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* The Orioles have hired former Texas Rangers scouting director Ron Hopkins to serve as a cross checker on director of scouting Joe Jordan's staff. Hopkins was the Rangers' scouting director from 2003 to 2009 and spent this past season as a special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels. Before his time with the Rangers, Hopkins was a national cross checker with the Oakland Athletics for eight seasons and a special assistant to general manager Billy Beane in 2002.

The Hopkins addition has been part of a busy offseason for Jordan, who has hired five new full-time scouts and one part-time scout in Larry Chase, a former employee of the New York Mets who signed Mike Pelfrey and A.J. Burnett, among others.

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* First base prospect Joe Mahoney is "100 percent ready to go" according to director of player development John Stockstill. Mahoney, the winner of the organization's Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year award this past season, had surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee in late October. Mahoney has also been dealing with a sprained right wrist, which forced him to leave the Venezuelan Winter League after just one game. Mahoney has dealt with periodic discomfort in the wrist, but team officials don't expect it to be a problem by the start of spring training next month.

* I've been asked a couple of times about prospects Xavier Avery (OF) and L.J. Hoes (2B). The Orioles' spring training roster is not set, but I don't expect to see either player -- who are ranked third and fourth, respectively, by Baseball America among the organization's prospects -- being at big league spring training. That shouldn't come as a surprise as Avery, 21, has played only 27 games above Single-A, and Hoes, 20, only three. I'd expect both to start the season with Double-A Bowie.

* As for the rest of the top 10, pitcher Zach Britton (No. 2) will obviously be at big league spring training because he's on the 40-man roster. I'd suspect infielder Ryan Adams (No. 8) will be there, too, and perhaps pitcher Wynn Pelzer (No. 6) has a shot as well. But that would be about it among prospects.

* Jordan was deeply affected by the tragic shootings last week in Arizona that claimed the lives of six people, including 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green. Green's father, John, is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and was an amateur scout with the Orioles in the 1990s. However, before any of that, Jordan and Green were teammates at Seminole Junior College in Oklahoma in 1982. Jordan attended the funeral services for Christina this week in Tucson.

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