Prospects Jacob Turner and Francisco Martinez have been teammates all season at Double-A Erie, but they'll be on opposing sides in two weeks at Chase Field in Phoenix, representing Detroit at this year's XM All-Star Futures Game.
Barring any changes, it'll mark the first time since 2007 that the Tigers have had two players participate. Last year, Andy Oliver was selected, but he was promoted to the Majors in late June, leaving Wilkin Ramirez as the lone representative.
Turner will be part of the pitching staff on the U.S. Team, and Martinez will employ his skills at third base for the World squad. Both entered the year on top-prospect lists (Turner at No. 1 and Martinez at No. 6 on MLB.com's ranking) and on an aggressive track of advancement, which placed them among the younger players in the Eastern League at age 20. Both have had their share of growing pains with the SeaWolves, but both have put up the recent performances that backed up their lofty reports.
Of the two, Turner has had the most regard nationally, ever since the Tigers made him their top pick in the 2009 Draft. After splitting his first pro season last year between Class A West Michigan and Lakeland, the Tigers promoted him to Erie to start the season, testing him in a more hitter-friendly league. So far he has turned in a performance that has meant much more than wins and losses.
Though Turner's victory last week against Portland was a relatively rare one, improving his record to 2-1, his 2.94 ERA ranks just outside the Eastern League's top 10. He has averaged more than six innings per start, tossing 79 2/3 innings over his 12 outings while limiting opponents to 65 hits. His 1.09 WHIP ratio ranks him fifth in the league, scattering 21 walks while striking out 64.
The Tigers could look to limit Turner's innings down the stretch in his second pro year, but an inning or so of work over the All-Star break won't be an obstacle.
Though he won't be 21 until Sept. 1, Martinez is in his fourth pro season. And after a slow start at Erie, his numbers show he's catching onto the pitching there. His .294 average includes a 28-for-82 showing in June with two homers and 18 RBIs after batting .333 in May. He had three straight three-hit games last week.
Martinez's seven home runs are one shy of his total over his previous three seasons combined. He has made 17 errors in 59 games at third.
The 13th annual Futures Game can be seen live on MLB.TV, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday on Taco Bell All-Star Sunday, July 10, at 6 p.m. ET. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on XM 175. MLB.com will provide complete coverage before, during and after the game, and you can keep up to date by following @MLBFutures on Twitter. Fans can join the Futures Game conversation by tagging tweets with #mlbfutures.
Major League Baseball, along with with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America, USA Baseball and the 30 clubs, selected the 25-man rosters for each club. Each organization is represented, and the World Team features players from 12 countries and territories. Players from all full-season Minor Leagues were eligible to participate.
Seventy-nine Major League All-Stars have come out of the Futures Game, including a record 38 last year. Tigers All-Stars Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde all took part in the Futures Game, as did potential All-Star Victor Martinez.