Run by Josh Norris, The Trentonian's Thunder beat writer, this blog will cover the team, as well as the Eastern League and Minor League Baseball as a whole.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Pittsburgh, meet your future
McCutchen, a 22-year-old from Fort Meade, Fla., it seems, is going a long way toward making fans it Pittsburgh joyful for the future, rather than wistful for the past.
In just 20 games in the bigs, McCutchen already is tied for the National League lead in triples, has a 14-game hitting streak, and last night notched a walk-off hit off of the Indians' Matt Herges.
Over the past decade or so the Pirates have made quite a few mistakes -- many of them spectacular -- when it comes to player personnel. McCutchen's early start certainly makes it seems as if they've begun to reverse that trend.
Madison Bumgarner LHP, SF: A fireballing left-hander, Bumgarner has again and again flashed the potential the Giants saw in 2007, when they drafted him 10th overall. His strikeouts are down this season, but his ERA is still stellar (1.88), and the opposition is batting just .221 against him between High-A San Jose and Double-A Connecticut.
Kyle Drabek RHP, PHI: Son of former Major Leaguer Doug Drabek, Kyle has done much to prove that he is more than just a famous name. After missing most of last season with Tommy John surgery, Drabek has been a buzzsaw through the competition. In 87 2/3 innings between two levels, he has fanned 91, held hitters to just a .221 average and allowed an astounding one home run.
Danny Duffy LHP, KC: This 20-year-old Royals prospect has dominated with the Wilmington Blue Rocks so far this season, especially against lefties. Duffy has lit up fellow southpaws to the tune of a 1.96 ERA. Overall, Duffy is sporting a better than 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Medchill debuts in style
Friday, June 19, 2009
Filling out my All-Star Ballot
First, the rules: I cannot vote for any member of the Thunder. That's the Eastern League's rule, not mine. There's a section at the bottom of the ballot where I can write in the two best pitchers and the three best position players on the Thunder.
Now, the results.
First base: Brandon Snyder, Bowie Baysox.
The only real competition here is Brian Dopirak of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. That said, the competition isn't really that close. Snyder has a better average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Dopirak has more home runs and RBIs, but that's partly due to Snyder missing a few games with back spasms.
Edit: Well, it appears Snyder won't be joining in the festivities at Waterfront Park on July 15. He earned a promotion to Triple-A Norfolk and played his first game there tonight. Given this turn of events, it seems the obvious choice would Ryan Strieby of the Erie Seawolves, whom I initially overlooked on my first pass. His numbers: .291/.413/.976 with 14 home runs.
Second base: Brock Bond, Connecticut Defenders.
This one's tough. There's no real standout, but there are several pretty good ballplayers. I went with Bond because his .412 OBP is fifth in the EL and second among second basemen (Reegie Corona is first, but I can't vote for him). Also, hearing Waterfront Park P.A. Announcer Bill Bromberg say "Bond...Brock Bond" wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Third base: Danny Valencia, New Britain Rock Cats.
Confession: Part of the reason I picked Valencia was my desire to see him compete in the home run derby. His stats are pretty good, too: 13 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 26 RBIs and an .825 OPS.
Shortstop: Brian Friday, Altoona Curve.
This is another case where the Thunder have the best player (Eduardo Nunez) but I am barred from voting for him. In his stead, Friday will have to do. The Curve shortstop's .810 OPS gave him the edge over Binghamton's Ruben Tejada. Just 26 strikeouts in 159 at-bats doesn't hurt, either.
Outfield: Michael Taylor, Reading Phillies; Josh Reddick, Portland Sea Dogs; Juan Portes, New Britain Rock Cats
Taylor was easily the easiest choice on this list. His all-around numbers solidified both his five-tool status and possibly his future in Philadelphia's outfield. Reddick, although injured for a good chunk of the season, has put up impressive power numbers -- including a home run every 20 at- bats -- in his limited action. Portes was a bit of an unknown to me until I looked up his numbers. His .345/.407/.907 line made him a no-brainer for me.
Catcher: Josh Thole, Binghamton Mets
This 13th-rounder has torn up the Eastern League with a .413 on-base percentage and has walked six more times than he has struck out. Those number helped him edge Akron's super prospect Carlos Santana.
Pitchers: Tim Alderson, Connecticut Defenders; Kyle Drabek, Reading Phillies; Madison Bumgarner, Connecticut Defenders; Jeanmar Gomez, Akron Aeros
We're allowed to pick four pitchers, so I chose the two Giants' superstuds, although each has cooled off slightly of late. Kyle Drabek has shown no signs of slowing down since making the jump from Clearwater to Reading. Gomez's numbers are solid if not spectacular, but I'm making the selfish choice of trying to bring the man back to the site of his perfect game, the EL's first in 66 seasons.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Is Posada's time behind the plate over?
Posada sports a MLB-worst 6.46 ERA. With Francisco Cervelli (who I am still shocked to see in the majors), the staff is pitching to a 4.45 ERA.
