures Game Batting Practice Home Run Derby Draft (UFGBPHRDD?)!
Last year, Jim Callis and I drafted XMSirius All-Star Futures Game players and tracked how many home runs each hit during batting practice, somewhat formalizing what’s been an unofficial hobby for years. Maybe someday the Futures Game Home Run Derby will be an official part of the festivities..
For now, though, we’re content drafting a mini-roster of four hitters each and tracking who hits more combined homers during BP. Last year, I emerged victorious, riding Spencer Torkelson’s 10 homers to the winner’s circle.
Callis is hoping to draw even this year and got the first pick by virtue of finishing “last” in 2021. Here’s how the draft went down, and you can hear all of it on this week’s MLB Pipeline Podcast.
1. Callis — Jordan Walker, 3B, Cardinals (MLB No. 7 prospect): The 6-foot-5 Walker gets a 65 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale for his future power and has put up consistently ridiculous exit velocities as a pro.
2. Mayo — Elly De La Cruz, SS/3B, Reds (MLB No. 49): He served notice that his power was real by slugging .538 in 61 games last year and has upped that to .610 with 20 homers in 72 games this season.
3. Callis — Francisco ?lvarez, C, Mets (MLB No. 2): The 20-year-old backstop slammed 24 homers last year and already has 18 in 2022 while starting to knock on the big league door with a recent promotion to Triple-A.
4. Mayo — Robert Hassell III, OF, Padres (MLB No. 23): A little bit of a risk pick here, as Hassell has been more hit over power thus far in his career, but something tells me he’s going to put on a show on this stage.
5. Callis — Jhonkensy Noel, 3B/1B, Guardians (CLE No. 13): This is a power-over-hit gamble and Noel does have a 60 power grade while showing it definitely plays in games as he is currently tied for the Minor League lead with 25 home runs.
6. Mayo — Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B, Orioles (MLB No. 5): This is another prospect with 60 power and he has 13 (8 in Double-A and 5 in 29 Triple-A games after a slow start post-promotion) homers this year after finishing with 17 in 2021.
7. Callis — Matt Wallner, OF, Twins (MIN No. 8): There aren’t too many prospects with more raw pop than Wallner, and while there were concerns that swing-and-miss would impact his ability to tap into that power as a pro, he has 21 homers and a .596 SLG this season.
8. Mayo — Mark Vientos, 3B/1B, Mets (NYM No. 5): He hit 25 long balls a year ago and has 15 in Triple-A so far this year, with 12 of those coming after a slow April start.