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Not Just America’s Game

Will Lingo -Premium Content

The Baseball America Almanac has plenty of great features to recommend it, but one of the most underappreciated corners of it is the section that wraps up the professional baseball leagues across the world. Baseball America has long prided itself on covering baseball wherever it's played, and while space considerations have forced us to limit our coverage of international leagues in the issue, we still wrap up every significant professional league in the Almanac.

Minors | #2008#Column

Mariners Make Wise Pick

Jim Callis -Premium Content

If I ever get a few hundred million dollars together and buy a baseball team, I'll want the general manager running my team to have a keen eye for talent. I'd want to do what the Mariners just did and hire someone like Jack Zduriencik.

Minors | #2008#Column

Always Innovating

Will Lingo -Premium Content

You'd be hard-pressed to find an industry that's any better at innovating than minor league baseball. While major league franchises sometimes seem burdened by their history and tradition, minor league franchises show no hesitation to reinvent themselves when necessary.

Minors | #2008#Column

It’s Never Too Early . . .

Jim Callis -Premium Content

The vast majority of baseball fans may be getting geeked up over the playoffs, but at Baseball America, we always keep one eye on the draft, even if it's eight months away. A lot can change between now and June, but that can't deter us from offering our first mock 2009 draft.

Minors | #2008#Column

How The West Will Be Won

Jim Callis -Premium Content

Los Angeles has taken four of the last five division titles and made a mockery of the West this year. It never trailed by more than two games (and that was for one day), took first place for good on May 13 and wrapped up the West on Sept. 10. But there's good news for fans who want more suspense in their division races. No teams have added more talent than the Rangers and Athletics in the last two years, and they now have the two best farm systems in baseball. The West should be a three-team battle soon.

Minors | #2008#Column

Hard To Predict

Jim Callis -Premium Content

As with any good argument, there are two sides to the Players Association's grievance that the commissioner's office unilaterally extended the signing deadline past midnight on Aug. 15, allowing the Pirates and No. 2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez to agree on a $6 million deal.

Minors | #2008#Column

Big Moves On The Way?

Will Lingo -Premium Content

Discussion that two franchises could move from the California League to the Carolina League as soon as next season is one of the most interesting developments in the minor leagues in years.

Minors | #2008#Column

Swap Meet

Jim Callis -Premium Content

Activity at the trading deadline usually resembles the annoying cast of "The Hills." Lots of rumors, little substance. This summer was different, however. Future first-ballot Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez and Pudge Rodriguez switched teams. So did a reigning Cy Young Award winner (C.C. Sabathia), one of the most devastating switch-hitters in the game (Mark Teixeira) and a pitcher whose pure stuff matches up with anyone's (Rich Harden).

Minors | #2008#Column

Big Leaguers Galore

Jim Callis -Premium Content

After the Beijing Games, baseball will disappear from the Summer Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has made no secret that it wants the best athletes, and MLB's unwillingness to deliver big leaguers led to a surprise 2005 vote that knocked baseball out of at least the 2012 London Games.

Minors | #2008#Column

Struggling For Attention

Will Lingo -Premium Content

So maybe it's time for us to acknowledge that the American public likes B-list celebrities more than baseball's future stars. Baseball America has covered 10 Futures Games, and we're always amazed that local fans pass up the opportunity to see bona fide, soon-to-be major leaguers up close but then stream in when the stars from television shows we've never heard of take the field for a game of softball.

Minors | #2008#Column

Recession-Proof?

Will Lingo -Premium Content

Is minor league baseball recession-proof? While gloomy economic news comes from seemingly every direction these days, it's still sunshine and happiness in the minor leagues. Stuff costs more these days, and people have less money to spend, but minor league attendance continues to rise.

Minors | #2008#Column

A Decade Of Stars

Will Lingo -

To mark the 10th game in New York, let's take a quick look back at the first nine Futures Games and note the players who really stand out in our memories from each year.

Minors | #2008#Column

Swimming Upstream

Jim Callis -Premium Content

We don't get as many first-hand looks at players as the teams do, but we do spend hours upon hours talking to scouting directors, crosscheckers, area scouts and coaches, plus we have additional history (showcases, college performance, summer leagues) to go on. Our Top 200 reflects a consensus of opinion within the industry, and swimming against that tide has been dangerous.

Minors | #2008#Column