WASHINGTON — Luis Basabe came right out and said it.
“I got traded for Chris Sale, too, man.”
No, it wasn’t just second baseman Yoan Moncada and pitcher Michael Kopech whom the White Sox got back in the 2016 deal of staff ace Sale to Boston. The Red Sox also gave up pitcher Victor Diaz and outfielder Basabe, who started in center and batted leadoff for the World team in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Nationals Park, won 10-6 by the U.S.
Basabe, a 21-year-old Venezuelan, was the Sox’ minor-league co-player of the month in April and was promoted to Class AA Birmingham in June.
“Moncada and Kopech are great players, but I’ve got a chance to get to the big leagues, too,” he said. “I know I’m good.”
He made a serious splash, going down to get a 102 mph fastball from Reds hotshot prospect Hunter Greene and launching it into the bleachers in right-center.
Greene, one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the sport at only 18, was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school senior. He was one of several mega-prospects in the Futures Game, among them Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis (ranked No. 3 in baseball by MLB Pipeline), Rockies infielder Brendan Rodgers (No. 6), Blue Jays infielder Bo Bichette (No. 7) and Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller (No. 12).
Overshadowed heading in were the Sox’ representatives, Basabe and right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease. Basabe is rated the 13th-best prospect in the Sox organization. Cease ranks fourth in the organization and 40th in baseball.
Cease — the ninth of 10 U.S. pitchers to appear in the game — faced two batters in the ninth inning and retired both.
Cease, too, knows what it’s like to be a relative afterthought in a massive trade. Although he was the Cubs’ second-ranked prospect when he was packaged with top-ranked prospect Eloy Jimenez in the 2017 deal that sent veteran pitcher Jose Quintana to the North Side, all the hype since then has been about Jimenez. The slugger is the No. 2-ranked player in baseball and is at Class AAA Charlotte with Kopech, the No. 10-ranked prospect in baseball.
“Eloy Jimenez is such a good player that that’s nothing necessarily against me,” he said. “It just happens to be the way it is. Basabe, Kopech and Moncada are obviously studs, too. You’ve just got to be grateful for the opportunity that you have. That doesn’t upset me by any means.”
Cease, 22, has had a tremendous season, going 10-2 with a 2.95 ERA, all but one of his starts coming at Class A Winston-Salem before a promotion to Birmingham.
“There’s been a lot of great progress this year,” he said. “I came into the year not that confident with throwing my changeup and my off-speed stuff for strikes,” he said. “I feel like I can throw everything where I need to, for the most part.”
Thirty-two players on the 2018 AL and NL All-Star rosters are alumni of the Futures Game. The list includes Javy Baez of the Cubs, who were represented this year by Class A South Bend catcher Miguel Amaya (World). He went 0-for-3.
Kopech pitched a scoreless inning and struck out Moncada in the 2017 Futures Game. Jimenez started that game while still in the Cubs organization, four days before he was traded.
Moncada and Jimenez also played in the game in 2016, with Moncada homering and earning MVP honors. The Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber was the game’s MVP in 2015. The Sox’ Matt Davidson won MVP honors in 2013 while a member of the Diamondbacks organization.
And now Basabe has made his mark, too. From here, the next major move is, well, what else?
“Get to the big leagues as soon as possible.”