Conger's 3-run homer lifts US team to Futures win

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Hank Conger hit a three-run homer and the United States, boosted by a pair of Angels up-and-comers, snapped a three-year losing streak in the Futures Game with a 9-1 win over the World squad Sunday.

Eric Hosmer doubled among his four hits and drove in two runs for the U.S. team in a game showcasing top prospects from all of baseball's minor leagues -- featuring 50 players representing 10 countries.

The World team committed four errors, twice allowing 18-year-old Angels prospect Mike Trout to reach base. Trout, the youngest player participating, doubled in the eighth and showed off some speed that could have him playing on this very field at Angel Stadium in a few years.

Conger's clout off Henderson Alvarez provided the highlight in an exhibition event that gives most of these young men their first exposure to playing on the big stage in a major league ballpark.

After stepping on home plate following the homer, U.S. teammates Trout and Hosmer formed a Conger line to greet the Angels' Triple-A catcher. He was picked MVP.

Desmond Jennings added an RBI single and scored three runs and Austin Romine doubled in a run for the U.S.

Players signed autographs and posed for pictures before eagerly taking the field.

"Hopefully I can get on ESPN tonight," quipped Dodgers prospect Dee Gordon, a Double-A standout while signing in the dugout.

Gordon hustled to catch Alex Liddi's foul popup in front of the U.S. dugout to start the fourth and nearly tripped doing so. Nice play nonetheless.

Others were a tad nervous for the chance to showcase their talent for scores of scouts on their own teams and others. A giant star was mowed into the center-field grass at Angel Stadium two days ahead of the real show: the All-Star game.

U.S. manager Don Baylor and World coach Tony Franklin took time to remind the players the field dimensions are the same and they wouldn't need to change a thing despite a bigger stage.

Baylor was committed to keeping his promise to get all 25 players on the roster into the game -- and he did so. Right-hander Tanner Scheppers of the Texas organization entered with one out in the ninth to seal the deal -- hitting 101 mph on the radar gun with a pitch.

World manager Cookie Rojas also used his entire roster.

"Their moms and dads tune in, their grandmas and grandpas," said Baylor, the Colorado Rockies' hitting coach. "It's not like our major league All-Star game. You want these kids to come in and have fun playing. You tell them: 'There are no changes you have to make ... just show your talent, just relax. Adrenalin's going to take over."'

"Have fun, enjoy it because it's probably you're first experience in a major league setting that you'll enjoy for the next 15 years," said Franklin, manager of the Yankees' Double-A Trenton club. "There will probably be some butterflies flying."

The World team had won the past three Futures Games, becoming the first squad to do so in the event's history. This marked the 12th year Major League Baseball has showed off its rising stars during All-Star week.

Phillies Triple-A right fielder Domonic Brown, who started and batted cleanup for the United States, left after his first-inning RBI single with tightness in his right hamstring.

Brown was replaced by Trout, the Angels prospect who turns 19 on Aug. 7. Trout received a warm greeting from the hometown crowd when he stepped into the batter's box in the third. He is hitting .362 for the Angels' Class A affiliate in Cedar Rapids.

Trout reached on an error, then was quickly caught stealing.

U.S. third baseman Mike Moustakas, at Double-A in the Royals organization, nearly turned a pretty double play in the second when he lunged to his right and made a backhanded stop of a sharp grounder by Wilin Rosario. The World's lone run scored on the play.

NOTES: Spain's dramatic 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in the World Cup final was shown on the two big screens at Angel Stadium. ... Several stars from last year's Futures Game in St. Louis are now in the majors, including Jason Heyward, Neftali Feliz and Carlos Santana. ... Before the game, teams held spring training-like drills such as outfield fielding practice -- something rarely done in the majors these days during the season.