I'm working off the assumption that the info on the minorleaguebaseball.com site is up to date. If that is the case, then many of the minor league assignments were very cautious, with not too many players being assigned higher than they finished last year. Noticeably absent from any of these rosters is Van Pope, who will likely end up in his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. Also unassigned as far as I can discern is Jo-Jo Reyes, who might end up back at Myrtle Beach. Many of our young pitching, like Rodgers, Locke, and Evarts, are also still unassigned and will probably remain so until the short-season leagues begin. Here is a rundown of the levels assigned so far.
Richmond (AAA) ...... link to roster
This is going to be a very good team, at least on paper. The bullpen is going to consist of Peter Moylan, Blaine Boyer, Joey Devine, Will Startup, Manny Acosta, Phil Stockman, and several other great arms. The rotation will likely be Kyle Davies, Anthony Lerew, Kevin Barry, Jonathan Johnson, and Buddy Carlyle.
Young outfielder Josh Burrus is back in triple-A after a year in the lower levels, and troubled outfielder Matt Esquivel got a promotion to Richmond after not being above double-A before this year. Speedster Gregor Blanco is also back at Richmond.
Mississippi (AA) ...... link to roster
The assignments here consist of a number of repeats. Matt Harrison will take his 3.61 ERA last year in double-A back to Mississippi. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Yunel Escobar, and Brandon Jones are all back at double-A. I had thought that both Harrison and Escobar might have made it on to the Richmond roster, but this is another sign that the organization is not rushing anyone. My pick to have a breakout year, Barbaro Canizares, is also back at double-A. Brent Lillibridge also earns a spot on the Mississippi roster after finishing last year at the high-A level in the Pirates organization. It will be interesting to watch just how much assigning two top shortstops to this level will work. Unless one of them will be moved to another position...humm.
Myrtle Beach (A+) ...... link to roster
The biggest surprise for me here is Kala Ka'aihue. I had thought that he was advanced enough to make the double-A roster, but here again the organization is taking a slower approach. Eric Campbell and Elvis Andrus move up a level and will once again make up a stellar middle infield duo.
There are two pitchers here who might not stay for long; Kevin Gunderson and Lee Hyde are former college relievers who could get advanced by the middle of the season. There are also some other talented starting arms at Myrtle. Jake Stevens is back for his third go around in high-A. Jairo Cuevas gets the promotion from Rome to Myrtle and will hopefully build on his les then impressive 2006.
Rome (A-) ...... link to roster
Rome should have a great young roster. The pitching will consist of Beau Jones, Jeff Lyman, Jamie Richmond, Tommy Hanson, and Tim Gustafson. The hitting stars will consist of catcher Phillip Britton (a candidate to break out), Josh Morris, Larry Williams, Chase Fontaine, and Jon Mark Owings - all of whom could make up the best roster Rome has ever had. They may not have the star-power names like Elvis or Francoeur, but this group could be really good and fun to watch.