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Baseball's Around the Corner

Winter arrived in New York after all, but pitchers and catchers is just around the corner. In the meantime, here are some news and notes:

  • If you want tickets to the Mets' home opener on April 9th, the team is letting fans register for a drawing that will be held on Monday, February 19th. The same goes for Subway Series tickets against the Yankees from May 18th to May 20th.
  • Newsday provides a look at Omar Minaya's trip to Ghana, where he's accompanied by the likes of Dave Winfield, Dusty Baker, and Reggie Smith. Here's a taste:
    But yesterday, some of the major leagues' biggest names saw some promising talent.

    "The kids are much further along than we thought," said Winfield, a former Yankees outfielder and now the vice president of the San Diego Padres.

    "Everybody doesn't play soccer or American football. This is another option to stay healthy and learn about life," he said, adding that baseball will help Ghanaian children gain American college scholarships.

    Obviously any serious talent is going to require at least ten years to emerge, but it's interesting to see Major League Baseball opening up new markets.

  • Finally, Ken Rosenthal looks for the next Justin Verlander. He mostly focuses on the Yankees' Philip Hughes and the Reds' Homer Bailey. While both certainly can match up to Verlander's stuff, neither has Verlander's experience. All three were drafted in the first round of 2004, but Verlander had been pitching for Old Dominion for three years. While Hughes and Bailey are the best pitching prospects around, it might be unfair to predict Verlander-like success for them in 2007.

    Rosenthal does give Mike Pelfrey a mention, though:

    A better comparison to Verlander -- at least in terms of experience -- is Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey, a collegian who was the ninth pick of the '05 draft. Pelfrey, 23, is entering his second pro season, just as Verlander was a year ago. But while Pelfrey is a top prospect, he isn't as highly regarded as Hughes and Bailey.

    Pelfrey, despite his lack of a secondary pitch, still put up some huge numbers in the minors. Like Hughes and Bailey, though, he'll start the year in AAA, but if he makes some progress with his slider, he could start being mentioned in the same breath.