Tosoni parlays late nod into MVP honors
Twins prospect knocks in game-winner on pinch-hit in seventh
ST. LOUIS -- In a matter of minutes on Sunday, Rene Tosoni changed the acronym after his name in the XM Radio Futures Game box score from DNP to MVP.
The Twins' outfield prospect, a Canadian, sat and waited through a four-hour-plus rain delay and six full innings of the shortened seven-inning game. But when his time finally came to show what he can do, Tosoni doubled to right field to drive in Alcides Escobar for the go-ahead run in the World Team's 7-5 win over the United States. The pinch-hitting appearance turned Tosoni's Did Not Play into a Most Valuable Player."It was well worth the wait," Tosoni said. "I didn't even think I was going to get in. Because we were down two runs and were running out of time, if we didn't tie it up, I wouldn't have gotten in at all. Luckily, we tied it up, a righty came in, and I got a chance." The Tosoni family certainly was grateful. The Tosonis live in British Columbia and had to drive 20 minutes to Roo's Bar & Grill that opened up just for them so they could watch the Futures Game. They only had to wait close to seven hours to watch the heroics. "They had been there for so long, they probably won't even remember what happened," Tosoni joked. Tosoni and the World Team won't likely forget any time soon. The World had been clinging to a 3-2 lead for much of the game, but when U.S. catcher Jason Castro hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning, it looked like the United States was on its way to victory and Castro would take home the Larry Doby MVP trophy. But the World team wouldn't quit and it was a fellow Canadian who kicked things off to allow for Tosoni's eventual game-winner in the top of the seventh. Brett Lawrie, who played for the Canadian Olympic and World Baseball Classic teams, doubled and scored. Escobar's single and an error allowed the tying run to score and for Escobar to move into scoring position. Then Ozzie Smith came out of the dugout to take out left-hander Trevor Reckling and bring in Pirates right-handed prospect Brad Lincoln. That set things in motion for Tosoni, a left-handed hitter, to step in for the right-handed Alex Liddi. "I went down in the tunnel and took a few swings," Tosoni said. "I knew I wasn't going to go in the field [right away] and that I'd be hitting, so that's what I was focusing on." He didn't wait too long to get his hacks in against Lincoln. After taking a fastball for a strike, Tosoni managed to hit the next pitch, a 94-mph fastball, past first baseman Chris Carter to bring home Escobar. Tosoni would later come around to score to give the World a two-run cushion. For his efforts, the 23-year-old who's spent all season in the Double-A Eastern League not only got the MVP trophy, he also got a face full of shaving cream during postgame interviews. "Right before I was going on the radio, I got ambushed by some teammates," Tosoni said, clearly not upset by the attack. "I got shaving-creamed. It happens." All frivolity aside, there was no question all 50 players in the 11th edition of the Futures Game were taking this "exhibition" very seriously. Even with the long delay, all these top prospects kept their focus for all seven hours because they knew what was at stake: a lead in the all-time Futures series. "Probably right from the beginning," said Tosoni about when the World squad started thinking that winning was important. "We were told in the morning that this was tied 5-5. We wanted to make it go up by one and now it's 6-5 for the World."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.