July 14th, 2014
Way Cool. No doubt about it, Minneapolis is way cool. I walked outside today in just a short sleeve logo shirt and almost got blown away. The forecast isn’t too good for tonight’s Home Run Derby. But hey, this is only July.
When I arrived in Minneapolis on Saturday it was pouring. I mean pouring. Living in Arizona, I hadn’t seen rain for months. It was a welcome sight and it went away quickly.
The City of Minneapolis is all dressed up in All Star finery. The local folks have been great. Very friendly. They bring warmth to the chilly outdoors.
Yesterday was my first look at Target Field. The stone on the outside gives it a special look and the interior is done tastefully as well. I enjoyed that everything is well marked and easy to find. Beautiful place.
I was pleased to speak with several of the players prior to the Futures Game. Joey Gallo told me about he and Kris Bryant growing up together and Gallo’s dad throwing batting practice to the guys. Gallo’s older brother played with Bryant. Gallo is a bit younger.
Kris Bryant indicated he is really happy to be playing with Manny Ramirez, one of his new coaches. He said Ramirez takes time to help him and that Ramirez is a very hard worker. Bryant really appreciates being around him. Bryant wore number 23 in the Home Run Derby, but he won’t be getting that number when he’s with the Cubs. It belongs to Ryne Sandburg.
I asked Indians shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor to tell me something he’s never told another writer. He laughed and said he was a member of Concert Choir in high school. He loved it, but he said he can’t sing.
I can’t tell you how impressive Joey Gallo’s batting practice was. He cleared the stadium over the right field wall and shattered a window on a display car. He said he broke a window once before in his Minor League career. This guy has awesome power. And he’s working hard to control his strikeouts.
Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien put on quite a show. Usually a guy goes easy in his first round of batting practice. Not O’Brien. He was swinging for the fences on the first pitch. I was standing next to the batting cage and I asked him about it. He said he “had to get his rips in when he could.” Makes sense to me. Everybody was watching. He’s definitely on my radar now. And he took every swing with a smile on his face.
The Red Sox Henry Owens and the Mets Noah Syndergaard both told me before the game they would mix in some off speed pitches to go along with their wicked heat. They did and it kept hitters off balance. Syndergaard is sporting a “modified” mohawk. He loves it and it looks good on his tall, thin frame.
It was amazing to see legend Tony Oliva out on the field with the World Team. He can probably still hit. He still walks with a limp from his bad wheels, but Oliva looks like he can play today. Bert Blyleven threw batting practice to the World Team and kept telling the players “I gave up lots of homers in my career, so don’t be shy about doing it to me here.”
Nationals pitcher Lucas Gioloto got touched for 2 hits, and 2 earned runs in his 2/3 inning of work. He suffered a blown save. Larry Doby Futures Game MVP Joey Gallo saved the day for the U S Team with the Tigers Jake Thompson getting the win. Syndergaard picked up the save.
The U S Team struck out eight times. The World Team 10. There were only two walks issued in the game, one by the Angels Victor Alcantara and the other by the Orioles Hunter Harvey.
I was blown away by Mariners prospect Gabby Guerrero’s physical resemblance to his uncle Vladimir Guerrero. He looks, swings and acts just like him. I predict a huge future for him as a game-changing hitter. He needs some more meat on his frame, but he has all the makings of a star. He doesn’t wear batting gloves…yet.
Orioles outfielder Daniel Alvarez has a great arm. Both in strength and accuracy.
We may have Big Papi junior in Twins prospect Kennys Vargas. I’ve heard comparison to former Pirates star Dave Parker. I agree.
Keep your eye on Tigers prospect outfielder Steven Moya. This guy has big time power on a tall, thin body. He has work to do on recognizing pitches coming off the bat, but he’ll hit his way on to the Tigers club. Big upper body with thin legs. Quick hands can take the pitch to the opposite field for him.
OMG-there’s a candy and popcorn store right next to my hotel. I promise I’ve only purchased the smallest size carmel corn…twice. The one that’s loaded with a variety of nuts.
Food carts are huge here in Minneapolis. They’re on every corner. But I haven’t ventured down that road…yet. If I do, I’ve learned to choose the one with the longest line. Makes sense, right? Or is that just because people are told to choose the food cart with the longest line? You see my point, right?
A guy in the Celebrity Softball Game was named Fat Joe. He was.
Ricky Henderson could probably play today and steal bases. He’s in great shape. Looks wonderful and can still play the game.
I think the World Team had better overall players yesterday, but they still lost the game. I’m just sayin’.
It’s such a shame that Twins prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton weren’t in the Futures Games lineups. Buxton is just now returning and Sano is still hurt. But Alex Meyer threw 95-96 in his four pitch inning, making the Twins proud. And of course, Vargas represented the club well. Jose Berrios threw well.
Tonight is the Home Run Derby. You may want to check out my MLB.com feature on the original 1960 Home Run Derby television show. I loved watching that and I wanted to bring it back to life in my MLB.com piece. Hope you like it.
As always, thanks for reading my work on MLB.com and MLBPipeline.com. Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. And please listen to Short Hops, our podcast on iTunes.
That’s it. I’m done.