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No Guarantee

Jim Callis -Premium Content

Patrick Schuster's four straight no-hitters brought him within two of the national high school record, and brought him a national television audience via ESPNEWS. But that doesn't necessarily guarantee him pro success, as a study of past high school pitching stars shows.

Minors | #2009#Column

Bye-Bye Boom

Will Lingo -Premium Content

The minor leagues will welcome seven new ballparks this season, which would seem to be the continuation of a 25-year trend that has resulted in more than 120 new baseball stadiums across this great land of ours. In reality, though, this is what people who follow the stock market refer to as a "dead cat bounce," where a decline is followed by a temporary recovery, but the long-term downward trend remains in place.

Minors | #2009#Column

Looking Into The Crystal Ball

Jim Callis -Premium Content

Four years ago, the Rays were coming off a 70-91 season that represented the best performance in the franchise's dismal seven-year history. Who could have predicted that Tampa Bay would rocket into respectability in 2008? Me, that's who.

Minors | #2009#Column

Big Disagreement

Jim Callis -Premium Content

Stephen Strasburg entered the year as the hands-down No. 1 prospect for the 2009 draft, so there was no way for him to improve his stock. Though he can't go any higher in the draft, scouts are more bullish on him than ever. But not everyone is so bullish on Strasburg.

Minors | #2009#Column

Getting Creative

Will Lingo -Premium Content

It's Major League Preview time, and there's at least one way the majors are going to be a lot like the minors this year: Teams will go to great lengths to try to sell tickets. The St. Louis Cardinals were the latest team to announce significant discounts as they put single-game tickets on sale for the 2009 season, though they're far from alone in doing so.

Minors | #2009#Column

Heading South

Will Lingo -Premium Content

All the plans are not in place, but it seems likely now that the Connecticut Defenders will eventually make their way south to Richmond. Richmond has been on the lookout for a franchise since losing its International League franchise (the Richmond Braves) to Gwinnett County in suburban Atlanta. The Braves-owned team had been in Richmond since 1966, but deteriorating conditions at The Diamond and the lack of a new ballpark on the horizon finally prompted the Braves to move their Triple-A affiliate.

Minors | #2009#Column

Changes Are Coming

Will Lingo -Premium Content

It seems to be a pretty quiet year for alterations to the minor league landscape, especially given that we just went through an affiliation shuffle. But we do have several franchise moves to keep an eye on, as well as new ballparks.

Minors | #2009#Column

What Could Have Been

Jim Callis -Premium Content

If baseball were like football, requiring players to spend three years in college before turning pro, the college All-American would have a dramatically different look.

Minors | #2009#Column

The 32nd Team

Jim Callis -

Starting in 2003, it has been an annual tradition to present what we like to call The 31st Team, a collection of all the scouting reports that are written for but don't quite make it into the Prospect Handbook. This year, as a premium for those who bought the Handbook directly from us, we included a No. 31 prospect to accompany the Top 30 lists we put together for every team. But we still have more bonus material to offer. There are 17 extra reports that didn't make it into the Handbook or the premium, so we present the first edition of . . . The 32nd Team.

Minors | #2009#Column

Storm Clouds On The Horizon

Will Lingo -Premium Content

In spite of the Las Vegas locale, the mood at this year's Winter Meetings was not one of celebration. And as 2009 gets under way, minor league baseball (and the entire baseball industry, for that matter), is looking ahead with a wary eye.

Minors | #2009#Column