Evan Longoria Named No. 1 in Minor League News MLN FAB50 Baseball 2007 Rankings

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Tampa Bay Devil Rays third base prospect Evan Longoria, promoted yesterday to the Triple-A Durham Bulls, was named by the editorial board of Minor League News (MLN) as the number one player in its fourth annual MLN FAB50 Baseball 2007 rankings. A talent and a movement ranking, the FAB50 takes the politics of high-dollar major league salaries and mechanics of the particular club's farm system into account along with the ability of the player, when making the final determination as to who will make the list. 50 players are named to the fast-track FAB50, while 25 in the lower levels of the farm system make the companion MLN Ones2Watch 2007. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who had the most top picks, were named the MLN Farm System of the Year 2007.

They'll tell you about the players' tools, and they'll keep selling the virtues of the player that they, or some other lists and scouts, began back when the young man was playing in high school or college.

Third baseman Evan Longoria, promoted yesterday to the Triple-A Durham Bulls in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays farm system, was named as the No. 1 prospect in minor league baseball by the editorial board of Minor League News in its annual MLN FAB50 Baseball 2007 rankings featured in the current issue of MLN Sports Zone, the only four-sport magazine dedicated to minor and independent sports news in baseball, hockey, basketball and football.

This is the fourth year of the mid-season MLN FAB50 Baseball rankings, which are breaking new ground in talent evaluations.

"Most of the lists that are put out by the other publications are beauty pageants," said MLN senior editor Brian Ross. "They'll tell you about the players' tools, and they'll keep selling the virtues of the player that they, or some other lists and scouts, began back when the young man was playing in high school or college."

The system develops favorites, but once they get to the minors, all bets are off, says Ross.

"The biggest problem with most ranking systems is that they don't deal with reality. They make a pronouncement: 'This kid is a phenom." Even after they've been chewed on by a lot of other hungry future phenoms fighting for a few open spaces on those major league rosters, or something that isn't recorded on a stats chart goes a bit awry, no one seems to want to make notice of it, because it calls their original take into question."

The FAB50 takes into account signing bonuses, blockage of depth charts by high-dollar veteran players and the farm system in which they play into consideration. The farm system itself can have a big impact on their future.

"Not all farms are created equal," reminds Ross. "A player and the system they are in don't always fit. Or a talented player ends up in a system where there is nowhere further up that they can go. Or you have a system that makes some changes in its development department that cause a disruption in the flow of players available to the club. Playing in top form through the frustration of being in an organization where you're stuck or you're not meshing well may mean the difference between a major league future and guys at the major league publications commenting on how you just didn't pan out. The FAB50 tries to represent those realities."

Minor League News also rewards great farms. The Los Angeles Angels of Anahem were named as the MLN Farm System of the Year 2007 for generating the most top talent with the greatest opportunities to be used by their parent club. Past winners have included the Los Angeles Dodgers (2006) and the Boston Red Sox (2005).

"We listen to a lot of sources, from scouts and farm directors to players, coaches, trainers and the beat guys who see these players in the minors every day. We evaluate a lot of information before we make our final selections."

MLN offers both the hardcores and the new casual fans that make up the more than 40 million strong minor league audience insight into the players that they cheer for every day, and, by way of the top-notch features on each of the 50 players and the 17" photo layouts for each athlete, it offers major league fans a great sneak peek at the stars of tomorrow as well.

Who are the fifty brightest stars in the minor league universe?

For the full feature, click here to go to the FAB50 Baseball 2007.

To see the list of the 25 hottest players readying themselves for future fast-track status, see the MLN Ones2Watch 2007.

About MLN Sports: Founded in 2000, Minor League News was the first sports publishing company dedicated to minor and independent sports exclusively. Our flagship publication MLN Sports Zone was the first true electronic magazine on sports, and the first publication to do full-length features on the largely unknown players of the minors in baseball, hockey, basketball and football.

MLN Sports Group LLC has since expanded its publications to include MLN - The Raw Feed, the first newswire of professional minor league and independent sports news in RSS, and [The MAJOR BLOGS of Minor League News, the first sports critics and columnists publication with a minor league specific focus. MLN also sponsors the Open Source Sports Directory which features biographies of players from 1900 to the present added by fans of baseball in a wikimedia format.

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BRIAN ROSS

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