WITH THE FIRST PICK IN THE DRAFT........... (by pita323)

What will the Anaheim Mighty Ducks do with the first pick in the annual amateur draft?

There have been reports that Anaheim's scouts have been spotted at Kent State, where power hitting, good fielding Jose Chantres anchors the hot corner. Eastern Oklahoma State College's slick fielding, great hitting SS Ivan Andujar has also gotten a few looks, as well as Prince Georges CC's  SP Sal Cashman, who has shown that he has great control along with 97 MPH fastball. Sal has yet to hire an agent and has his mother advising him.

Scouts are not overlooking Eunice High School, where young pitcher Douglas Slaughter, who ranked #1 in many scouting magazines, is expecting to graduate in the professional ranks with a large signing bonus. Anaheim High School scouting director Jacob Ramirez, who was scouting Slaughter, has also been seen at Longmont Christian High School, where SP Omar Gilbert and his pinpoint control pitches reign supreme. Who they will pick? Owner/GM pita323 has remained silent, not even hinting a clue whether he is leaning towards pitching or hitting. Recent history suggests they'll go with pitching, as season 10 was a strong draft for Anaheim hitting, with infielders Del Henley and Chad Schneider looking as strong Major League prospects. The prior four season seasons yielded some weak prospects: the franchise's first pick in Season 9 was not until #60., and Season 8 's first pick did not come until #50. In both seasons 6 & 7, the franchise was unable to sign their first round picks. New ownership has committed to building this organization unlike previous regimes, aggresively pursuing top signable prospects.

International Free Agents Make a Splash in a Few Budgets

A total of 24 International Players have been signed by Major League franchises this season. The Iowa City Bison, a historically minor player in the International market, and the Milwaukee Beer Swillers lead the pack in numbers of signings with three. In terms of talent, the Baltimore Blast and the Portland Rain have claimed the biggest prizes so far, by landing highly touted pitching  prospects RJ Nunez and Frank Shigetoshi.  Here is a look at the top signing bonuses and the prospects that got them:

Frank Shigetoshi, SP- Portland Rain - $22.8 million signing bonus with spring  training invite. The 19 yr old native  of  Fukuoka, Japan has been touted as the best pitching prospect  to come out of Japan. With four pitches anchored by  a wicked curveball, the young pitcher has the tools to succeed at  the ML level. The Rain invested heavily based on international scout accounts, and although  the US-based scouts are skeptical that Shigetoshi will develop into the lights-out potential superstar that was advertised, there is  no  doubt that he will be  a serviceable, reliable ML starter.

RJ Nunez, RP- Baltimore Blast - $12 million signing bonus. The 18 yr old Dominican projects to be a strong major league closer. At 18 yrs of age, he has quite a bit to learn in terms of maturity and patience, but he alredy possesses a fastball and a slider that could compete at the Major League level. Despite struggling through his first 13 appearances at the Low A level, (blowing 5 of 9 save opportunities and holding a 10.66 ERA through 12 2/3 innings), Nunez has shown steady improvement and has built some confidence.

Esteban Camacho, 1B- Iowa City Bison - $5.4 million signing bonus. The 18 yr old Cuban defector is an aggresive, impatient hitter with minimal defensive skills. He projects to have average major league hitting capabilities, with a superb ability to make contact and get on base. In 185 at bats at the Low A level, Camacho has hit .345 with an OBP of .425 and a .901 OPS.

Jim Gran, RF- Saint Louis Kamikazes - $4.5 million signing bonus, plus a 5 yr major league contract. The Kamikazes invested heavily on the 18 yr old British import from Bedford, in the United Kingdom. Gran has grand power, hitting mammooth shots from both sides of the plate during tryouts in front of the international scouts. Critics have said that Gran will excel as a power hitter, although by the time he develops at the end of his current ML contract, he may be demanding major Euros before playing  at  the ML level. 

Alfredo Cairo, SS - Charlotte Wolfpack - $4.2 million signing bonus, plus a 5 yr major league contract. Signed as a shortstop, early accounts suggest that Cairo will likely be a 2B or 3B at the ML level. Cairo has shown impressive skills and advanced development for his age and experience set, and only time will tell how far Cairo is from reaching his true potential. 

Octavio Guerrero, CF- Saint Louis Kamikazes - $4.0 million signing bonus, plus a 5 yr major league contract. Originally scouted as a 2B, Guerrero has played several positions, and mostly CF since signing with the Kamikazes. Guerrero is a balanced hitter with  great speed and good defensive skills that enable him to play almost anywhere on  the field. The 21 yr old Cuban defector from Bauta made his professional debut at the AAA level, where he has hit .407, a.509 OBp and 1.172 OPS through 31 games. There is no doubt that Guerrero is a bona fide prospect and will not be long before he makes an impact at the ML level.

Detroit: movers and shakers in the league (by soulblazer)

The Detroit Shuffle are making a serious effort one month into the new season to improve their team. They clearly are trying to get good enough to make a push for the playoffs -- either that, or get young talent for a rebuilding effort. Management is not yet decided on how good the team is, but their recent trades are designed to bring in a mix of young and old talent.

Three trades have just been aproved by the MLB's head office and the team owners. The first involved the Anaheim Mighty Ducks when vet setup pitcher Chris Cormier was aquired by Detroit in return for starting/setup pitcher Carter Martin. Another trade was with the Los Angeles Diamond Kings for young 1B/LF hitter Marty Washington and prime of his career starting pitcher Ernest Wulf and Detroit sent to LA vet 1B Robinson Dixon and young prospect LF Tony James. Detroit also helped with $3.5 mil of thier two players salery.

Perhaps the biggest of the three trades, though, was that vetern closer Julian DeRojas was shipped to Seattle in return for young SP Kyle Hocking along with $4.0 mil in cash. The 22 year old left hander was drafted in the first round in Season 7 by Detroit but was lost to Seattle in the Rule 5 draft this year, a move that angered the head coach of the team as he had big plans for Hocking. Seattle was going with young pitching in their roation this season, with three out of five of their pitchers rookies, including Hocking, who started five games for them but failed to get any wins and took one loss. After that he was moved to the bullpen for long relief. The other two rookie pitchers for Seattle were also moved out of their SP roatations and the team went looking for both SP and bullpen help, as they had blown several close games.

Detroit, by comparison, had young closers they could bring up to replace DeRojas and wanted to be free of his contract. The 33 year old right throwing vet was in the first year of a three year contracting costing $5.4 mil a year and there was concern over how good he'd be at the end of his deal. Originaly pitching for the Portland Rain, he was traded to Detroit in Season 7. During his career he had won a Cy Young, two Firemen of the Year awards, and been named to the All-Star Team six times. DeRojas has a 30-64 record with 350 out of 408 saves, a ERA of 3.92 and a WHIP of 1.37 and has never been on the DL.

Seattle announced they would make DeRojas their primary closer while Detroit planned to have Hocking as either a SP or a long relief pitcher in the bigs.

What all of this trading will do for Detroit reamains debatable, but ownership has indicated they are not done yet.