Image credit: Ethan Salas (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
The 2023 Futures Game—marked by an eye-popping inning from Brewers righthander Jacob Misiorowski—is in the book. Now, we’re on to 2024 and Arlington, which will host all-star weekend.
If history is any indication, plenty of the prospects in this year’s game will be in the big leagues a year from now, yielding the spotlight to the next wave of upcoming big leaguers. At Baseball America, our objective is to identify those players as early as possible.
With that in mind, here are five players who could take the stage a year from now at Globe Life Field.
Ethan Salas, C, Padres
Salas is one of the youngest players in the full-season minor leagues, and it hasn’t taken him long to show the world why the Padres were comfortable skipping him over both complex leagues and letting him make his affiliated debut at Low-A as a 16-year-old. Even at such a young age, he’s already an outstanding defender behind the plate and has shown an outstanding mix of hittability and power against exclusively older arms. Padres fans got a taste of Salas during the Cactus League, and the early signs point to him entrenching himself behind the plate at Petco Park for a very long time.
Noah Schultz, LHP, White Sox
Schultz dealt with mononucleosis during his senior season of high school, which gave scouts a bit of a limited look at the lefthander. The White Sox snapped him up with the 26th overall pick and look to have gotten a steal. His 2023 season was delayed by injuries, but with Low-A Kannapolis he’s overpowered hitters with a three-pitch mix fronted by a sinking fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s and backed by one of the filthiest sliders in the minors. His changeup shows separation and drop as well, and should be at least an average offering.
Roman Anthony, OF, Red Sox
Even when he wasn’t producing in the early going, the signs were there that Anthony was just waiting to bust out. He had outstanding plate discipline and excellent exit velocities, meaning that he was swinging at the right pitches and hitting them hard, but they just weren’t translating. Boston bumped Anthony—who was selected in the supplemental second round of the 2022 draft—to High-A on June 13. Since then, his hard contact has been rewarded. After homering just once in 42 games at Low-A, Anthony has slammed seven longballs in 14 games at his new level.
Sebastian Walcott, SS, Rangers
Like Salas, Walcott signed in January and is in his first full season as a pro. He was moved from the DSL to the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League on June 20 and immediately took the circuit by storm. The Bahamian slugger swatted five home runs in his first 10 games stateside, including a 423-foot blast in his first at-bat. Scouts are divided about whether Walcott will play shortstop long term, but there’s no doubt that he has the tools to be a force in the middle of the lineup for years to come.
Samuel Basallo, C, Orioles
Basallo started making noise in the Florida Complex League in 2022 and this season has established himself as one of the best young backstop prospects in the minor leagues. The 18-year-old’s massive frame is the biggest impediment to him sticking behind the plate, but scouts all season long have graded his arm as at least double-plus. At the plate, that same power shows up in spades. Through 69 games with Low-A Delmarva, Basallo has slugged 11 home runs to go with strong plate discipline. Baltimore has a boatload of prospects clustered at the upper levels, but Basallo is one of their lower-minors jewels.