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Cardinals' Miller, Cox form elite duo
Former first-round picks try to prevent Yanks from repeating
04/06/2011 10:00 AM ET
Zack Cox and Shelby Miller will be Palm Beach teammates.
Zack Cox and Shelby Miller will be Palm Beach teammates. (Jordan Megenhardt, Brace Hemmelgarn)
The Tampa Yankees try to make it three straight Florida State League championships in 2011 and they'll begin the season with the man who led them to glory in 2009, former Yankees player and coach, Luis Sojo.

The Yanks also may attract some attention early on with Major League veteran Mark Prior on the roster as he continues his comeback attempt.

Palm Beach features the Cardinals' last two first-round picks in Zack Cox and Shelby Miller, the latter of whom earned organizational Pitcher of the Year honors in 2010.

Clearwater has a stacked rotation with arms like Jarred Cosart and Trevor May. The Threshers also host the FSL All-Star Game on June 18, so you can bet those Phillies prospects will be aiming to play before their home fans.

Here's a look at how each team shapes up for Opening Day:

Bradenton Marauders
MLB Parent Club: Pittsburgh Pirates
2010 record: 76-62, second-half South Division champs
2011 manager: Carlos Garcia (first season)
Outlook: Garcia, an All-Star infielder with the Pirates in 1994, begins his first managerial campaign after serving as Pittsburgh's first base coach in 2010. Switch-hitting center fielder Robbie Grossman returns after totaling 50 RBIs and 15 steals with Bradenton last year. Left-hander Nate Baker will start the season in Florida. A South Atlantic League All-Star last season, he ended the year with the Marauders. Righty Phil Irwin, a 2009 21st-round Draft pick, is expected to move up from Class A after going 6-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 23 outings last year at West Virginia.

Brevard County Manatees
MLB Parent Club: Milwaukee Brewers
2010 record: 64-75
2011 manager: Jeff Isom (first season)
Outlook: Isom, a former Minor League pitcher, moves up after spending four years at Class A. Kyle Heckathorn, a 2009 supplemental first-round pick, should return for Opening Day after going 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA in eight starts to finish the '10 season with the Manatees. Auburn product Hunter Morris is expected to play first base after collecting 44 RBIs and 32 extra-base hits in 71 games at Class A last summer. D'Vontrey Richardson, a 2009 fifth-round pick, should see time in the outfield, although he'll need to cut down on his strikeouts after fanning 164 times last season.

Charlotte Stone Crabs
MLB Parent Club: Tampa Bay Rays
2010 record: 80-59, first-half South Division champs
2011 manager: Jim Morrison (third season)
Outlook: The Crabs led the league in wins last year before falling in four games to Tampa in the Championship Series, the second straight year Morrison guided the club to the Finals. Charlotte also set a league record with 1,189 strikeouts as a pitching staff. Korean shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, one of the Cubs' prospects who came over in the Matt Garza deal, should see time with Charlotte after totaling 137 hits and 32 steals in 122 games at Class A Peoria last year. Dominican right-hander Alex Colome, the nephew of former Rays reliever Jesus Colome, should anchor the Crabs' rotation after making 22 starts at Bowling Green, where he averaged 9.32 strikeouts per nine innings to rank second in the Midwest League. He'll be joined, eventually, by lefty Kyle Lobstein, a former second-round pick who begins the season on the disabled list.

Clearwater Threshers
MLB Parent Club: Philadelphia Phillies
2010 record: 67-72
2011 manager: Dusty Wathan (second season)
Outlook: Clearwater should compete, thanks to a talented group of players that will be moving up after winning the South Atlantic League championship last summer with Lakewood. Slugging 19-year-old first baseman Jonathan Singleton enters the season ranked No. 30 among MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects. The former eighth-rounder was voted the Sally League's Most Outstanding Major League Prospect. Right-hander Brody Colvin also moves up from Lakewood and is considered one of the Phillies' top prospects. Switch-hitting outfielder Jiwan James loves to run -- he stole 33 bases last year for the BlueClaws but was caught 20 times. Threshers fans already know 6-foot-5 righty Trevor May, an FSL All-Star last year who combined for 12 wins. Jarred Cosart is another tall righty who should see time in the Threshers' rotation after appearing in the 2010 Futures Game. Reliever Jordan Ellis returns after saving 15 games last year and getting a look from the Phils in Spring Training.

Daytona Cubs
MLB Parent Club: Chicago Cubs
2010 record: 75-64
2011 manager: Buddy Bailey (third season)
Outlook: Right-hander Brett Wallach is one of the Cubs' top arms and should see time at Daytona after spending all of 2010 at Peoria. First baseman Justin Bour also moves up from Class A, where he led the Chiefs in almost every offensive category, hitting .291 with 12 homers, 87 RBIs and a .375 on-base percentage. Former first-round pick Michael Burgess has been moved back a level after appearing in 21 Double-A games last year in the Nationals organization.


