Fifty of the top prospects across the minor league landscape will get to shine on a worldwide stage as the rosters for the U.S. and World teams have been announced for the Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game.
A pair of Indians farmhands – catcher Francisco Mejia and right-handed reliever Kieran Lovegrove – will get a chance to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual competition between some of the top young ball players around minor league baseball.
Mejia, 22, will play in his third straight Futures Game, this time as a member of the Columbus Clippers. The Tribe’s top prospect has turned it around at the plate in a big way since a rough first two months to his campaign, putting up a .279/.327/.435 slash through 72 games at the time of the announcement. He hit just .187 with a .229 on-base percentage in 21 April dates and was slightly better in 22 May games, hitting .192 with a .291 OBP. June changed the entire course of his campaign, as in 24 games, he put up a .455/.476/.717 line with 14 doubles, four homers, and 23 RBI.
On the year, the non-drafted free agent addition in 2012 has also provided the Clippers’ lineup with 21 doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 42 RBI.
Mejia has already been recognized this season with a trip to this week’s Triple-A All-Star Game between the International League and the Pacific Coast League, hosted at the home park of the Columbus Clippers. The Dominican-born catcher/outfielder was also the league’s player of the week to close out the month of June.
Lovegrove, who was a teammate of Mejia’s in the first half of 2016 while both were members of the Class-A Lake County Captains, has put up impressive numbers at two different levels of the Indians farm system this season.
He began the year at High-A Lynchburg and pitched well serving as a multi-inning relief option for the Hillcats. He allowed runs in just three of his ten appearances for the club, posting a 3-0 record with two saves, a 1.56 ERA, and a 0.92 WHIP with 25 strikeouts and four walks in 17 1/3 innings of work. He was promoted to Double-A Akron for the first time in his professional career on May 13 and had appeared 15 times for the RubberDucks at the time of his selection to the Futures Game, earning a win and a save while posting a 1.25 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP with 21 strikeouts and 14 walks in 21 2/3 innings there.
The 23-year-old Lovegrove was a third round pick by the Indians in the 2012 draft out of Mission Viejo High School in California. The seventh-year pro was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is working towards becoming the second South African born player in Major League history (Gift Ngoepe).
Both Indians’ prospects will suit up as teammates again on the World roster, two of 25 men led by long-time MLB legend David Ortiz. Representing the Dominican Republic and South Africa, they will be joined by players from Australia, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.
The 25 members of the U.S. team will include former Indians left-hander Justus Sheffield, currently working with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the New York Yankees farm system. The young hurler was one of the key pieces in the trade between the Yankees and Indians for All-Star reliever Andrew Miller at the trade deadline in 2016.
He is joined by 19 different Top 100 prospects (MLB Pipeline), including the sixth and seventh players on the list, shortstops Brendan Rodgers (Colorado) and Bo Bichette (Toronto). The roster will boast seven different pitchers in the top half of MLB Pipeline’s list (compared to one for the World team) and four top-ten picks from the 2017 draft.
A former teammate of Ortiz’s, 19-year big leaguer Torii Hunter, will lead the U.S. roster. The two opposing managers played together with the Minnesota Twins from 1997 to 2002.
The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game exhibition will be part of the MLB All-Star festivities on Sunday, July 15, from Nationals Park. First pitch is scheduled for 4 PM ET, with the game airing on MLB Network and live streamed on MLB.com. The U.S. team will look to defend its 7-6 victory last season and its 12-7 record against the World all-time.
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