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Familiar Assignment

Andy Call -Premium Content

Outfielder Ben Francisco may have been the best player the Indians saw all spring. Yet, there he was, starting the season at Triple-A Buffalo for the fourth consecutive year. When the Indians added him to their 40-man roster over the winter, it gave the organization the opportunity to keep him around a while longer, just in case.

Majors | #2008#Cleveland Indians#Organization Reports

Max Effort

Jack Magruder -Premium Content

Righthander Max Scherzer made an immediate impact in his first major league spring training camp. Scherzer hit 96 mph on the radar gun in the Diamondbacks' exhibition game against the White Sox, his first time against major league hitters, and he topped out at 97 mph in his second appearance.

Majors | #2008#Arizona Diamondbacks#Organization Reports

Bruce On The Brink

John Fay -Premium Content

Jay Bruce sounded a bit like Terminator in the wake of getting re-assigned to the minor league camp. "I'll be back," Bruce said. "When I am, I'll look back on this day and laugh." It wasn't easy to laugh about it when Bruce was sent down a week and a half before camp broke. Bruce is the No. 1 rated prospect in all of baseball. Failure is a rare thing for him.

Majors | #2008#Cincinnati Reds#Organization Reports

Placed In The Pen

Jack Etkin -Premium Content

The beginning of spring training brought a big change to Ryan Mattheus. After spending his first four seasons as a starter, Mattheus learned he was moving to the bullpen. Mattheus is a sinker slider righthander coming off a 9-11, 5.56 season at Double-A Tulsa where he averaged 5.8 strikeouts, 3.1 walks and 10.3 hits per nine innings. Those numbers were the norm for Mattheus, who has moved up one level at a time in the Rockies system but in just over 470 professional innings has averaged 6.7 strikeouts, 3.6 walks and 10.5 hits per nine innings.

Majors | #2008#Colorado Rockies#Organization Reports

Smoker’s No Joker

Lacy Lusk -Premium Content

At age 19, lefthander Josh Smoker has a long way to go before taking a permanent spot in a big league clubhouse. This spring, though, he received a temporary taste. The contract signed by the 2007 supplemental first-round pick stipulated that he receive an invite to major league camp this spring. He even got to pitch at Space Coast Stadium, striking out three in two shutout innings in a 15-0 victory against Georgetown University.

Majors | #2008#Organization Reports#Washington Nationals

Australian Idol

Bill Shaikin -Premium Content

If kids in Southern California aspire to be Vladimir Guerrero or Kobe Bryant, kids in Australia aspire to be Ian Thorpe or Ricky Ponting. Thorpe recently retired as one of the best swimmers in history; Ponting is the captain of the national cricket team. Rich Thompson grew up in Sydney, playing every sport he could before deciding baseball offered him the brightest future. He signed with the Angels for $50,000 in 2002, and six years later he has a fastball registering in the mid-90s and a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Majors | #2008#Los Angeles Angels#Organization Reports

Catching On Quickly

Alex Speier -Premium Content

The Red Sox hoped they had found their catcher of the future in the 2005 draft. That still may prove to be the case, but not in the way they originally expected. Boston took Jon Egan in the second round, but he struggled with injuries throughout his short professional career and retired in March. But Mark Wagner, plucked out of UC Irvine in the ninth round, has shown an advanced all-around game in his early pro career.

Majors | #2008#Boston Red Sox#Organization Reports

Vitters Has Tendinitis

Jim Shonerd -

The Cubs announced yesterday that top prospect Josh Vitters has been returned to extended spring training due to a left hand injury, which the Peoria Journal Star reports is tendinitis. […]

Minors | #Daily Dish

Three Strikes: May 5

Aaron Fitt -

Strike One: Resurgence In The Bayou Heading into the 2008 season, Paul Mainieri talked cautiously but optimistically about how nice it would be to end the Alex Box Stadium era […]

College | #Three Strikes

Nats’ Zimmermann Promoted To AA

Ben Badler -

The Nationals promoted righthander Jordan Zimmermann, a 2007 second-round pick out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, from high Class A Potomac to Double-A Harrisburg today. Zimmermann made quick work of Carolina League […]

Minors | #Daily Dish