2019 MLB Futures Game: New NL vs. AL Format, Start Time And 7 Innings Among Changes

Under the administration of commissioner Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball has made sweeping changes to its All-Star week. Most notably, MLB took away the controversial choice to have the All-Star Game determine home-field advantage in the World Series.

It also tweaked the format of the game itself, permanently enforcing designated hitters in both lineups and alternating home field between the National League and American League each year regardless of the home stadium. A new fan voting system also made its debut this year.

The Home Run Derby also underwent a recent overhaul, with a bracket format pitting NL vs. AL replacing a pool play style.

Now, MLB has announced major changes to another All-Star event: the annual Futures Game. The showcase of top minor league prospects will change from its longtime “Team U.S. vs. Team World” format of pitting American prospects against International ones.

Instead, prospects will be divided up by whether their big league club is part of the NL or AL.

The Futures Game is also no longer a nine-inning matinee before the annual Celebrity Softball Game. It returns to a seven-inning format for the first time since the inaugural futures game in 1999 and begin at 4 p.m. PT on Sunday, July 7 — after the celebrity game.

Additionally, the new Futures Game will have celebrities from that week’s All-Star host team as managers and high-profile coaching staffs on both sides. In this case, both managers were former All-Stars with the Cleveland Indians.

Jim Thome, the Hall of Fame slugger who spent part of the 2009 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, will manage the NL team. His coaching staff includes longtime Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel as bench coach and another former Phillie and Dodger, Nick Punto, as first base coach.

Thome spent the first 12 seasons of his career in Cleveland, where he became a superstar.

AL manager Dennis Martinez, who helped the Indians to the 1995 World Series, also has a Dodgers connection. He threw the 13th perfect game in MLB history at Dodger Stadium in 1991 while he was a member of the Montreal Expos.

His coaching staff includes former Indians and San Francisco Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel as third base coach as well as former New York Mets and Chicago White Sox manager Jerry Manuel as bench coach.

The Futures Game will be televised on MLB Network. Dodgers prospects Gavin Lux and Dustin May are participating in the showcase.