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Best Minor League Team Ever?

It has two been two full years now since that incredible 2005 Jacksonville team won the Southern League Championship. Baseball America asked at the time if that team was the best minor league team in history. I don't have the answer to that question but we can see some amazing fruit from that tree. James Loney, Russel Martin, Chad Billingsley, and Jonathan Broxton have all become fixtures for the 2008 Dodger team. Also on that team was Andy Laroche who could/should be the starting 3rd for the next 5 years. Delywn Young who at the least will be a fourth outfielder.  Tony Abreu may not make the 2008 team but if he does he will be a valuable utility player with an eye to being the starting 2nd baseman in 2009.  Other pitchers still in the Dodger organization who helped that team were Hung-Chi Kuo, Eric Stults, Eric Hull, and Greg Miller. Each of these has a shot at being with the Dodgers in 2008.

The funny thing is, Joel Guzman was the marquee player on this team headed into 2005. He was the Dodger top prospect and one of the top prospects in all of 2005 based on what he had accomplished in the same league at the age of 19. The prospect pundits were wrong about Joel Guzman and by the end of 2005 it was apparent that he had been surpassed by Martin and possibly LaRoche. Still no one figured that by 2008 he would be close to completely washing out of baseball. In just three short years Joel Guzman went from 19 year old wonder kid SS to a 22-year corner infielder that can't hit a lick. The other marquee prospect was Edwin Jackson who was expected to be in the Dodger rotation in 2005 and become a mainstay. Instead he found himself in AAA and eventually on this Sun team in AA when command issues plagued him all season. Justin Ruggiano was not a ballyhooed prospect but he did a solid job in the outfield for Jacksonville. All three of those players are now property of the Tampa Bay team. Edwin Jackson has been inconsistent but at times has shown the promise of his debut when he defeated Randy Johnson. This year he's fighting for a rotation spot before the avalanche of Tampa pitching prospects overrun him. Ruggiano is trying to make the team as an extra outfielder.

The Dodgers to their credit kept the right guys. You might hope to get one quality major leaguer out of one minor league team or even group of teams. The Dodgers have a starting 1st baseman that is just starting to scratch his potential. A catcher who some think is already the best catcher in baseball. A pitcher who could become the ace of the staff based on his performance after entering the rotation. Then a setup man waiting to become the next big Dodger closer. It is an astonishing array of talent already playing and paying Time Warner like dividends. LaRoche and Abreu are just frosting at this point.