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College Top 25: March 12

The top three teams remain the same in Baseball America's Top 25 rankings, as both No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Vanderbilt went 4-0 last week, and No. 3 South Carolina swept its weekend series.

College | #2007#Top 25

Culture Shock For Jung

Matt Meyers -

TEMPE, Ariz.—For those who follow prospects, no player offers more mystery than the big money international free agent. Obviously the club that signs them believes in their ability or they would not give them big dollars, but we have no context to compare their previous level of competition to.The Angels gave Korean righthander Young-Il Jung a cool million last August based on the recommendation of part-time scout Charlie Kim and international scouting supervisor Clay Daniel. The size of the investment is a clear indication of the Angels belief in his ability and Jung did enough in instructional league last fall that he was rated as the Angels’ No. 4 prospect in our Prospect Handbook. Now in his first spring training, the 18-year-old is doing his best to acclimate himself to American culture. While most big money amateur free agents are from Latin America and have a number of Spanish speaking teammates to communicate with, Jung does not have that luxury. Fortunately, he has Hank Conger.

Minors | #Daily Dish

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Matt Meyers -

SURPRISE, Ariz.—Believe or not, Royals fans have hope. At least they are acting like it in Arizona. Though it is unlikely they can compete in 2007 in the vicious American League Central, the Dayton Moore regime has fans dreaming of the franchises glory years. In turn, the franchise is trying to make sure their young players are aware of those years.“One of our themes this spring is to educate our players on the history of the Royals,” farm director J.J. Picollo said. “They need to know there is a tradition here.”

Minors | #Daily Dish

More Surprises

Matt Meyers -

SURPRISE, Ariz.--Though Surprise is a pain to get to, at least you get two teams to for the price of one drive on as the Royals share the complex with the Rangers. Texas ranked No. 28 in our recent organizational rankings, but farm director Scott Servais is confident that a lot of players who seemed overmatched last year will emerge in 2007.Servais explained that the Rangers purposely tested their players with aggressive assignments at Class A, with many of them young for their levels. It showed in their records as high Class A Bakersfield and low Class A Clinton combined to go 103-176.“We had the youngest team in (low Class A) ball,” Servais said. “This year we are going to have a lot of those guys repeat those levels and put a much greater emphasis on winning.”

Minors | #Daily Dish

Derailed On His Way To Stardom

Marc Topkin -Premium Content

By now, B.J. Upton was supposed to be a star. Maybe he wasn't going to be the next Derek Jeter, as he so boasted innocently on the June 4, 2002, afternoon the Devil Rays made him the No. 2 pick in the nation. But he certainly didn't expect to be spending the spring of his fifth pro season shuffling around the back fields working at a handful of different positions, still seeking the chance to spend his first full season in the majors, and in a role similar to that of Angels' super utilityman Chone Figgins.

Majors | #2007#Season Preview

Devil Rays Should Win Title In 2010

Jim Callis -Premium Content

The Indians should win the American League Central, thanks to Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, C.C. Sabathia and Grady Sizemore. The Brewers will finally return to the playoffs, due largely in part to a young infield that includes Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy and Rickie Weeks. Not exactly shocking predictions. But I made them in this space three years ago.

Minors | #2007#Column

New Year, New Hopes For Indians

Andy Call -Premium Content

Perhaps the most viable wish for Cleveland fans is that this year's team proves to be just as unpredictable as last year's. The 2006 season certainly didn't go according to form for the Indians. The young team that had won 93 games a year earlier dropped to 78. The bullpen that had been the best in baseball a year earlier dropped to 24th in relief ERA (4.66). The team outscored its opponents by nearly 100 runs (870-782)—and scored the second-most runs in the big leagues—yet still finished six games under .500 and in fourth place in the American League Central.

Majors | #2007#Season Preview

Barry Being Barry

Matt Meyers -

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--Taking a flight from Raleigh to Phoenix in early March is a journey from one sports-obsessed culture to another. In Raleigh, all you see are hats and t-shirts representing the local college basketball teams knee deep in the ACC tournament. The Phoenix airport is cure for what ails any baseball fan; a sea of supporters that have flown in for the weekend to take in some Cactus League action.Everywhere you look is pockets of people sporting gear of the teams that train in the Phoenix area, with the Cubs, Angels and Athletics being the most prominent. There is no other sport where you find fans so enthusiastic for preseason games and it is contagious.I drove into Phoenix high on the proximity of a new baseball season and had an enjoyable day at Giants camp though one prominent player did his best to temper my Arizona enthusiasm.

Minors | #Daily Dish