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The Clear No. 2

Jim Callis -Premium Content

For months, this draft has shaped up as Stephen Strasburg and everyone else, with no consensus No. 2 prospect behind perhaps the best talent in the draft era. That's no longer the case. North Carolina first baseman Dustin Ackley has stepped up as the second-best prospect in this draft.

Minors | #2009#Column

Bargain Shopping Pays Off

Will Lingo -Premium Content

The good thing about the economic difficulties minor league teams are facing this season—other than looking forward to better times ahead—is that teams have unleashed a wave of innovation.

Minors | #2009#Column

Still Talent To Be Found

Jim Callis -Premium Content

The prevailing vibe is that this draft is as appealing as the swine flu, that the talent pool pretty much starts and ends with San Diego State righthander Stephen Strasburg and is bereft of position players, especially on the college side. Don't believe it.

Minors | #2009#Column

Staying Power

Will Lingo -Premium Content

With all the crazy promotions going on in the minor leagues every year, and the constant reinvention that's always going on, who would have thought that one of the minors' new mainstays would be: Bob Dylan?

Minors | #2009#Column

Hard To Profile

John Manuel -Premium Content

Dustin Ackley is making scouts happy by playing in the outfield, but there still are some reasons to be concerned about whether his arm can handle the move.

College | #2009#Column

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