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Dunedin Blue Jays
MLB Parent Club: Toronto Blue Jays
2010 record: 72-76, first-half North Division champs
2011 manager: Clayton McCullough (second season)
Outlook: The Blue Jays' rotation will feature a pair of former first-round picks in 2010 Midwest League All-Star Chad Jenkins and Deck McGuire, a 6-foot-6 right-hander out of Georgia Tech who was selected 11th overall last June. Rehabbing Jays righty Brandon Morrow is slated to start on Opening Day before rejoining Toronto. Sean Ochinko hit .311 last year at Class A Lansing and could see time both behind the plate and at third base.

Fort Myers Miracle
MLB Parent Club: Minnesota Twins
2010 record: 64-74
2011 manager: Jake Mauer (second season)
Outlook: Mauer, the older brother of Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, is back to lead a club that missed the playoffs in 2010 for first time in three years. The Miracle will feature at least two first-round picks on Opening Day -- right-hander Alex Wimmers, an Ohio State product who threw a no-hitter in 2009, and outfielder Aaron Hicks, a 2008 selection who is arguably the Twins' top prospect. Former eighth-rounder Brian Dozier, an FSL All-Star last year at shortstop, likely will see time at second. Shortstop Paul Kelly, a former second-rounder, will try to stay healthy after playing in only 21 games over the last four years due to injuries. Right-hander Dakota Watts, who hit 99 mph last year, is expected to get the closer's job. The Miracle also have new logos and uniforms in what will be the club's 20th season in Fort Myers.

Jupiter Hammerheads
MLB Parent Club: Florida Marlins
2010 record: 46-92
2011 manager: Ron Hassey (second season)
Outlook: The Hammerheads endured a pretty miserable season in 2010, but Hassey should help on the way this summer. Left-handed starter Chad James, the Marlins' 2009 first-round pick, will likely get a chance to prove himself again at "The Dean" in '11. He was 5-10 with a 5.12 ERA and a lot of walks last year at Class A Greensboro, so a rebound is in order. He's also Florida's top-ranked pitching prospect. James will work with catcher Kyle Skipworth, a 2008 first-round pick who showed good power last year (17 homers) but also struggled at times, hitting .245 with a .309 OBP and 135 strikeouts. Rob Rasmussen will start on Opening Day after being drafted in the second round last June. The lefty, who made a brief debut with Greensboro last summer, tossed six shutout innings for UCLA in the final game of the 2010 College World Series.

Lakeland Flying Tigers
MLB Parent Club: Detroit Tigers
2010 record: 71-67
2011 manager: Dave Huppert (first season)
Outlook: Huppert, with over 1,400 Minor League wins, takes over the Flying Tigers after spending a few years with the Phillies at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Daniel Fields, the Tigers' top-rated outfield prospect, is back after hitting .240 and striking out 119 times in 109 games at Lakeland last summer. Drew Smyly, a 2010 second-round pick out of the University of Arkansas, will make his Lakeland debut this spring and is considered among the organization's top 10 prospects entering his first full season. Avisail Garcia is another player to watch after batting .281 with 63 RBIs and 20 steals in 24 chances at Class A West Michigan last year.

Palm Beach Cardinals
MLB Parent Club: St. Louis Cardinals
2010 record: 75-65
2011 manager: Luis Aguayo (second season)
Outlook: The Cardinals, who share their ballpark with Jupiter, will feature a pair of top prospects on Opening Day, most notably right-hander Shelby Miller. The Houston native is MLB.com's No. 20 prospect and was a 2010 Futures Game All-Star and the Cardinals' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He went 7-5 with a 3.62 ERA and 104 strikeouts over 104 1/3 innings at Class A Quad Cities. Arkansas product Zack Cox was the Cards' first-round pick last June and appeared briefly as a third baseman in the Gulf Coast League and the Arizona Fall League, where he was named a Rising Star. The roster also features 16 members of last year's Class A squad, including All-Stars D'Marcus Ingram, an outfielder with speed, and right-hander Eric Fornataro.

St. Lucie Mets
MLB Parent Club: New York Mets
2010 record: 62-76
2011 manager: Pedro Lopez (first season)
Outlook: Lopez guided Class A Savannah to a 75-64 record last season, including a first-half division title in the South Atlantic League. The Mets should feature a trio of the organization's top prospects: 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey, former Futures Game shortstop Wilmer Flores and speedy outfielder Cesar Puello. Harvey is a big, strong right-hander, standing 6-foot-4 and possessing a mid-90s fastball that convinced the Mets to select him seventh overall out of the University of North Carolina last summer. Puello swiped 45 bases last year for the Sand Gnats and is considered the franchise's No. 4 prospect.

Tampa Yankees
MLB Parent Club: New York Yankees
2010 record: 78-57, league champions
2011 manager: Luis Sojo (fifth season)
Outlook: Sojo is back after taking a year off -- the former Yankees utilityman won four World Series with New York from 1996-2000 and led Tampa to the 2009 FSL crown. The T-Yanks managed to repeat the feat last summer without him, but can the new faces this spring make it three straight? Former sixth-round pick Brett Marshall made it to Tampa briefly last season and projects to start the year in the rotation. He may learn a thing or two from a 29-year-old righty named Mark Prior, a former National League All-Star who is attempting to rebuild his career with New York. After pitching well in Spring Training, Prior stays in Florida, although he has an opt-out clause should he get tired of Steinbrenner Field. Outfielder DeAngelo Mack led Class A Charleston with a dozen homers last year and is due for a promotion.

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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