Future Stars Series pro ball alumni update

March 5, 2023

The only three-time invitee to International Week (now known as the Main Event) made a big impression in his Grapefruit League debut, headlining a big week of big showings for Future Stars Series alums across big league spring training.

Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Mick Abel — who pitched in the Future Stars Series event in 2017 and 2018, but wowed staffers a year later when he still showed up to Fenway Park despite being too sick to participate — worked a scoreless sixth inning against the Detroit Tigers, touching 98.5 MPH with his fastball as he worked around a hit and a walk to induce an inning-ending double play in an efficient, 11-pitch frame.

The 15th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Abel has earned a meteoric ascent through the system and is regarded as one of the top two pitching prospects in the Phillies organization; he split his second pro year between High-A Jersey Shore and Double-A Reading last season, striking out 130 batters over 108 1/3 innings pitched.

Grayson Rodriguez is on the cusp of the big leagues. Rodriguez, who would become the second major-leaguer that the 2017 International Week event has helped produce following Bo Naylor‘s debut last season, may have beaten Naylor, who he faced twice in Sugar Land that year, to The Show had an injury not sidelined him for nearly half of 2022.

But the 22-year-old righty, selected 11th overall by the Baltimore Orioles in 2018, seems poised to make the big club out of camp this year, and got off to a big start on Thursday by spinning two no-hit innings against the Detroit Tigers, striking out one and walking one. Facing a lineup with Javier Baez and Spencer Torkelson towards the top, perhaps Rodriguez’s most impressive feat was inducing a double play off the bat of future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera on a 98.7 miles per hour fastball.

“There’s no doubt he has Major League starter stuff,” manager Brandon Hyde told MLB.com. “Now it’s just about command and seeing more Major League hitters.”

Zac Veen is making the most of consistent opportunities to make a big impression in Colorado Rockies camp. Alongside another Future Stars Series alum, fellow Rockies farmhand and top catching prospect Drew Romo, Veen has been opening a lot of eyes after a perhaps-sluggish adjustment to the Double-A level that he made at just 20 years old.

After hitting just .177 with the Hartford Yard Goats, Veen made the necessary adjustments to rake in the Arizona Fall League to the tune of a .333/.444./.444 slash line in 99 plate appearances, and has carried that momentum right into big league spring training. Veen homered and doubled in his first game of the spring on February 25, but continued to show one of the somehow still more under-appreciated part of his toolset on Saturday in Colorado’s 7-1 win over the Seattle Mariners, stealing three bases. He now has seven in just eight games.

Veen is likely to start the season back in Double-A Hartford, but at minimum, could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A by midseason if he can find his stroke again in the minors.

You can’t do better than Ricky Tiedemann in his big league spring training debut. Three up, three down for one of the fastest rising pitching prospects in the game, who may be pitching in Toronto sooner rather than later.

Tiedemann went from Future Stars to Futures Game in the span about a year — like Veen, he was a member of the National Team in an absolutely stacked 2019 International Week event, but then dazzled at the 2021 Pre-Draft Combine before going 91st overall to the Blue Jays shortly thereafter — and is universally considered to be one of the game’s brightest young arms. That was on display and then some Tuesday when he used his three-pitch mix to blow through Javier Baez, Austin Meadows and Matt Vierling, including a 99.4 MPH fastball to retire Baez on four pitches.

Just 20 years old, Tiedemann blew through the system last year to the tune of a 5-4 record and 2.17 ERA in 18 starts across three levels, but has yet to reach Triple-A, which is where he’ll likely start the season, barring a still not out of the question big league debut as a member of the Opening Day roster.

Kyren Paris made a huge impression on Tuesday, driving in a whopping five runs for the Los Angeles Angels in their 11-5 win over the Oakland Athletics. Still only 21 years old, the 2018 International Week alum — and teammate of Abel’s in that event — Paris saw some time at second base as he continues to show his positional versatility after being drafted solely as a shortstop, but truly shined with the bat, sandwiching a bases-loaded walk between a two-run sixth inning triple, and a two-run ninth-inning double.

Paris’ stock has been trending upwards of late after invite to the prestigious Arizona Fall League last year that served as a reward after a year in which he reached Double-A Rocket City after a late-season call-up, hitting .359 with three home runs in just 51 at-bats at that level.

Mike Ashmore
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