FAYETTEVILLE (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – For a minor league baseball player, there are few honors as prestigious as being selected to play in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. James McCann, former Razorback standout and current member of the Detroit Tigers organization, had the opportunity to suit up for the United States team in the 2013 Futures Game, played Sunday at Citi Field.
McCann entered the game in the sixth inning and caught the final four innings as the U.S. went on to a 4-2 victory over the World Team. Offensively, McCann went 0-for-1 at the plate, grounding out sharply to third base in his only at bat of the game. McCann said the experience of playing in the Futures Game is something he'll remember for the rest of his life.
"Words really can't describe what an honor it was to play in the Futures Game," McCann said. "You hear all these names of the top prospects in Minor League Baseball and to be included in the same conversation with them is a surreal experience. It was a lot of fun to be able to play with that high level of competition and on a big stage like that in New York City."
Playing in the Futures Game has traditionally been a predictor of a future career in Major League Baseball. Of the players that have been picked for the Futures Game since it started in 1999, 81.4 percent of them have made a Major League roster. In addition, past Futures Game participants have accounted for 99 MLB All-Star Game appearances, 12 Rookie of the Year awards, eight Most Valuable Player honors and six Cy Young awards. McCann said that playing in the Futures Game will give him confidence as he moves forward in the minor leagues.
"I think the biggest thing for me is it's a confidence booster," McCann said. "Being able to play at that type of level with those kinds of players around you, it shows that you belong. You see the names of other players that have played in the Futures Game and what they've gone on to do in their career and it makes you realize that you're moving up the ladder and getting closer to where you want to be."
McCann's selection to the Futures Game came after putting up impressive numbers in the first half of the season for the Erie Seawolves, the Double A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. McCann, who entered the season ranked as the Tigers' No. 12 prospect by MLB.com, is hitting .283 on the season with three home runs and 37 RBI. McCann's numbers also earned him a spot in the 2013 Eastern League All-Star Game.
"It's been a real good start to the season," McCann said. "The biggest thing is staying healthy and staying strong since it's such a long season. I've been blessed and I'm very thankful for the first half I've had. You learn a lot after playing one full season in the minors. I think that one year of experience helped me gain a lot of knowledge and experience that has gone into the success I've had this year."
McCann's success in the minor leagues came after an impressive three years at the University of Arkansas. McCann played in 169 games, including 152 starts, in his collegiate career and hit .284 with 16 home runs and 83 RBI. McCann was part of three NCAA Tournament teams in his time at Arkansas, including a 2009 trip to the College World Series. The 2011 SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year and a semifinalist for the 2011 Johnny Bench Award, McCann credited much of his success in professional baseball to his time at the UA.
"The three years that I had at Arkansas and learning from the coaching staff has played a big part in the success I've had at the professional level," McCann said. "I was able to learn lessons from them that I've used in pro ball and in everyday life. You're taught how to win and play the game the right way in that program. You're able to take those lessons you're taught at Arkansas into pro ball and that's really helped me as I've progressed in my career."