J.J. Cooper

Business Beat: Oct. 31

J.J. Cooper -Premium Content

Artificial turf, once the miracle cure for stadiums across the country, is quickly heading toward extinction at the minor league level. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons (International) have already gone forward with plans to roll up their carpet and replace it with grass for the 2007 season. The Wichita Wranglers (Texas), who play on a turf infield and a grass outfield, will leave for Springdale, Ark., before the 2008 season. And now the Syracuse SkyChiefs (International) are looking to replace their turf with grass as well.

Minors | #2006#Business Beat

2006 Independent Leagues Top Prospects

J.J. Cooper -

Readers of Baseball America know we are always looking to uncover prospects, wherever we can find them. So, naturally, we've extended that search to the independent leagues. The following is a list of players who stood out for their potential to make it to—or back to—affiliated ball, with the potential to raise some eyebrows if they get the chance. The opinions of independent league managers helped shape this effort.

Minors | #2006#Independent Audit

Florida State League Top 20 Prospects List

J.J. Cooper -

The high Class A Florida State League always has been a nightmare for hitters. Spacious major league spring-training parks turn home runs into long outs, several of the stadiums have prevailing winds that blow in, and the heat and humidity sap hitters' bat speed as the long season rolls along. But hitters this year had extra reason to feel they were being picked on. Because the league has some of the best April weather in the minors, teams stocked their FSL affiliates with a slew of the best pitching prospects in baseball.

Minors | #2006#League Top 20 Prospects#Rankings

Florida State League Top 20 Prospects

J.J. Cooper -Premium Content

The high Class A Florida State League always has been a nightmare for hitters. Spacious major league spring-training parks turn home runs into long outs, several of the stadiums have prevailing winds that blow in, and the heat and humidity sap hitters' bat speed as the long season rolls along. But hitters this year had extra reason to feel they were being picked on. Because the league has some of the best April weather in the minors, teams stocked their FSL affiliates with a slew of the best pitching prospects in baseball.

Minors | #2006#League Top 20 Prospects#Rankings

Business Beat: Sept. 15

J.J. Cooper -Premium Content

Don't mistake the quiet to mean that nothing is going on. The end of the minor league season meant that many affiliation agreements between major and minor league teams have officially come to an end. Player-development contracts—the official name of the documents that bind a major league and minor league team together—run in two-year increments, so this is the year when unhappy couples can look for greener pastures.

Minors | #2006#Business Beat

Independent Audit: Sept. 7

J.J. Cooper -Premium Content

Independent league managers don't have much of a rooting interest in whether Monterrey or Saltillo wins the crown, but they have an intense interest in finding out which teams have been knocked out. When a Mexican League team's season is over, its players are free to sign with a U.S. club for the rest of the year. And for independent league teams in pennant races, an early August pickup could be the difference between making the playoffs and sitting home.

Minors | #2006#Independent Audit