Skaggs, Goldschmidt to Play in Futures Game

Top Arizona Diamondbacks prospects Tyler Skaggs and Paul Goldschmidt will play on the US team in the 13th annual Futures Game to be played in Phoenix on July 10th. Skaggs and Goldschmidt follow a long line of D-backs Futures Game stars who are currently successful major leaguers.

Tyler Skaggs is a 19-year-old southpaw who pitches in a league where the average age for pitchers is 23.2 and the average for hitters is 22.4.  Nevertheless, Skaggs has dominated.  His 102 strikeouts paces the California League by a wide margin, and he has a 2.68 ERA since the end of April.  On Tuesday, he started the California/Carolina All-Star Game and pitched a perfect inning, fanning two of the three All-Stars he faced.  If he continues to perform the way he has, the much-maligned Dan Haren trade will begin to look like a solid transaction for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Paul Goldschmidt has been the best hitter in Minor League Baseball over the past two calendar years.  He won the California League MVP award last year in what now appears to have been a down season for him.  His .314/.384/.606 slash line was well short of his current career marks of .323/.407/.626. 

He is leasing the Southern League in practically every offensive category and has cut down on his strikeout totals drastically.  After whiffing once every 3.7 plate appearances last season, the behemoth Texan has fanned just every 5.9 plate appearances this season.  Goldschmidt is so feared that he has been intentionally walked 11 times in 70 games.  Even that strategy can backfire, as the 245-plus pound phenom also has swiped six bases.  Just in case his offensive prowess wasn't enough, Goldschmidt has only committed three errors all season, giving him a .995 fielding percentage.

More than just an honor, being selected to the Futures Game portends future success. Between 2005 and 2008, the only Diamondbacks prospect to play in a futures name and not eventually wind up in the big leagues was Jamie D'Antona, a late addition to the 2008 roster who elected to play in Japan the following season. The other seven are major league stars - Miguel Montero ('05), Conor Jackson ('05), Stephen Drew ('06), Carlos Gonzalez ('06 & '07), Justin Upton ('07), Emilio Bonifacio ('08), and Gerardo Parra ('08). Also, Chris Young ('05), Trent Oeltjen ('06), and Brett Anderson ('08) each played in the Diamondbacks system, but were with other organizations when they played in their Futures Games.

Last summer, Pedro Ciriaco represented the Diamondbacks in the Futures game.  He then made his major league debut with the Pirates in September and had a cup of coffee with them again this year.

There is little doubt that Skaggs and Goldschmidt will soon join the ranks of successful  major leaguers who are veterans of the Futures Game.  Goldschmidt will be a September callup this season at the very latest and Skaggs only appears to be a year or two away despite his youth.

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