U.S. notes: A glimpse of the bigs
Top prospects excited to participate in Futures Game
SAN FRANCISCO -- The first time that Brian Bocock stepped onto the field at AT&T Park, things looked a lot different than the Giants prospect had expected. He made the trip to San Francisco last December, when the stadium was being prepped to host the Emerald Bowl.
"They got us out here for conditioning camp, but there was no dirt on the field," Bocock said with a laugh. "They were getting ready to play a bowl game here. It was fun to be here, be in the stadium, but this is great."
The ballpark was more to Bocock's liking Sunday, when he and 47 other top Minor Leaguers were in attendance for the ninth annual XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game. For Bocock, the lone Giants prospect on the U.S. roster, the exhibition contest provided him a glimpse of the place he hopes to play as a big leaguer.
"I'm lucky, because this is where I want to be -- in this city, with this club and organization," said Bocock, who was selected in the ninth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. "I'm excited about the whole deal. It's just fun being out here and being with these guys, getting to know them, too."
In 78 games this season, Bocock has hit .262 with two home runs and 42 RBIs between two Class A levels for the Giants. Most recently, the shortstop has advanced to high Class A San Jose, which is less than an hour away from AT&T Park.
"We're close, but not close enough," Bocock said.
While Bocock was getting acquainted with the surroundings, Cleveland pitching prospect Chuck Lofgren felt like he was back home. Lofgren, who is 8-6 with a 4.53 ERA at Double-A Akron, grew up in nearby Redwood City and spent many summer days taking in Giants games when he was younger.
"I've been to this park a bunch of times," Lofgren said. "Me and my friends used to hang out here and eat Dippin' Dots behind the center-field scoreboard and watching Barry Bonds hit homers into the Cove. I grew up a huge Giants fan."
In fact, Lofgren -- graduated from Junipero Serra High School -- the same school that Bonds attended long before becoming San Francisco's left fielder. Lofgren's familiarity with the city and team opened the door for some unique media requests during his stay in the Bay Area as well.
"First day back, I took a couple camera crews [from MiLB.com] around San Francisco," he said. "I took them on a trolley and down to Pier 39 to see the seals and Alcatraz. It's been a good time."
Just visiting: Cameron Maybin ranks among the top prospects in baseball, but on Sunday, the Detroit Minor Leaguer was little more than a fan. He was named to the U.S. team, but couldn't participate after suffering a partially separated shoulder on an attempt at a diving catch for Class A Lakeland.
"Especially when I put the uniform on, I was really kind of upset about not being able to play," Maybin said. "But for them to still invite me out, I thought that was cool. I'm definitely honored to still be out here and be around another group of great guys. I'm definitely enjoying out here."
While he's in town, Maybin hopes to take advantage of the chance to meet with Reds slugger Ken Griffey Jr. When Maybin was in high school, he played summer ball in Cincinnati and struck a frienship with Griffey, who took the prospect under his wing.
Every now and then, Maybin and Griffey will catch up on the phone and the Cincinnati outfielder will offer advice for Detroit's 2005 first-round pick. Tough schedules have made it more difficult for the pair to talk as much this season, but agent Brian Goldberg, who represents both players, has become a go-between.
"He's always checking up on me," said Maybin, who is hitting .303 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 74 games for Lakeland. "It's definitely good to know. I know I have to play well, especially if he's checking up on me. I know I have to bring the game."
I know you: Bryan Anderson felt it was only fitting that he and Colby Rasmus were both selected to suit up for the U.S. in the Futures Game. The pair of Cardinals prospects are teammates at Double-A Springfield and have been friends since they were each drafted by St. Louis in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
"It's sweet," said Anderson, who is hitting .328 with five home runs and 33 RBIs as Springfield's catcher this year. "We've played together the last three years, and we knew each other even in high school a little bit. This is awesome. I wouldn't want to come here with anybody else. We're really good friends, and it's a blast being here with him."
Rasmus, who had a .258 batting average with 16 homers and 52 RBIs in 81 games at Double-A, was also looking forward to getting to know some of the other top prospects who would be in attendance at AT&T Park.
"It's great coming out here with some of these guys," said the young outfielder. "A lot of these guys I've heard a lot about. I get to see them and hang out with them, that kind of stuff."
Who's the new kid: A year ago, Dodgers prospect Clayton Kershaw was just out of high school and getting used to being away from home, let alone being a pro player. On Sunday, the 19-year-old was a Futures Game pitcher and the youngest player on the U.S. roster.
"I walked out to the field today and just stared around, just looked at everything," said Kershaw, who is 7-3 with a 2.12 ERA for the Great Lakes Loons in the Midwest League. "I've heard of pretty much everybody in this room. Just to be a part of this, to be around the locker room with all these guys, is pretty incredible. I'm just going to soak it in today."
Right name, wrong team: When Twins Minor Leaguer Matt Tolbert arrived at AT&T Park on Sunday, he found that his U.S. jersey wasn't quite ready. It fit fine, but his uniform featured a Tigers' emblem on the sleeve instead of the Minnesota logo.
"I think I might have to put some tape over it or something," joked Tolbert, who had the proper patch sewn on before the Futures Game's first pitch. "At least I've got the right hat to wear."
The Futures' past: Among the 2007 class of American League and National League All-Stars, 22 players are alumni of the Futures Game, including eight first-time All-Stars. In all, there have been 39 players who have been selected for a Futures Game and a Major League All-Star Game.
Did you know? Since being created in 1999, the Futures Game has had 11 different Hall of Famers serve as managers during the annual contest. This year, Dave Winfield was at the helm for the U.S., and Juan Marichal managed the World team.
Quotable: "Being out here taking BP was pretty sweet. You get all those pearls out there. You don't see those pearls too much in the Minor Leagues." --Rasmus
Coming up: On Monday, Phillies slugger Ryan Howard will aim to retain his crown in the State Farm Home Run Derby at 8 p.m. ET. The American League and National League will then square off in the 78th All-Star Game at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday at AT&T Park.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Reporters Jason Beck, Anthony Castrovince and Kelly Thesier contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.