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A little macabre perhaps, but it is Friday the 13th.  Brian Pettway's walk-off blast was a highlight of a 2-2 night for the farm affiliates.
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Life is bare/ gloom and mis'ry everywhere/stormy weather. David Purcey and Aaron Tressler helped beat back the despair for minor league watchers with fine pitching performances as the farm affiliates went 2-1. Purcey's fine outing was especially good news for the organization.

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Two starts, two strong appearances for Dustin McGowan.
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A 1-for-4 night by the minor league affiliates in my debut as a Minor League reporter wasn't what I had in mind.  Things didn't go so well in the upper minors but the good stuff is at the lowest rung. 

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Two wins in three contests. The Syracuse bullpen lost the game while Dunedin won in the ninth. New Hampshire flirted with disaster but Lee Gronkiewicz saved the day. Adam Lind, John-Ford Griffin, Wayne Lydon, Chip Cannon and Eric Kratz hit home runs.

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Two games and two rainouts, again. But you’ll want to read about these.

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The minor league season opened up on a chilly note, with two weather-related postponements.  The farm affiliates split the other two.
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Minor league action gets going next Thursday.   Teams were scheduled to be announced today with most teams flying out to their host cities on Monday.  We learned today that Chip Cannon and Sergio Santos will be headed to New Hampshire to start the season.  The Blue Jays also recently signed Wayne Lydon's return and released several players.  Luke Hopkins, Danny Hill and David Hicks retired.
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When spring training games start this week most eyes will be on the pitching battles.  There are at least two starting pitcher jobs up for grabs and the bullpen has three vacancies.  If we expand our view to the Syracuse Chiefs the picture gets even more cloudy, by my count there are thirty-five pitchers battling for twenty-four jobs between the Blue Jays and the Chiefs.  Most readers are familiar with the major league battles but might not be aware of the AAA ones.

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Baseball Prospectus had their top 10 Blue Jay prospects listed today - and as a bonus it's a free article so everyone can read the entire profile. Snider ranked ahead of Lind, which I can't say I'm shocked at. Goldstein seems to value ceiling above most other things.

In other cool news, somewhat minor league related, over at the Hardball Times they announced that the good people that brought us will also be bringing us I imagine this will be quite helpful when looking at college prospects around draft time.

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Baseball America has confirmed that the Jays have added an affiliate in the Gulf Coast League.
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It is the middle of winter and minor league baseball news is almost non-existent.  Baseball America and John Sickels' prospect books are a month away from my mailbox so to keep me going I thought I would look at the Jays minor league system one more time.  This time I decided to put myself in JP Ricciardi's shoes and ask myself What help is likely coming from the system in the next couple of years?  Which prospects should I count on and which ones should I discount?
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Jeff Sackmann has distilled extremely useful statistics on minor league catchers from his website, and reported them in today's THT. First off, to have this information publicly available is a real stride forward.  For Jay fans, the news on Curtis Thigpen is not great.  76.1% of prospective basestealers succeeded in 92 attempts off Thigpen.  He did however throw well in the Arizona Fall League, and earned the start in the championship game over Landon Powell who has one of the stronger arms in the minors.
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John Sickels has been posting top 20 prospect lists over at his website. The Jays top 20 prospects list is his most recent one.  His summary:
The Blue Jays In One Sentence: Toronto has two outstanding bats, but the system drops off quickly after that, as the pitchers with the best stuff lack command, and the pitchers with the best command lack stuff.
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Chip Cannon was recognized as the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 Arizona Fall League today.  Cannon dominated the top 10 offensive lists in the league, and led the Phoenix Desert Dogs to the league championship.  Congratulations to a Box favourite.
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