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The Dunedin Blue Jays are Toronto’s affiliate in the High-A Florida State League. They kick off their 2006 season on Thursday the same way they closed out the 2005 regular season; with a game against the Clearwater Threshers.
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It's that time of year again. The big-leaguers are ready to play for keeps, and the young prospects are itching to strut their stuff. The Batters Box minor league reporters are ready too. We welcome Pistol and Thomas Ayers to our team. We begin our coverage with previews of the 2006 seasons for each of the full-season affiliates-Lansing, Dunedin, New Hampshire and Syracuse.

This is Lansing's 2nd season as a Jay affiliate in the low A Midwest League. 2005 had its share of highlights for Lugnut fans, with the stellar pitching of Casey Janssen and the hot hitting of Chip Cannon perhaps tops among them. What can we look for in 2006? The official Lansing roster was released yesterday. Let's take a closer look.
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The Sky Chiefs improved to 11-1 on the spring yesterday, as they defeated Columbus 6-2. Chip Cannon blasted 2 homers, and John Hattig had 3 hits.

Watch for our minor league season previews coming soon.
Yesterday was the first day for minor league spring training games. The minor league regular season is just three weeks or, to be precise, 21 days away. Yesterday the Jays fortified the minor league ranks by returning eight players to minor league camp. To give us our minor league fix I have put together a description of the one thing, and only one thing, that each of the Blue Jays top 30 prospects needs to do in 2006 to move up the prospect charts.
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Today the Boston Red Sox returned Jamie Vermilyea to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox selected him in the Rule V draft, but he was competed for a job in a deep bullpen. Furthermore, with the Red Sox being a contender he needed to heavily impress them to make the team. He only had one appearance in Spring Training, where he didn't allow a run over two innings, but evidently he didn't show them enough in practice to make the team.
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John Sickels has been posting his 'Top 20' prospect lists for each team over at his website. He finished up the final teams this weekend so I decided it'd be interesting to try to quantify his rankings.
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There are many different ways to rank the strength of the thirty minor league farm systems. Some pundits look at depth, others at how close the players are to the major leagues. Baseball America's Jim Callis looks at star potential and he doesn't see much of it in the Blue Jay system. As a result Baseball America has ranked the Jays as the 25th best, or if you prefer the 6th worst, minor league system in baseball.
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Baseball America released their top ten prospects on-line today. The list was available to magazine subscribers a week ago. The top ten are, in order, Dustin McGowan; Ricky Romero; David Purcey; Adam Lind; Josh Banks; Casey Janssen; Brandon League; Franciso Rosario; Curtis Thigpen; and Vince Perkins.
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In the Troy Glaus trade the Blue Jays also received Sergio Santos from the Diamondbacks. Where does he fit into the Blue Jay prospects?
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John Sickels provides insight on the minors through his fine minorleagueball.com website. Today, he turns his attention to how the pre-season Jay top 20 prospects fared in 2005.

For comparison, here is what the BB minor league crew had to say about Jay prospects 10-1, 20-11, and 30-21. It is important to bear in mind that John Sickels is reviewing the pre-season top 20 whereas the BB crew was deciding on a post-season top 30; the comparative rankings are less interesting than our respective comments.
The Arizona Fall League regular season ended yesterday and the Peoria Saguaros, home team for the six Blue Jay players, did not make it to the one game playoff. It was a tough season for the Saguaros as their record of 8-23 indicates. I was in Phoenix last weekend and I spoke with the Jays players, their manager ex-Jay Eddy Rodriguez, and several scouts.
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...since Phoenix or Tucson. So, how are the Jay farmhands in Arizona doing, you ask? They started off slower than a coyote in the morning, but they're moving now.
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Today the full list of minor league six year free agents was released. These players have been granted free agency as they are not on the Jays 40 man roster. The full list of the 19 Blue Jays is here....
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After successful stints in Dunedin and New Hampshire, Mike Basso was named manager of the Syracuse Sky Chiefs yesterday. Basso replaces Marty Pevey, who is now the Jays' first base coach. We look forward to seeing Basso and the Chiefs in person in 2006.

The AFL season started last night. The team the Jays contribute to, the Peoria Saguaros, were an opening night bust. The Saguaros fell to Surprise 14-2, as Michael Bourn drove in 4 runs. Steve Andrade, Bubbie Buzachero, Guillermo Quiroz, Ryan Roberts and Adam Lind are with the Saguaros.