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NL West Organization Reports

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PHOENIX—Bill Murphy kept Team USA perfect in the regional qualifying event for the 2006 Olympic Games in Phoenix in mid-November, although he was perfectly miserable doing it. The 24-year-old lefthander allowed a lone run over six innings for the victory in a 5-2 decision over Canada to cap Team USA's five-game winning streak in the qualifier despite learning the night before that he had been taken off the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster prior to the winter meetings.

Majors | #2006#Arizona Diamondbacks#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—No one was surprised that it was business as usual for John Schuerholz at the winter meetings in Dallas. It also was not considered a shocker that every move made by the Atlanta general manager had a direct effect on the team's farm system. The most notable transaction came on the meetings' final day when Schuerholz sent third baseman Andy Marte to the Red Sox in exchange for veteran Edgar Renteria, who will replace the departed Rafael Furcal at shortstop. Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2000 for $600,000, Marte had lived up to the organization's initial high expectations by emerging as the Braves' top prospect.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

NL West Organization Reports

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PHOENIX—The Diamondbacks acquired Chris Young to be their center fielder of the future, but excuse Young if he has a more urgent timetable. "Honestly, my major goal is to break spring training with the big league team. It's not my decision if I go back down, of course, but I feel like I'm ready to play at the major league level. I need to prove it to the top officials," Young said from his home in Houston. "I feel like I'll be competing for the (major league center field) job. I want to show them what I have, all the aspects of my game."

Majors | #2006#Arizona Diamondbacks#Organization Reports

NL Central Organization Reports

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CHICAGO—The Cubs traded for speedy Juan Pierre, picked up free agent Jacque Jones and were trying to trade for shortstop Miguel Tejada. But the Cubs made another move that few fans paid attention to but could be just as important for the organization when they hired Tim Wilken as their director of amateur and professional scouting. He replaces John Stockstill, who moved on to become an assistant general manager with Baltimore.

Majors | #2006#Chicago Cubs#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—The Braves entered 2006 pleased with their progress in retooling the everyday lineup, yet realized an opening might remain on pitching coach Roger McDowell's staff. That scenario is fine with Chuck James, who is not lacking any confidence when it comes to believing he can fill a void. I'm ready to get there," said James, who is coming off a 2005 campaign in which he tied for the organization lead with 13 wins. "I think I got a pretty good chance to make the team. I want to get there and keep things rolling. The two weeks I was up there last season, it was unreal."

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

BA Dream Draft

Will Lingo -

Whom would you draft if you could take any major league player and start your own team? Baseball America's staff took a stab at building a roster in our Dream Draft.

Majors | #2006#Dream Draft

NL West Organization Reports

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PHOENIX—At 20 years and three months, Edgar Gonzalez was the second-youngest pitcher to win a major league game in 2003. Although Gonzalez has not won a big league game in the two years since, new general manager Josh Byrnes appears committed to building through youth, and the Diamondbacks still envision Gonzalez as a contributing member of their future rotation.

Majors | #2006#Arizona Diamondbacks#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—It was easy to deem the Braves' December deal that shipped catcher Johnny Estrada to the Diamondbacks as insignificant. After all, part of the strategy involved creating an opening for Brian McCann to handle the starting chores behind the plate. Yet with every appearance Oscar Villarreal has made this winter in Mexico, the Braves have grown more confident that the offseason trade will play a significant role in upgrading the Atlanta bullpen. The righthander, who the Braves acquired from Arizona along with righthander Lance Cormier, helped Hermosillo advance to the second round of the winter playoffs versus Guasave. In three postseason outings, Villarreal earned a save while allowing only one hit in three shutout innings.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

NL Central Organization Reports

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CHICAGO—Last year, the Cubs traded Sammy Sosa to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston plus minor league infielder Mike Fontenot and minor league righthander David Crouthers. The minor leaguers didn't pan out so well, as Crouthers retired after spring training and Fontenot played in just seven major league games in 2005 and is no longer on the 40-man roster.

Majors | #2006#Chicago Cubs#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—It was easy to deem the Braves' December deal that shipped catcher Johnny Estrada to the Diamondbacks as insignificant. After all, part of the strategy involved creating an opening for Brian McCann to handle the starting chores behind the plate. Yet with every appearance Oscar Villarreal has made this winter in Mexico, the Braves have grown more confident that the offseason trade will play a significant role in upgrading the Atlanta bullpen. The righthander, who the Braves acquired from Arizona along with righthander Lance Cormier, helped Hermosillo advance to the second round of the winter playoffs versus Guasave. In three postseason outings, Villarreal earned a save while allowing only one hit in three shutout innings.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

NL West Organization Reports

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PHOENIX—Cesar Nicolas missed time during extended contract negotiations following the 2004 draft, and missed six weeks in 2005 after being hit by a pitch, but he appears determined to make up for all of that. Refusing to rest after a strong season at low Class A South Bend, a driven Nicolas spent part of his winter getting extra work at the Diamondbacks' academy in the Dominican Republic, a place usually reserved for players trying to get off the island, not come back.

Majors | #2006#Arizona Diamondbacks#Organization Reports

NL Central Organization Reports

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CHICAGO—Every spring training, Cubs manager Dusty Baker saves a few spots on the roster for what he calls "that surprise player" who raises his game—and a few eyebrows—and earns a big league job. Angel Pagan is one of many invited to camp who hopes to be that surprise player. The Cubs purchased his contract from the Mets, and even though the 24-year-old has yet to play in a major league game, Chicago placed him on the 40-man roster.

Majors | #2006#Chicago Cubs#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—Mention the name Owings in baseball circles throughout Georgia and the first name that will come to mind is Micah. That's understandable, as the former two-way standout challenged the national high school career home run record in Gainesville prior to earning recognition in college for his abilities on the mound and at the plate for three years at Georgia Tech. He then transferred to Tulane for his senior season and is now considered one of the top prospects in the Diamondbacks organization.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

NL West Organization Reports

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PHOENIX—Lefthander Kellen Raab appears to be developing into the kind of diamond in the rough that the Diamondbacks pride themselves on acquiring in the later stages of the draft. Top pitching prospect Dustin Nippert was a 15th-round choice in 2002, and the 6-foot-6 Raab was not taken until the 25th round in 2003 out of Wisconisn-Parkside when the persistence of area scout Mike Daughtry allowed Arizona to land him. In his first full season in 2005, Raabe went 7-6, 4.44 for low Class A South Bend.

Majors | #2006#Arizona Diamondbacks#Organization Reports