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Dillon Baird To Begin 2010 in High A

Pioneer League batting champ and Angels' 2009 11th round draft pick Dillon Baird heads to Rancho Cucamonga, skipping the A-level Midwest League, in what may be the Halos' most surprising roster decision this side of sending Rob Quinlan back to Anaheim.

Kendry Morales is the only big-name Angels' position prospect to jump Cedar Rapids in recent memory. The Halos even had polished college-product Dallas McPherson play a full season with the Kernels at the same stage in his career.

The move likely stems from lack of organizational depth at the hot corner, rather than a desire to fast-track Baird. Nevertheless, a strong start would put the University of Arizona alum in the prospect spotlight. 

Other minor league roster tid-bits...

Salt Lake's lineup is going to be scary -- Corey Alderidge and Michael Ryan join home-grown boppers Hank Conger, Mark Trumbo, and Freddy Sandoval, while Nate Sutton and Pete Bourjos set the table. 

Ryan Mount anchors a potentially punchless Arkansas line-up.  Clay Fuller, Jeremy Moore, Julio Perez, Andrew Romine, Jay Brossman and minor league FA Paul McAnulty are going to have to step up big time for that club to score many runs.

Keep an eye out for Travs' starter Ryan Brasier, who hit the mid 90's in big league camp. He's a sleeper.

Cedar Rapids looks as good as advertised, though there is no sign of intriguing 2009 draftees Jon Karcich, Travis Witherspoon, James Mallard, Jake Rife, Richard Cates or Stephen Locke.  Rolando Gomez and Terrell Alliman are also notably absent. The Kernels' roster will likely see significant turnover as the season progresses.

Minor League opening day is Thursday.