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Speedy Ascent

Derrick Goold -Premium Content

Sam Freeman thought the kind of speed that could take him places in baseball would be limited to the basepaths. Then he realized how swiftly he could throw the baseball. Coming out of Cardinals' instructional camp this fall, Freeman had caught the eye of several club officials for how quickly he acclimated to a role in short supply around their system: lefthanded pitching. He was 4-1, 3.70 at Rookie-level Johnson City and finished his first pro season with two scoreless innings at high Class A Palm Beach and a stint in the Florida State League playoffs. Taken in the 32nd round of the June draft, Freeman then went to instructs and really showed promise.

Majors | #2008#Organization Reports#St. Louis Cardinals

Talking About Pitching

Jim Salisbury -Premium Content

There's more to pitching than winding up and firing, and the younger a pitcher learns that the better. That was the goal of an exercise run by Gorman Heimueller during the Phillies' Florida instructional league. Heimueller, the Phillies' minor league pitching coordinator, believes instruction should not be limited to the physical during instructional league. He believes the mental side of the craft is just as important in a young pitcher's development.

Majors | #2008#Organization Reports#Philadelphia Phillies

Long-Time Coming

John Perrotto -Premium Content

Luis Cruz was little more than an agate line in the transactions column last winter when the Pirates signed him as a minor league free agent. However, the infielder made headlines in the Pirates farm system and showed enough in his first taste of the major leagues during a September callup that he has a decent chance of making the Opening Day roster next year.

Majors | #2008#Organization Reports#Pittsburgh Pirates

Geer-ing Up For A Shot

John Maffei -Premium Content

Opportunity is there, and Josh Geer is ready to knock the door down. A third-round draft pick out of Rice in 2005, Geer got a five-start tryout with the Padres late this season. And the 25-year-old righthander made a good impression, going 2-1, 2.67 over 27 innings with nine walks and 16 strikeouts. A postseason medical exam showed Geer had some elbow ligament fraying, which could require surgery. If he's cleared to just rest and rehab, though, he'll enter spring training with plenty of momentum.

Majors | #2008#Organization Reports#San Diego Padres

Heck Of A Job

Brian McTaggart -Premium Content

Bobby Heck had such an impact during his first year with the Astros that general manager Ed Wade decided to reward the scouting director with a new title. Heck, who joined the Astros last October, was promoted to assistant general manager in charge of scouting. He joins Ricky Bennett and David Gottfried, who had their contracts extended, as assistant GMs.

Majors | #2008#Houston Astros#Organization Reports

Back To Form

Lacy Lusk -Premium Content

Mike Hinckley began the year unsure of his future and ended it by pitching if not like a No. 1 prospect, at least like a first option as a lefthanded reliever. The 26-year-old from Oklahoma City put up a 0.00 ERA in his first 14 big league innings and likely will head to spring training expected to fill a valuable role with the Nationals.

Majors | #2008#Organization Reports#Washington Nationals

Easy Decision

Brian McTaggart -Premium Content

The Astros didn't have to think twice when faced with a decision to either place lefthander Polin Trinidad on the 40-man roster or risk losing him to another team. Coming off a breakout season that included a trip to the Futures Game, the lefthander was added to the roster after the season and will make his first trip to major league camp in spring training.

Majors | #2008#Houston Astros#Organization Reports

Returning To Form

Alan Eskew -Premium Content

Righthander Matt Kniginyzky has bounced between the prospect list to the injury list since being selected in the 23rd round of the 2005 draft. A stellar full-season debut in 2006 was sabotaged by an injury-plagued 2007 in which he made just five starts. The 26-year-old rebounded in 2008 with high Class A Wilmington, going 9-8, 3.57 with 113 strikeouts and 51 walks in 141 innings.

Majors | #2008#Kansas City Royals#Organization Reports