MINNEAPOLIS – Texas Rangers prospect Joey Gallo showed off his power with a soaring two-run homer in the sixth inning to give the U.S. team the lead for good in a 3-2 victory over the World squad Sunday at the All-Star Futures Game for baseball’s best minor leaguers.
Gallo’s one-out drive to right field off Houston Astros right-hander Michael Feliz was estimated at 419 feet. The 20-year-old third baseman for Double-A Frisco hit several other balls farther than that during a head-turning batting practice display at Target Field.
The assumed successor for four-time All-Star Adrian Beltre with the Rangers, Gallo has 31 homers and 73 RBIs this season in 85 games. He followed a two-run homer in the top of the sixth by Javier Baez against Washington Nationals right-hander Lucas Giolito.
University of New Mexico alumnus D.J. Peterson started for the U.S. team and went 1-for-2. He grounded out in the second inning and, facing New York Yankees farmhand Luis Severino, lined a double off the base of the left-field wall in the fourth.
Peterson plays for the Jackson (Tenn.) Generals, the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, who drafted him in 2013 with the No. 12 overall pick. Peterson is the first former Lobo to play in the Futures Game.
With so many bad teams in recent seasons, the Chicago Cubs have been collecting a tantalizing bunch of potential stars, with Baez and Kris Bryant at the top of the list.
Baez, the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, and Bryant, the second selection in 2013, comprise the left side of the infield for Triple-A affiliate Iowa.
Bryant went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts while playing third base for the U.S. team, which has won five straight Futures Games, and raised its record to 10-6 since the exhibition was started in 1999.
Until the Baez-Gallo home run derby that broke out in the sixth, this was much more of a showcase of pitching prospects, mirroring the major league trend toward more dominance on the mound and shrinking slugging percentages.
The first five U.S. pitchers tossed scoreless innings, starting with Henry Owens, the Double-A lefty for the Boston Red Sox.
Minnesota Twins right-hander Alex Meyer, who could soon be pitching on the same mound for the big league team, needed only four pitches for the fourth. His fastball reached 97 mph.
Meyer, acquired from the Nationals in a trade for center fielder Denard Span, has 103 strikeouts in 89-plus innings for Triple-A Rochester.
World team starter Jose Berrios, another Twins prospect, taken with the 32nd overall pick in the 2012 draft, struck out center fielder Michael Taylor of the Nationals to start the game and pitched a 1-2-3 inning.
Julio Urias, a native of Sinaloa, Mexico, currently at Class A Rancho Cucamonga for the Los Angeles Dodgers, became the youngest-ever Futures Game player. Urias, who will turn 18 on Aug. 12, pitched a perfect fifth. He struck out Taylor with a 94 mph fastball, and threw 11 of 14 pitches for strikes.
“He was composed. Whoom! Whoom! Whoom! My goodness gracious,” said U.S. team manager Tom Kelly, the former skipper of the Minnesota Twins.
Urias is 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 52 1-3 innings for the Rancho Cucamonga.
New York Mets Triple-A right-hander Noah Syndergaard, who started the game last year at his future home, Citi Field, got the save.
Twins fans in attendance also had World team first baseman Kennys Vargas to cheer, the David Ortiz clone who hit a double in four at-bats in the cleanup spot.
Kelly is currently a special instructor for the Twins. Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, who played for Kelly on the 1987 World Series-winning club, managed the World team.
In an ode to his Dutch heritage and class-clown personality, Blyleven presented the lineups before the game while wearing an oversized pair of yellow wooden shoes.
Gallo was picked as the MVP of the annual showcase.