OAKLAND -- An invitation to the All-Star Futures Game often means the Major Leagues are not very far away. Current Reds Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Chris Heisey have played in the showcase of top Minor League talent in the past. This year, the honor has been given to first baseman Yonder Alonso and lefty reliever Philippe Valiquette. They both play at Triple-A Louisville.
The 12th annual XM All-Stars Futures Game, which has prospects from the United States play against the best from the rest of the World, will be held at Angel Stadium on Sunday, July 12, at 6 p.m. ET. MLB.com will provide complete coverage before, during and after the game, which can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on XM 175.
Both Alonso, a native of Cuba, and Valiquette, a Canadian from Montreal, will play for the World Team.The 23-year-old Alonso, the club's 2008 first-round Draft pick, is batting a combined .245 with five home runs and 31 RBIs with Double-A Carolina and Louisville this season. He has played both first base and has been tried out in left field as well. "He's played more first base, which has probably relaxed him in all facets of his game. The numbers may not reflect it, but he's hit the ball hard all year without much luck," said Terry Reynolds, the Reds senior director of player development. "He is as good of a hitting prospect as we have." Valiquette, 23, was 2-0 with a 3.99 ERA in 25 games with 16 walks and 21 strikeouts. He was recently promoted to Louisville, where he has appeared in two games and allowed two runs in 1 1/3 innings. Taken in the seventh round of the 2004 Draft, Valiquette can throw up to 98 mph, but had command issues during Spring Training in big league camp. Reports have indicated he's gotten more consistent in the strike zone. "He's got one of the better arms in our organization," Reynolds said. "He has come a long way in the years since we drafted him. He was a Canadian kid that hadn't played a lot. He's worked hard to get where he is."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.