The 2018 Futures Game turned into a veritable Home Run Derby, with eight home runs split evenly between the World and USA teams (and another that should have been of the inside-the-park variety). The Blue Jays were representatives by two starters in the US lineup, Bo Bichette at shortstop and Danny Jansen behind the plate, 2nd and 7th respectively.
It was Jansen who touched off the fireworks for the US team in the 4th. Facing Australian lefty Lewis Thorpe (AA, Twins), Jansen took a fastball and then fouled a 91 MPH fastball off. Thorpe came back with a change-up that didn’t fade and caught too much of the plate, and Jansen punished it.
It wasn’t the most majestic of shots, landing a few rows into the stands close to right down the line, likely the shortest of the home runs on on afternoon of some absolute moonshots (including a ball utterly destroyed by Peter Alonso with an exit velocity of 113 MPH at an angle of 46 degrees; Statcast has apparently never previously recorded a ball hit that hard at an angle of more than 40 degrees).
Below is a summary of Bichette and Jansen’s afternoon:
- Bottom 1st v. Jesus Luzardo (AA, OAK): took a 94 MPH fastball, then swing at the second, hitting a routine flyout the other way to RF
- Bottom 3rd v. Bryan Mata (low-A, BOS): fell behind 1-2 after taking a fastball and then fouling two off (all 94-95 MPH), took a curveball inside and then fought off another fastball at 95, a slow roller though into centre for a single.
- Bottom 4th v. old friend Jesus Tinoco (AA, COL): swung at a first pitch fastball at 94 and flied out to very shallow right field
- Bottom 2nd v. Luzardo: took a pair of 84/85 MPH change-ups to get ahead 0-2, then a couple fastballs at 95 and 94 to even up the count before getting rung up on a nice 83 MPH slider on the inside corner.
- Bottom 4th v. Thorpe: the home run
Defensively, Bichette was not really tested for the four innings he was in the game defensively, handing a couple of popups, venturing into shallow left-centre on the latter. Jansen had the challenge of catching three pitchers with serious velocity in Mitch Keller, Justis Sheffield, Hunter Greene and Matt Manning.
While all were throwing in the mid-90s or higher, Green was in a league of his own, sitting the easiest 101-102 MPH you’ll ever see (touching a 103). A few balls got by him, including a wild pitch charged to Manning and a 99 MPH fastball that got away from Keller, those were ore the result of hard throwing pitchers being amped up on a big stage and airing it out for a short outing.