CHICAGO -- On Sunday, Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara, an infielder with Double-A Tennessee, will play in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Futures Game alumni Alfonso Soriano and Welington Castillo will be cheering him on, knowing just how important this event is.
Soriano was the MVP of the first Futures Game, played in 1999 at Fenway Park. He hit two home runs for the World Team, including a monster shot over the Green Monster off Mark Mulder.
Was Soriano nervous playing in the event?
"A little bit," the Cubs veteran said. "I was a little nervous because we were playing on a big league field. I said, 'One day, I'm going to play in those ballparks.'"
Castillo took part in the 2008 game, the last All-Star event held at old Yankee Stadium. His World teammates included Pablo Sandoval, Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Hector Rondon, then with the Indians and now on the Cubs staff.
Castillo said he couldn't tell who among his teammates would make the big leagues.
"Honestly, I wasn't sure I'd make it," Castillo said. "I wasn't a good catcher at that point because I was an infielder, and still learning a lot about catching. It was a good experience to be around those guys. I saw that a couple of the guys got a Major League debut in September, and I said, 'OK, I need to keep working hard because I want to make it.'
"Being in that game, it opened your eyes," he said. "I think it gave me a lot of confidence."
Edwin Jackson was on the U.S. Team for the 2003 Futures Game played at U.S. Cellular Field.
"All the names you see now, pretty much most of the people in the Futures Game find their way to the big leagues somehow," Jackson said.
Did he think he would make it?
"At the time you're just enjoying it," Jackson said. "You're talking about guys coming from Double-A, Single-A. Back then, you're 26, and you're still considered young. It's not like it is now."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.