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Breaking The Ice

Larry Millson -Premium Content

David Purcey's major league debut came rather suddenly and unexpectedly. The lefthander, the organization's first-round draft pick in 2004 (16th overall) from Oklahoma, was called up from Triple-A Syracuse, where he was 2-0, 1.89 in three starts, for a spot start against the Tigers. He was starting in place of A.J. Burnett, who was forced into duty to pitch the 14th inning in a loss to the Rangers two days earlier.

Majors | #2008#Organization Reports#Toronto Blue Jays

Prospect At A Discount

Alan Eskew -Premium Content

Mike Aviles was part of the Royals' infamous senior draft class of 2003. In a cost-cutting move, the Royals drafted five college seniors in rounds five through nine and signed them to $1,000 bonuses. Aviles, a seventh-round pick out of NCAA Division II Concordia (N.Y.) College, could turn that into a very prudent investment.

Majors | #2008#Kansas City Royals#Organization Reports

Who’s At Third?

Tony Jackson -Premium Content

Blake DeWitt had no idea when he arrived in spring training that he would wind up getting promoted to big league camp a few days in. But then, Dodgers officials had no idea that both Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche, the two guys they had planned on watching compete for the everyday third-base job, would both be injured in the same game on March 7.

Majors | #2008#Los Angeles Dodgers#Organization Reports

Familiar Assignment

Andy Call -Premium Content

Outfielder Ben Francisco may have been the best player the Indians saw all spring. Yet, there he was, starting the season at Triple-A Buffalo for the fourth consecutive year. When the Indians added him to their 40-man roster over the winter, it gave the organization the opportunity to keep him around a while longer, just in case.

Majors | #2008#Cleveland Indians#Organization Reports

Max Effort

Jack Magruder -Premium Content

Righthander Max Scherzer made an immediate impact in his first major league spring training camp. Scherzer hit 96 mph on the radar gun in the Diamondbacks' exhibition game against the White Sox, his first time against major league hitters, and he topped out at 97 mph in his second appearance.

Majors | #2008#Arizona Diamondbacks#Organization Reports

Bruce On The Brink

John Fay -Premium Content

Jay Bruce sounded a bit like Terminator in the wake of getting re-assigned to the minor league camp. "I'll be back," Bruce said. "When I am, I'll look back on this day and laugh." It wasn't easy to laugh about it when Bruce was sent down a week and a half before camp broke. Bruce is the No. 1 rated prospect in all of baseball. Failure is a rare thing for him.

Majors | #2008#Cincinnati Reds#Organization Reports

Placed In The Pen

Jack Etkin -Premium Content

The beginning of spring training brought a big change to Ryan Mattheus. After spending his first four seasons as a starter, Mattheus learned he was moving to the bullpen. Mattheus is a sinker slider righthander coming off a 9-11, 5.56 season at Double-A Tulsa where he averaged 5.8 strikeouts, 3.1 walks and 10.3 hits per nine innings. Those numbers were the norm for Mattheus, who has moved up one level at a time in the Rockies system but in just over 470 professional innings has averaged 6.7 strikeouts, 3.6 walks and 10.5 hits per nine innings.

Majors | #2008#Colorado Rockies#Organization Reports

Smoker’s No Joker

Lacy Lusk -Premium Content

At age 19, lefthander Josh Smoker has a long way to go before taking a permanent spot in a big league clubhouse. This spring, though, he received a temporary taste. The contract signed by the 2007 supplemental first-round pick stipulated that he receive an invite to major league camp this spring. He even got to pitch at Space Coast Stadium, striking out three in two shutout innings in a 15-0 victory against Georgetown University.

Majors | #2008#Organization Reports#Washington Nationals

Australian Idol

Bill Shaikin -Premium Content

If kids in Southern California aspire to be Vladimir Guerrero or Kobe Bryant, kids in Australia aspire to be Ian Thorpe or Ricky Ponting. Thorpe recently retired as one of the best swimmers in history; Ponting is the captain of the national cricket team. Rich Thompson grew up in Sydney, playing every sport he could before deciding baseball offered him the brightest future. He signed with the Angels for $50,000 in 2002, and six years later he has a fastball registering in the mid-90s and a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Majors | #2008#Los Angeles Angels#Organization Reports

Catching On Quickly

Alex Speier -Premium Content

The Red Sox hoped they had found their catcher of the future in the 2005 draft. That still may prove to be the case, but not in the way they originally expected. Boston took Jon Egan in the second round, but he struggled with injuries throughout his short professional career and retired in March. But Mark Wagner, plucked out of UC Irvine in the ninth round, has shown an advanced all-around game in his early pro career.

Majors | #2008#Boston Red Sox#Organization Reports

Sliver Of Hope

Roch Kubatko -Premium Content

Once the Orioles begin interleague play in National League ballparks, where the designated hitter is not used, 29-year-old infielder Oscar Salazar finally could return to the majors. It's been a while. Salazar appeared in eight games with the Tigers in 2002, batting .190 in 21 at-bats. Injuries kept him down the next few years, but he's on the rise again.

Majors | #2008#Baltimore Orioles#Organization Reports