The biggest event on the calendar for the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series went off without a hitch this past weekend.
The biggest event was truly the Main Event.
The sixth annual installment — second under the Main Event moniker after the first four years as International Week before MLB policy changes for amateur international players at big league parks required some changes be made — was arguably the best yet, featuring a Game 1 at four-time minor-league Ballpark of the Year Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford that finished in under 2:30.
“Some of the most efficient baseball I’ve seen played at any level,” said Program 15 Sports CEO and president, Jeremy Booth.
“There are big league clubs that can’t play 9 inning games in 2.5 hours. We had strikes thrown, plus breaking balls, plus defense, fastball command, situational hitting, base stealing, caught stealings, power, and productive entertaining baseball complete with ceiling and early round drafts. It’s great to be a part of something like that and be tasked to lead the initiative to change the game for the better. Everyone plays a part in the staff side and so many people put their heart and soul into it. It’s different here and that’s the point. Not showcase baseball, real baseball.”
Real good baseball, that is, with one veteran of the game considering Friday’s opener to be the best, cleanest and most crisp amateur game he’s seen anywhere in the past decade.
While the Main Event featured a record-breaking three home runs — which breaks the previous mark of two, set in 2019 when future MLB draft picks Zac Veen and David Calabrese (inside the park) both found themselves in the HR column on the stat sheet. Cooper Pratt and Tyler Minnick both used the longball to break open a tight game in Hartford on Friday, while Collin Priest hit the first over-the-fence homer in a big league park in the history of the event on Saturday, going yard deep into the bullpen at Fenway Park.
Speaking of Fenway Park, that doubleheader was…well, the main event of the Main Event. After an as advertised pitching matchup in the opener in Hartford that saw Ethan Sutton and Hudson Hamilton nearly match each other pitch-for-pitch — not to mention a dazzling relief showing by Javier Torres — Game 2 was somewhat of an offensive display once starters Luke McNeillie and Zane Adams were out after their respective three-inning outings. Game 3 also featured an outstanding starting pitching matchup, with Jake Brown, fresh off of winning a gold medal with Team USA, opposed by reigning New Jersey player of the year, Alex Kranzler, a game that also featured an eye-opening relief outing by Cody New.
That’s not to say the bats didn’t shine, however. Many turned in memorable performances, including David Ballenilla, Zach Plasschaert, Daniel Harden, Zion Rose, Austin Lemon, Boston Baro, Anthony Cole, Walker Barron, Tre Phelps, David Stanley, to name a few. There will surely be a bevy of future draft picks to come out of the event, just as there has been in years past, with dozens of players having played in it, including top prospects like Veen, Grayson Rodriguez, Daniel Espino, Dylan Crews, Mick Abel, Ricky Tiedemann and Cam Collier.
It’s no surprise that the seats behind the plate were filled with seemingly countless big-league scouts and executives on both days, with the excitement of the clubs in attendance to see what the Future Stars Series always had in store that others routinely miss on full display, particularly the culture and focus on development over showcasing. The seats that weren’t filled with scouts were packed by family and fans, with a particularly big turnout at Fenway Park.
Even with the games being broadcast live on DAZN by the excellent broadcast crew of Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette, every player was posted on social media throughout the weekend, with more content to come on the official Future Stars Series YouTube channel and website.
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