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Strong Start

David Hall -Premium Content

Matt Wieters may be starting his pro career at high Class A Frederick, but he's already closer to Baltimore than it may seem. The Orioles' top prospect planned to share an apartment with fellow highly-regarded farmhands Brandon Erbe, Jake Arrieta and Brandon Snyder in Columbia, Md., which is closer to Double-A Bowie and the parent club than it is to the home of the Keys.

Minors | #2008#Classification Reports#High Class A

Cool Rays

Ben Badler -Premium Content

If all goes according to plan—though that rarely happens in baseball—Tampa Bay's 2004 draft could go down as one of the best drafts of the decade. The Rays used the fourth overall pick that year on Jeff Niemann, a 6-foot-9 righthander from Rice with a mid-90s fastball and a power curve. Niemann made his debut on April 13 for the Rays, allowing one run in six innings on five strikeouts and one walk. In the second round, the Rays grabbed Louisiana high school shortstop Reid Brignac, who was No. 39 on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list coming into the season.

Minors | #2008#Classification Reports#Double-A

Making The Pieces Fit

Ben Badler -Premium Content

For a farm director, putting together his organization's minor league rosters is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Once the general manager narrows the major league roster down to 25 players, each farm director has to allocate 24 players to his Triple-A team, 24 to his Double-A squad, 25 to high Class A and 25 to low Class A. It's up to the general manager and the scouting department to acquire the pieces; it's the farm director's job to put that 98-piece puzzle together. And sometimes the pieces need to be forced into spots where they don't quite seem to fit.

Minors | #2008#Prospect Pulse

Schafer Can Bounce Back From Suspension

Jim Callis -Premium Content

Uncertainty swirls around Jordan Schafer after Major League Baseball handed him a 50-game suspension on April 8 for using human growth hormone, making him easily the best prospect ever caught using performance-enhancing drugs. It also leaves plenty of questions to be answered.

Minors | #2008#Column