Tigers prospect Steven Moya of the World team is forced out by U.S. pitcher Daniel Norris during the second inning of the Futures Game on Sunday night. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)
Minneapolis — Jake Thompson admitted that his third strike on fellow Tigers prospect Steven Moya wasn’t in the zone, but he still has bragging rights until they meet again.
In the top of the sixth inning of Sunday evening’s All-Star Futures Game at Target Field, the Tigers’ two representatives faced each other for the first time, and Thompson struck out Moya on three pitches — fastball, changeup, slider.
“I thought the slider may have been a little bit out of the zone, but I’ll take it,” said Thompson, a 20-year-old righty who earned the win for the U.S. team.
Moya, a 22-year-old lefty slugger who played left field for the World team, agreed the called third strike was wrong.
“It wasn’t a strike,” he said. “I can’t do anything about it. I just had to walk out. … I just looked at Jake like, ‘Are you serious?’”
Thompson, who’s playing for High-A Lakeland, entered with two outs in the sixth and didn’t realize he was pitching to Moya, currently with Double-A Erie, until he finished his warm-up pitches. Before the game, Thompson said he hoped to avoid pitching against the 6-foot-6 power hitter.
“It’s not that you don’t want to face him,” Thompson said. “It’s just if he puts a good swing on it and hits it, he’s probably going to hit it 480 feet. It’s just the intimidation factor behind it.”
Moya went 0-for-3 in the game with a walk and two strikeouts. He nearly made a spectacular catch near the stands in foul territory, but the ball hit either a fan or the wall before he caught it.
Thompson earned the win after U.S. teammate Joey Gallo, a Rangers prospect, hit a 419-foot, two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to make it the final 3-2 score. He also started the seventh inning, but was pulled after striking out Astros prospect Domingo Santana.
Moya said Thompson looked like a better, more aggressive pitcher than he remembered, but still hopes for vengeance for the strikeout on the national stage.
“I’ll get him in spring training,” Moya said. “I’m going to show him.”