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Ask BA

Jim Callis -

What's the scoop on pending Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome. How similar are Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez and the Royals' Alex Gordon? Size aside, how about the Yankees' Philip Hughes and the Astros' Roy Oswalt?

Minors | #2007#Ask BA

Prospect Q&A: Jair Jurrjens

David Laurila -

Jair Jurrjens can pitch in four languages. A 21-year-old righthander from Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles, he can also spot up a fastball that tops out at 97 mph. He sat down with David Laurila in spring training to talk about his career and pitching philosophy.

Minors | #2007#Prospect Q&A

Bringing Diamond Back

Matt Meyers -

TUCSON—With a big league roster teeming with homegrown position player talent, the Diamondbacks appear set pretty much everywhere on the diamond. Like most clubs, however, developing pitching has proven a bit tougher.Though their rotation possesses reigning Cy Young winner and system product Brandon Webb, they lack pitching at the minor league level that is ready to step in and contribute. With the exception of nabbing Justin Upton with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, it’s evident the organization has tried to address the shortage.

Minors | #Daily Dish

So Long, Soler

Matt Eddy -

Though he provided the club with 45 occasionally-acceptable big league innings last season--including a two-hit shutout of Arizona in June--the Mets have released burly Cuban righthander Alay Soler after three spring outings.

Minors | #Daily Dish

Los Rockies

Matt Meyers -

TUCSON—No team has increased their presence in Latin America over the last few years more than the Colorado Rockies. General manager Dan O’Dowd has given Rolando Fernandez and his international scouting department more discretion on the Latin American market, and the Rockies system is seeing the results.The Rockies are flush with young talent at the big league level, but most of their newfound depth courtesy of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela is not there yet. A visit to their minor league spring training complex makes it obvious that this influx of foreign talent is not far away.One of the fruits of the international scouting department’s labor that is generating buzz in camp is shortstop Hector Gomez.

Minors | #Daily Dish

Miller Optioned; Holdzkom Returned

Chris Kline -

Tigers lefthander Andrew Miller was among the roster cuts from major league camp yesterday, as the club optioned him to high Class A Lakeland.Detroit manager Jim Leyland told BA correspondent Jon Paul Morosi (Detroit Free Press) that Miller was "definitely not going to be on the team," but there was "a strong possibility the lefthander would join the club at some point during the season.

Minors | #Daily Dish

Non-Prospect Diary: Dirk Hayhurst

Dirk Hayhurst -

Padres righthander Dirk Hayhurst will be one of our featured diary scribes for the 2007 season. The 2003 eighth-round pick went a combined 6-14, 4.73 in 131 innings at three different levels last season—getting to Triple-A (Portland) for the first time in his career. But never mind the numbers.

Minors | #2007#Prospect Diary

Culture Shock For Jung

Matt Meyers -

TEMPE, Ariz.—For those who follow prospects, no player offers more mystery than the big money international free agent. Obviously the club that signs them believes in their ability or they would not give them big dollars, but we have no context to compare their previous level of competition to.The Angels gave Korean righthander Young-Il Jung a cool million last August based on the recommendation of part-time scout Charlie Kim and international scouting supervisor Clay Daniel. The size of the investment is a clear indication of the Angels belief in his ability and Jung did enough in instructional league last fall that he was rated as the Angels’ No. 4 prospect in our Prospect Handbook. Now in his first spring training, the 18-year-old is doing his best to acclimate himself to American culture. While most big money amateur free agents are from Latin America and have a number of Spanish speaking teammates to communicate with, Jung does not have that luxury. Fortunately, he has Hank Conger.

Minors | #Daily Dish

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Matt Meyers -

SURPRISE, Ariz.—Believe or not, Royals fans have hope. At least they are acting like it in Arizona. Though it is unlikely they can compete in 2007 in the vicious American League Central, the Dayton Moore regime has fans dreaming of the franchises glory years. In turn, the franchise is trying to make sure their young players are aware of those years.“One of our themes this spring is to educate our players on the history of the Royals,” farm director J.J. Picollo said. “They need to know there is a tradition here.”

Minors | #Daily Dish

More Surprises

Matt Meyers -

SURPRISE, Ariz.--Though Surprise is a pain to get to, at least you get two teams to for the price of one drive on as the Royals share the complex with the Rangers. Texas ranked No. 28 in our recent organizational rankings, but farm director Scott Servais is confident that a lot of players who seemed overmatched last year will emerge in 2007.Servais explained that the Rangers purposely tested their players with aggressive assignments at Class A, with many of them young for their levels. It showed in their records as high Class A Bakersfield and low Class A Clinton combined to go 103-176.“We had the youngest team in (low Class A) ball,” Servais said. “This year we are going to have a lot of those guys repeat those levels and put a much greater emphasis on winning.”

Minors | #Daily Dish

Devil Rays Should Win Title In 2010

Jim Callis -Premium Content

The Indians should win the American League Central, thanks to Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, C.C. Sabathia and Grady Sizemore. The Brewers will finally return to the playoffs, due largely in part to a young infield that includes Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy and Rickie Weeks. Not exactly shocking predictions. But I made them in this space three years ago.

Minors | #2007#Column

Barry Being Barry

Matt Meyers -

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--Taking a flight from Raleigh to Phoenix in early March is a journey from one sports-obsessed culture to another. In Raleigh, all you see are hats and t-shirts representing the local college basketball teams knee deep in the ACC tournament. The Phoenix airport is cure for what ails any baseball fan; a sea of supporters that have flown in for the weekend to take in some Cactus League action.Everywhere you look is pockets of people sporting gear of the teams that train in the Phoenix area, with the Cubs, Angels and Athletics being the most prominent. There is no other sport where you find fans so enthusiastic for preseason games and it is contagious.I drove into Phoenix high on the proximity of a new baseball season and had an enjoyable day at Giants camp though one prominent player did his best to temper my Arizona enthusiasm.

Minors | #Daily Dish