Royals own Futures Game -- Butler named MVP

Billy Butler won the 2006 Futures Game MVP Award

At the Futures Game in Detroit last year, first baseman Justin Huber collected the MVP award after slamming a key two-run double. On Sunday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, outfielder Billy Butler ensured the MVP trophy would stay in Kansas City, leading the U.S. team to an 8-5 victory by going 2-for-3 with a huge two-run homer in the second inning off Marlins' prospect Jose Garcia.


RC was at the Royals' game on Sunday afternoon, where we watched KC get kicked around by Toronto in an ugly 11-3 loss to end the season's first half. After the eighth inning, things were looking so bleak that RC Correspondent Chris Ray was thinking about climbing up the left field foul pole and jumping off, but then a voice from the sky (the Royals' PA announcer) intervened and saved Ray's life.

"Moments ago in Pittsburgh," the voice boomed, "Royals prospect Billy Butler hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the Futures Game."

Those probably weren't PA announcer's exact words, but they were followed by a video highlight of Butler's blast on the 75 percent of the Royals' Jumbotron that still works. Trailing by a run in the second inning, Butler stepped to the plate with a runner on second and worked the count full before unloading on a curve and depositing it into the PNC stands, just to the right of center field. It was a shot that showcased Butler's incredible power, as he was slightly fooled on what was actually a pretty decent pitch, but was still able to muscle it out.

The mood at Kauffman Stadium instantly changed. Ray let go of the foul pole, and the sparse crowd still on hand let out the type of cheer that is normally reserved for the daily Hot Dog race (Ketchup won, by the way). For many of the people in attendance, it was probably their first look at Butler, but it won't be too long before Butler is peppering the fountains at Kauffman with his majestic blasts.

Later in the game, Butler added a blistering single to left, and he finished the day 2-for-3 with two RBIs and the game MVP award. Of course, third baseman Alex Gordon didn't make the MVP decision easy for the folks who decide such things. Gordon had an excellent game as well, also going 2-for-3 with two RBIs, including an RBI double to left-center in the fourth inning off of Red Sox prospect Edgar Martinez. Combined, the two Royals prospects knocked in half of the U.S. team's runs (while scoring two more), and they gave baseball fans everywhere a glimpse of what the future in Kansas City might look like.

Even though the 11-3 disappointment in Kansas City ended an even more disappointing first half, the events in Pittsburgh were of greater future consequence, and they helped relieve that sick-in-the-stomach feeling that usually accompanies RC as we leave the ballpark after a loss.

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