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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

NL Central Organization Reports

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CHICAGO—Scott Moore has yet to play a game above the Class A level after four seasons in the minors. But the Cubs are so impressed with the Long Beach native's potential that they were afraid to lose him in December's Rule 5 draft and placed him on the 40-man roster. The reasons are pretty simple.

Majors | #2006#Chicago Cubs#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ATLANTA—The Braves already have Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and they hope they found another version of him Down Under. Matt Kennelly, who recently helped guide Western Australia to the under-18 Australian championship in Geelong, showed considerable natural ability in his first stint behind the plate during instructional league and drew favorable comparisons to the Braves' top prospect.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

NL West Organization Reports

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TUCSON—As if Stephen Drew and Justin Upton were not enough. The Diamondbacks further fortified their middle-infield depth with their first trade of the spring, adding second baseman/shortstop Alberto Callaspo for 2001 first-round pick Jason Bulger, each team dealing from a perceived position of strength. Callaspo had been caught in a numbers game with the Angels, who also have elite infield prospects Erick Aybar, Brandon Wood and Howie Kendrick in their system.

Majors | #2006#Arizona Diamondbacks#Organization Reports

NL Central Organization Reports

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MESA, Ariz.—There was a time when Randy Wells was hoping to catch guys like Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano at the major league level. But when he arrived at Fitch Park for his first major league camp as a non-roster player this year, he wasn't catching anyone. He was doing his drills with the pitchers.

Majors | #2006#Chicago Cubs#Organization Reports

NL East Organization Reports

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ORLANDO—Of all the players who tested positive for banned substances and were suspended last season, no one was more forthcoming than James Jurries. The first baseman did not plead ignorance, question the test's validity or point fingers in other directions. Instead, Jurries showed his character by admitting his mistake and accepting his punishment. That reaction did not go unnoticed by the Braves front office.

Majors | #2006#Atlanta Braves#Organization Reports

AL West Organization Reports

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TEMPE, Ariz.—You won't find too many 19-year-olds with a grand total of two Rookie-level games on their professional resumes in big league camp, but in Nick Adenhart the Angels feel they have a special case. Adenhart, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound righthander, was projected as a first-round pick in 2004 until an elbow injury ended his senior season at Williamsport (Md.) High that May. Though they knew he would need Tommy John surgery, the Angels chose Adenhart in the 14th round and gave him second-round bonus money: $700,000.

Majors | #2006#Los Angeles Angels#Organization Reports

AL West Organization Reports

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LOS ANGELES—The signing of righthander Jeff Weaver not only rounded out what should be a strong big league rotation for the Angels, but it also reduced any pressure on his younger brother Jered to try to make the big league team out of spring training. General manager Bill Stoneman rated it as an outside chance for Jered to make the big league squad even before the team signed Jeff. Now Jered, the 12th overall pick in the 2004 draft, can just relax and soak in the lessons from his first spring training.

Majors | #2006#Los Angeles Angels#Organization Reports

AL West Organization Reports

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LOS ANGELES—If Nick Gorneault's career path were to continue on its current trajectory, the 26-year-old outfielder would hit about .300 with 30 home runs and 120 RBIs for the Angels this season. Of course, the chances of that are as remote as Bengie Molina leading the league in stolen bases. Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson are entrenched at the corner outfield spots in Anaheim, and the Angels made a two-year, $3.275 million commitment to Juan Rivera, a reserve outfielder and the team's primary DH, virtually assuring Gorneault a ticket back to Triple-A Salt Lake this spring.

Majors | #2006#Los Angeles Angels#Organization Reports

AL West Organization Reports

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ANAHEIM—After the Angels won the World Series in 2002, they went shopping for a reserve outfielder. Eric Owens signed up happily, hoping for the chance to participate in the playoffs for the first time. Owens started the year slowly. By the time he started hitting the Angels had long vanished from contention, and they finished 19 games out of first place. The team released Owens after the season, and he never played another game in the major leagues.

Majors | #2006#Los Angeles Angels#Organization Reports

AL West Organization Reports

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ANAHEIM—In the years before Arte Moreno, Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon, Angels general manager Bill Stoneman made a name for himself by assembling quality bullpens on the cheap. The Angels paid longtime closer Troy Percival handsomely, but Stoneman shuddered at seven-figure salaries for set-up men and plugged in an assortment of minor league free agents, waiver claims or promotions from within. Within the past two years, however, the Angels have lost five promising relievers on waivers. Righthanders Bobby Jenks and Derrick Turnbow emerged as closers, Jenks for the White Sox and Turnbow for the Brewers.

Majors | #2006#Los Angeles Angels#Organization Reports

AL West Organization Reports

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Life's pace ambles by a tick slower in Tifton, Ga., as compared to the fast pace of Atlanta, three hours north. And patience has long been a virtue of Tifton native Nick Green. The 21-year-old righthander spent two years in junior college, another half-season in Rookie ball and the first six weeks of his 2005 season in extended spring training. In mid May he was summoned to pitch out the bullpen at low Class A Cedar Rapids, and by August had pitched his way into the starting rotation, where he next helped pitch the Kernals into the playoffs.

Majors | #2006#Los Angeles Angels#Organization Reports

AL Central Organization Reports

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TUCSON—In terms of his long suffering, Lance Broadway heads the line of the nouveau riche White Sox. As far as he knows, it's all good. Broadway, an All-America righthander from Texas Christian, was the White Sox' first-round pick last June. The big league team was in first place when he accepted Chicago's $1.57 million bonus to sign, then rolled on to win the World Series.

Majors | #2006#Chicago White Sox#Organization Reports

AL Central Organization Reports

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CHICAGO—While the White Sox brought in five more experienced candidates to compete for Damaso Marte's spot as lefthanded reliever, they would love for one of their three homegrown candidates—Arnie Munoz, Paulino Reynoso and Corwin Malone—to make it a tough decision. All eight of those job seekers will be watching Ray Liotta over their shoulders. While Neal Cotts was one of the American League's best relievers last season, Marte gave the Sox four solid seasons before being traded to Pittsburgh for utilityman Rob Mackowiak. That trade created a vacancy for a second lefty in the bullpen, which will be the most open competition in White Sox camp.

Majors | #2006#Chicago White Sox#Organization Reports

AL Central Organization Reports

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CHICAGO—Anderson Gomes is the White Sox' international man of mystery. With the chance to nab Javier Vazquez, the defending World Series champions reluctantly shipped Chris Young, a 22-year-old center fielder with 30/30 potential, to the Diamondbacks. The Sox hope they have replaced Young's potential with a little-noticed signing, plucking Gomes, a native of Brazil, from the Japanese minor leagues for about the cost of a third-round draft pick.

Majors | #2006#Chicago White Sox#Organization Reports