Kelly, Tazawa headed to Futures Game

Kelly, Tazawa headed to Futures Game

As a prelude to the actual All-Star festivities, Red Sox fans who tune into the 11th annual XM All-Star Futures Game will gets glimpses of two of the organization's most compelling and talented prospects.

Casey Kelly, Boston's first-round selection from the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, has been selected to the U.S. Team as a pitcher. The true intrigue about Kelly -- aside from his athleticism -- is that the Red Sox are still in the process of deciding if he will wind up a pitcher or a shortstop.

Then there is Junichi Tazawa, the Red Sox's latest find from Japan, who will pitch for the World Team. Tazawa, who had never pitched professional baseball in Japan, caught the eye of Boston scouts who saw him dominate in Industrial League. The 23-year-old Tazawa was signed back in December and impressed the club with the quality of his stuff and his demeanor while with the Major League team during Spring Training.

The Futures Game, pitting the best Minor League prospects from the United States against the best from the rest of the World, will be held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on All-Star Sunday, July 12, at 2 p.m. ET. MLB.com will provide complete coverage before, during and after the game, which can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on Gameday.

Last year, Che-Hsuan Lin, a speedy outfield prospect for the Red Sox from Taiwan, carted home the Most Valuable Player Award in the Futures Game.

Perhaps Kelly and/or Tazawa will make a similar mark this year.

The right-handed Kelly has thrived in the Minors this season. He began the year with Greenville of the South Atlantic League, going 6-1 with a 1.12 ERA. In his first five starts with Salem of the Carolina League, Kelly went 1-2 with a 2.51 ERA.

Kelly has pitched 77 innings this season. Once he gets near 100 innings, he will switch to shortstop for the rest of the season.

Tazawa has had an impressive start to his first season of professional baseball. In 14 starts for Double-A Portland, Tazawa is 7-4 with a 2.92 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .225 against him.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.