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Phils Move Could Start Scramble

Will Lingo -Premium Content

The instability surrounding the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, which we've written about several times in the past couple of years, looks like it will finally cost the club its most valuable asset after the 2006 season: the affiliation with the Phillies.

Minors | #2006#Column

Minor League Markets In Short Supply

Will Lingo -Premium Content

The name of the game for minor league owners these days is revenue, especially those who have entered the business in the last decade and have laid out millions of dollars for their franchises. That's why the trend of recent years has been to leave behind smaller cities—and even those larger cities that aren't willing to build new ballparks—for greener pastures, sweeter ballpark deals and bigger crowds. The scarcity of viable markets has become evident in the last year or two, though, raising questions about when the attendance boom might level off. It sure hasn't stopped yet, with overall minor league attendance breaking the all-time record in each of the last two years.

Minors | #2006#Column

There’s Nothing Like The Winter Meetings

Will Lingo -Premium Content

The Winter Meetings are a great event for anyone who enjoys baseball, what with most of the significant decision-makers in the game gathering in one place. Walking through the hotel lobby, you never know who you might run into. But the meetings are particularly enjoyable for us in the BA world because it's a chance for us to shine and see the industry on so many different levels.

Minors | #2005#Column

BA’s Work Heats Up During Offseason

Will Lingo -Premium Content

Among the games most people care about—those in the major and minor leagues in North America—you have game action for seven months out of the year. What in the heck do we do for those other five months? We crank out even more baseball information than we do the rest of the year.

Minors | #2005#Column

Ripken Machine Picks Up Steam

Will Lingo -Premium Content

Nothing Cal Ripken Jr. does off the baseball field will ever reach the stature of what he accomplished on the field, but his off-field endeavors have been much more than a retirement hobby. Ripken Baseball is the company Ripken put together after his retirement, and he has surrounded himself with capable people. Now Ripken Baseball is growing into a significant force in minor league and youth baseball, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Minors | #2005#Column

Indy Movement Harkens Back To Crazy Early Days

Will Lingo -Premium Content

Is it any wonder that so many minor league executives find independent baseball more fun than the affiliated minor leagues? Over the last couple of months, we've watched and waited—and waited and waited—as Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball try to figure out if they're going to make changes to their player-development and scouting system. Meanwhile in independent baseball, a couple of weeks ago everything was quietly moving ahead toward next season. Then the new United League suddenly started grabbing franchises away from the established Central League in Texas. And then the real indy story broke. Three longtime members of the Northern League, including the flagship St. Paul Saints franchise, announced they were leaving, for destinations unknown. Now that's what I call action.

Minors | #2005#Column

Minor League Stats Take Leap Forward

Will Lingo -Premium Content

We've been to the source and have seen the way stats were collected this season. And we were impressed. For those of you who haven't followed the minor league stat soap opera day by day, we had our third official statistician in three years this season. After Howe Sportsdata (now Sportsticker) had the contract for years, Minor League Baseball awarded it to the Sports Network for the 2004 season.

Minors | #2005#Column

Changes Should Spur Creative Ideas

Will Lingo -Premium Content

The player-development changes being pushed through by Major League Baseball have stimulated hours of discussion and debate in the halls of Baseball America. Imagine the possibilities. A scouting combine? A revamped short-season schedule? Instructional league for every team? It will change the way we cover the game, and the way you follow it. The inevitable questions we come to, though, are: Are these changes going to do what they're designed to do? Are there more ideas or different ideas that could do more? And in the end, are teams going to go for it?

Minors | #2005#Column

Major Shakeup In Minors Looks Likely

Will Lingo -Premium Content

Since we first heard rumors about possible changes to the draft and the structure of the short-season level of the minor leagues, Baseball America reporters have called more than 20 people who work in the game, from agents to general managers to scouting and farm directors to minor league presidents to Major League Baseball officials. So while a lot of details remain unclear, one thing seems unmistakable—changes are afoot.

Minors | #2005#Column

Eleven Suspended For Steroids

Kevin Goldstein -

Major League Baseball announced 11 more minor leaguers from four organizations have been suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances, headlined by three players with major league experience, a highly-regarded White Sox prospect, and a former Japanese League player. All 11 are first-time offenders and received 15 game suspensions.

Minors | #2005#Prospect Bulletin

Rickey Henderson Signs Indy League Contract

Kirk Kenney -

SAN DIEGO—The San Diego Surf Dawgs begin spring training Monday in Arizona as they prepare for the inaugural season of the Golden Baseball League. Manager Terry Kennedy has 32 players in camp competing for 24 spots on the independent team's roster, but Kennedy already has found a good candidate to bat leadoff: Rickey Henderson.

Minors | #2005#Independent Audit

Indians’ McDonald Suspended For Steroids

John Manuel -

Eight years ago, Darnell McDonald was considered a can't-miss prospect. Now, he's a footnote in baseball's steroid spring. McDonald, a 1997 first-round pick who has played 17 games in the major leagues, was suspended 15 games for violating baseball's minor league drug prevention and treatment program. Because he's not on a 40-man roster, he was subject to the minor league testing policy (and thus a longer suspension as a first-time offender), even though he has big league experience.

Minors | #2005#Prospect Bulletin

Allison Returns To Mound

Chris Kline and Matt Meyers -

GREENSBORO, N.C.—Marlins righthander Jeff Allison took the mound for the first time competitively in nearly two years Thursday night for low Class A Greensboro, and while the first inning was understandably shaky, it didn't rattle the 20-year-old—or stop him from consistently pounding the zone.

Minors | #2005#Prospect Bulletin

Indy League Notebook

J.J. Cooper -

The Golden League had planned its inaugural season to include a sprinkling of Japanese players on the rosters of its eight teams. When the league's Tijuana franchise collapsed four months before the season's first pitch, however, the league came up with an idea inspired by necessity.

Minors | #2005#Independent Audit

Indy League Notebook

J.J. Cooper -

When it comes to wacky promotions—the kind that generate plenty of publicity, raise eyebrows and ultimately bring fans through the gates—the independent leagues have always been willing to push the envelope.

Minors | #2005#Independent Audit