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Baseball America’s 2005 Prospect Handbook has just been published and to coincide with its publication Jim Callis, Baseball America’s Executive Editor, agreed to step into Da Box for some prospect chat. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook ranks the top 30 prospects for each major league team, 900 players in total, and is a “must-have” book for minor league fans. Subscribers to BA’s web site have been able to read scouting reports on the Blue Jays top ten prospects but you have to buy the book to read about numbers eleven through thirty.

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JP Ricciardi is on the phone from Florida. And he’s not real happy with Batter’s Box.

JP graciously stepped into Da Box right around this time last year to give us some insight into his expectations for the Blue Jays 2004. This year’s interview, intended to do the same for 2005, did not get off to a great start.

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A few days ago in Jonny German's Spring Training '05 report called "Pitcher This," Batter's Box regular jsoh wrote, "I'm desperately hoping for Spike Lundberg to make the team ... he's got a name to die for. Come on. Spike. Lundberg. Can't you just hear Murray Eldon announcing him? Tickets for the Spike Lundberg bandwagon are on sale at the door."

Sounds like it's time for the another edition of "Ask Spike," as the new Jay hurler stopped by Batter's Box for an interview and to take questions back in mid-November, and he returns now to do so again.

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John Sickels 2005 Baseball Prospect Book is now shipping. In addition to the book, some of you might be familiar with John's work from his Down on the Farm columns for The book includes scouting reports and grades for hundreds of minor leaguers including, for 2005, 36 Blue Jay prospects. Any fan interested in minor leagues and prospects should invest in a copy of John's book.

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Just for fun, I decided to create a generic "interview with an ex-Jay" article. It's inspired by Al Jaffee's old "Snappy Answers To Stupid Questions", which used to appear in MAD magazine back when I was a kid (which, let's face it, was a heck of a long time ago). Enjoy!
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Now pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays ... Spike Lundberg.

Be honest, the name sounds a little bit like one created for a character in the latest Major League movie, but instead of "Wild Thing" blaring from the stadium speakers as Ricky Vaughn trots in from the bullpen, it's the haunting notes of "That Old Black Magic" (by Spike Jones, natch) filling the stadium as the crowd roars its approval.

Could that scene be coming to a SkyDome near you as early as Summer 2005? Well, David "Spike" Lundberg, a lanky 6'1" right-hander recently signed by the Blue Jays, certainly hopes so.
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Dick Scott, the Blue Jays’ Director of Player Development, spoke to us by telephone from Florida. He was in the Sunshine State making sure the Instructional League was operating smoothly -- a challenge this year, thanks to some decidedly un-sunny weather.

When we spoke, Scott was just getting back to baseball after a three-day break caused by Hurricane Jeanne, which damaged the Jays’ Dunedin facility in addition to creating general inconveniences like power outages and flooding. Jeanne hit Dunedin harder than the other hurricanes this season.
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Jerry Howarth has been broadcasting Blue Jays baseball for over two decades, forming one of the longest-lived partnerships in baseball broadcasting history with Tom Cheek. To several generations of Blue Jays fans they are known simply as "Tom and Jerry".

In Volume 1 of our Ask Jerry series, Mr. Howarth did not shy away from expressing opinions on the current state of the Blue Jays. I caught up with him a few weeks ago and was eager to find out what he thought of some of the newcomers to the team. I presented a selection of readers' questions from our Ask Jerry, Volume 2 thread and threw in a few of my own. Some questions were not addressed this time around; we'll try to get to them for Volume 3.

Please note: since the interview took place, Jason Frasor has lost the closer role and Vinnie Chulk has struggled mightily.
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Do you ever dream of getting a job in baseball? Maybe your dream is to be the general manager of a team, or would it be to replace Tom Cheek or Mike Wilner, or more likely Rob Faulds? If you have such a dream, and you want to make it a reality, you have to start somewhere and for many you have to start where the players start, in A ball. When I was in Auburn last month I spoke with Jason Smorol, the General Manager of the Auburn Doubledays, and Adam Kaufman, the Doubledays Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations.
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When minor leaguers get the "call" up to the major leagues it can be a very emotional time. The "call" is the realization of a lifetime dream; their parents, friends and teammates are all delighted; and it is a thrill to walk into the clubhouse for the first time. But it is also a frightening time, the player might question their abilities, wonder if they really belong here, and wonder what will happen if they make a mistake or get off to a slow start. Are they here to stay, or will they be back to the minor leagues in short order? Alexis Rios appears to be here to stay, Adam Peterson went back down. I had a chance to talk with Adam when I was in Buffalo last week.
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David Laurila of recently sat down with Portland (now New Hampshire) slugger John Hattig. Originally signed by the Red Sox in 1998, the 24-year-old Hattig was acquired by Toronto in a trade last month for Terry Adams and has an on-base percentage over .400 in the Eastern League this season, with 15 home runs. A switch-hitting third baseman, he is trying to become the first native of Guam to play in the big leagues. Shortly before the trade, David caught up with John at Hadlock Field in Portland and talked about his dream of some day wearing a major league uniform... a dream that now will be happening in shades of blue rather than shades of red.

Thanks so much to David and to for allowing Batter's Box to print this interview, to let our readers get a little closer to Toronto's new prospect.

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Earlier today we have heard from John Hattig who the Blue Jays acquired for Terry Adams. Now it is time to hear from the newest Blue Jay, Eric Crozier, who the Blue Jays acquired for Josh Phelps. Ed Gonser has once again provided speedy access to our minor league players. Last week Ed brought us the initial reaction to the trade. Now he has chatted with Eric Crozier, upon his arrival in Syracuse.

Thanks Ed.
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Most of you know of Guillermo Quiroz, one of the Blue Jays top prospects, currently catching at Syracuse. Baseball America rated Quiroz as the Blue Jays third best prospect in their 2004 pre-season rankings, and the 35th best prospect in all of baseball, third among catching prospects behind Joe Mauer and Jeff Mathis. With Alex Rios now a Blue Jay, and with Dustin McGowan having Tommy John surgery, Quiroz is likely headed for the number one ranking at seasons end.
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After only four big-league games, it’s safe to say that David Bush is more than a one-hit wonder. The rookie righthander’s 1-1 record could easily be 4-0 with a little more support from his teammates. In two of his starts, the Jays’ bats have fallen completely silent, and another time, the bullpen couldn’t hold a two run lead. One of those no-decisions was a masterpiece — eight innings of one-hit shutout. Bush took a no-hitter into the eighth before Damian Miller of the A’s singled to break it up.

Toronto’s second-round pick in the 2002 amateur draft had a tremendous college career at Wake Forest. As a junior, Bush was all-conference and MVP of the ACC Tournament, leading the Demon Deacons to the championship. He was even better as a senior, and since turning pro, has impressed everyone in the Toronto organization.

Marty Pevey, his manager in Syracuse, told reporters, "I would love to have five David Bushes."
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Big news yesterday from New Hampshire as Finn McCool reported that Jamie Vermilyea is headed back to the bullpen with Brandon League replacing him in the rotation. In five AA starts for the Fisher Cats Jamie has a 3.14 ERA, and a perfect game, so why would the Jays move him back to the pen? I was in Binghamton to see New Hampshire last week and had the opportunity to ask Jamie about this and some other questions that were on my mind.
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