KANSAS CITY -- If you hadn't heard of Jae-Hoon Ha (and if you've been reading Josh's minor league wraps, you surely have) before Sunday's Futures Game in Kansas City, you definitely have now, after he hit a two-run homer in the second inning of the USA's 17-5 blowout win over the World team (or, as the link says, "undefined vs. undefined").
That wasn't the result I would have necessarily expected from Ha's at-bats in the game; he's not really a power hitter, though he hit 11 last year combined between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. He has just three this year in 81 games at Tennessee, but this one, off Pirates prospect Gerrit Cole (who was the first overall pick in the 2011 draft) was a no-doubter to straightaway center field. At 21, perhaps Ha can eventually develop mid-range power. He later singled before being taken out of the game.
Josh had sent me a tweet earlier that I should try to get a "HOON! HA!" chant going, the same way that fans of the outfielder do at his home games. With very, very few Cubs fans in evidence near my section, I figured no one would have known what I was talking about. He didn't need my help, anyway.
The pitchers for the World team could have used some help. Yordano Ventura (Royals) and Jose Fernandez (Marlins) managed to get through the first two innings without giving up a run as the World team fashioned a 4-0 lead off Jake Odorizzi (Royals), Cole and Danny Hultzen (Mariners).
But few of the other World pitchers escaped unscathed. It appeared that the two managers (former Yankees star Bernie Williams for the World team and Royals Hall of Famer George Brett for the USA) were going to give each pitcher one inning's worth of pitching. That theory blew up when Ariel Pena (Angels) almost literally couldn't get anyone out. He faced nine batters and retired one of them, issuing one walk and giving up seven hits, most of them hit quite hard. The USA team wound up blowing a close (6-5) game open with a nine-run seventh inning.
Most of the cheers were reserved for the two starting pitchers, both from the Royals organization, and outfielder Wil Myers, top Kansas City prospect who is blowing away minor-league pitching this year. Split between Double-A and Triple-A, he's hitting .327/.403/.676 with 27 home runs and 72 RBI in 83 games. Though he's just 21, I would not be surprised to see him in Kansas City even before September callups.
The game's MVP was Nick Castellanos (Tigers), who DH'd for the USA team and went 3-for-4 with a home run. I know he's been the subject of "want" from many here who think he might be able to be a part of a deal sending pitching to Detroit. Castellanos is just 20 and hasn't played above Double-A yet, but combined between High-A and Double-A he's batting .371/.412/.529 this season. A third baseman, he'd fill a need (presuming Josh Vitters would likely be part of any such trade), although he still might be a year away.
The crowd was announced as 40,095, which is a sellout, though there appeared to be many empty seats in the corners of both the lower and upper deck. Truth be told, the seats were more filled for the celebrity softball game. It was fun to see Andre Dawson pick up a bat again; he's still in fine physical shape and whacked a home run (and played both first base and catcher!). Andre will be 58 tomorrow. Where does the time go?
My seat for the Home Run Derby tonight is in section 251 at the K, prime territory for perhaps catching a ball or two from the lefthanded hitters (Carlos Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder and switch-hitter Carlos Beltran) participating. Hope to send out some tweets during the Derby.