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The minor league teams went 2-1 and David Smith grabs the first star. Chip Cannon, who else, hit the first minor league home run for the Jays this season.
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Minor league coverage returns to Batter's Box with our first of many daily updates on the news from the farm. The four full-season affiliates opened their seasons last night, and went 2-2.

Also, we have a very special appearance by Skeeter Barnes.
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Today is opening day for four minor league teams.   Casey Janssen gets the start for Syracuse at home.  Ismael Ramirez repeats as opening day starter for New Hampshire in an early start.  A.J. Burnett goes for Dunedin and Chi-Hung Cheng for Lansing.

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2005 was going to be a big year for the Syracuse Chiefs. Coming into 2005 the Jays brought in several free-agents who looked like they would help the Chiefs challenge for a division title, Chad Mottola, Bryant Nelson, Jason Alfaro and Matt Whiteside were signed to complement Jays prospects like Aaron Hill, Gabe Gross, John-Ford Griffin, Guillermo Quiroz, John Hattig, Brandon League, and Francisco Rosario. However the best laid plans of mice, men and Dick Scott came to naught as the Chiefs never really got hot in 2005 and finished eleven games back of Buffalo. The Chiefs 2006 lineup will feature many returnees and more prospects, especially pitchers, and once again the Chiefs expect to contend in 2006.
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Well, 2005 wasn't as good as 2004 for our friends in Manchester. Despite moving to a new ballpark which I'm sure is much nicer than old Gill Stadium, the team did not make the playoffs as they did in 2003 (going to the finals) and in 2004 (winning the whole thing). A 68-74 finish put an end to the playoff streak.

Let's meet the key players on the 2006 team, with the assistance of Fisher Cats radio broadcaster Mike Murphy:

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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 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.