Royals prospects shine in Futures Game
Butler goes deep, wins MVP honors; Gordon drives in a pair
PITTSBURGH -- Hang in there Kansas City, help is on the way.That fact was never more evident than on Sunday, when a pair of highly regarded Royals prospects added to their growing reputation with outstanding performances in the XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game at PNC Park. Left fielder Billy Butler homered, singled and drove in two runs to win MVP honors, and third baseman Alex Gordon went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs to help the U.S. Team to an 8-5 victory over the World Team. Butler is the second consecutive Kansas City prospect to win Futures Game MVP honors, following Justin Huber last year. "Whoever is [on the Futures team] next year, they've got to be kind of nervous because of the expectations," Gordon said. "Billy really knows how to hit the ball." Both Butler and Gordon started and played five innings, and both played flawless defense. Gordon struck out his first time up, singled to left in the third then added a double in his final at-bat. "[World pitcher Jose Garcia] kind of froze me with a curveball [in the first at-bat]," Gordon said. Gordon is hitting .301, 11th-best in the Texas League, with 11 homers, 40 RBIs, 24 doubles, a triple and 58 runs for the Double-A Wichita Wranglers. He also has 16 stolen bases and has only been thrown out attempting to steal twice. His .909 on-base-plus-slugging percentage ranks fourth in the Texas League. Gordon, a member of the 2004 U.S. National team, was drafted second overall in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Only 22 years old, he won the Golden Spikes Award while at Nebraska and was ranked as the No. 13 prospect this preseason by MLB.com His quick rise through the system is being watched closely by both management and fans, but Gordon doesn't know when he will join the Royals. He said team officials have told him to "just keep doing what you've been doing."
"I think everybody thinks about getting called up, no one wants to be in the Minor Leagues," Gordon said. "Everybody has that thought, but you've got to take it one step at a time."Butler, 20, was selected 14th overall in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. He was named the best hitter for average, power and strike zone judgment in the Royals organization by Baseball America. His two-run homer off a Garcia curveball in the second inning gave the U.S. Team the lead for good. "This was a really good experience for both of us," Butler said. "There's a lot of talent here, and that's how you get better -- by playing against talent like this." The California League All-Star and Rookie of the Year Award winner last year is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the organization by Baseball America and was ranked the No. 26 prospect in the Minors this preseason by MLB.com. Butler is hitting .318, fourth-best in the Texas League, with 10 homers and 59 RBIs. He has 106 hits, including 23 doubles, and has scored 59 runs. The Jacksonville, Fla., native owns a .380 on-base percentage and a .477 slugging percentage. He has walked 31 times and fanned 51 times for the Wranglers. Like Gordon, Butler has no idea of what kind of timetable he is on as far as reaching the Major Leagues. He said the next step is Triple-A. That will eventually happen, but Butler isn't sure when. "I'm sure [new general manager] Dayton Moore has more important things on his mind right now," Butler said. "I can't think about that, we just have to keep working hard." Having Gordon as a teammate will help. The two complement each other in the Wranglers lineup and may soon do the same in Kansas City. "I think we push each other," Gordon said. "We're good friends and, hopefully, we can stay together for a while." Butler agreed. "The future, to me, looks bright for Kansas City, and I just want to be a part of that," Butler said.
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.