Cervelli has already coaxed a shutout from CC Sabathia, as well as the best start of the season from A.J. Burnett.
What do you think? Is it time for the Yanks to switch catchers?
Thursday, June 11, 2009
If you thought the Yankees loss tonight was brutal ...
The Thunder handed a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning to closer Amauri Sanit. He promptly loaded the bases and allowed a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam to Jeremy Slayden that sealed the series sweep for the R-Phils and wasted another spectacular outing by ace Zach McAllister.
Oh, and adding even more insult to the situation is the fact that it was Slayden's first at-bat of the season with Reading. Nice debut.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
It was kind of interesting, maybe only to me, to see Hughes relieviing the man whose departure allowed him to become a Yankee in the first place. That, along with a spirited discussion with a co-worker about the legitimacy of the whole supplemental picks system, got me to thinking about some other notable sandwich choices.
-- For example, when the Phillies signed Jon Lieber in 2004, the Yankees used the pick they received to obtain shortstop C.J. Henry. Henry, Phillies fans may recall, was part of the package dealt to Philadelphia for Bobby Abreu. Henry fizzled with the Phils, re-signed with the Yankees briefly before leaving to play college basketball for the University of Memphis. The Yankees, by the way, will be paying for Henry's college education. That was a condition for Henry's agreeing to his original professional contract.
-- Similarly, when Philadelphia signed Tom Gordon away from the Yankees, New York used its two choices to select Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy.
-- On the other side of that coin is the story of how the Phils were able to land Joe Blanton during last season's trade deadline.
When Billy Wagner -- a Type A free agent -- was signed by the Mets, the Phillies received two picks: New York's first-round choice and a second "sandwich" pick. The choice from the Mets was used on fireballing youngster Kyle Drabek, due to pitch later today against the Thunder. With the sandwich pick, the Phillies took second baseman Adrian Cardenas, who later would be part of the package dealt to the A's for Blanton, who was drafted by Oakland with the pick they gained when the Yankees signed Jason Giambi.
-- Another good one: Nick Swisher was selected by the A's as compensation for the loss of Johnny Damon to the Red Sox. Two men whose home fields were once separated by 3,000 miles now play separated by just a few hundred feet -- and Melky Cabrera.
-- Here's one that's kind of bittersweet: When Rafael Palmeiro signed with the Rangers in 1999 the Orioles received two picks. They chose Brian Roberts and Larry Bigbie. So, for the record, as compensation for the man whose image would become synonymous with The Steroid Era, the Orioles chose two men who wound up in the Mitchell Report.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Welcome to Draft Eve
We know Stephen Strasburg will go first to the Nationals (even though I'm sure -- just like football -- Washington will take every bit of its allotted time before announcing its pick). After that, though, everything gets a bit muddied, especially when you throw in the stress fracture to Missouri right-hander Kyle Gibson.
Also, according to Baseball America, projected number two pick Dustin Ackley have some pie-in-the-sky demands that may cause him to drop deeper into the first round.
As for the local teams: The Phillies and Mets lost their first-round picks to the Mariners and Angels when they signed Raul Ibanez and Francisco Rodriguez, but I'm sure they're both just fine with those trade offs. The Yankees still have a first-rounder, though, because they failed to sign last year's top pick, Gerrit Cole, who instead went to UCLA.
The Angels and Diamondbacks both have consecutive picks in the first round, and Los Angeles of Anaheim has five picks in the first 51, so they might go a long way to reestablishing themselves and their farm system.
Also, while visions of Strasburgs dance in your head, here are some of the best picks by numbers over the last 25 or so years of the draft.
#1 Picks: David Price, Justin Upton, Joe Mauer, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Pat Burrell, Darin Erstad, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., Darryl Strawberry
#2 Picks: Justin Verlander, B.J. Upton, Mark Prior, Josh Beckett, Tony Clark, Will Clark, Joe Carter
#3 Picks: Evan Longoria, Lou Montanez, Troy Glaus, Mike Lieberthal, Matt Williams
#4 Picks: Ryan Zimmerman, Kerry Wood, Kevin Brown, Barry Larkin
#5 Picks: Matt Wieters, Brandon Morrow, Ryan Braun, Mark Teixeira, J.D. Drew, Vernon Wells, Jack McDowell, Kent Mercker
#6 Picks: Zack Greinke, Rocco Baldelli, Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, Barry Bonds
#7 Picks: Clayton Kershaw, Troy Tulowitzki, Nick Markakis, Prince Fielder, Trot Nixon, Dan Wilson, Frank Thomas,
#8 Picks: John Van Benschoten, Felipe Lopez, Todd Helton, Todd Walker, Jim Abbott, Jay Bell
#9 Picks: Mike Pelfrey, John Danks, Jeff Francis, Barry Zito, Michael Cuddyer, Geoff Jenkins, Mark Kotsay, Kevin Appier, Ron Darling
#10 Picks: Tim Lincecum, Ian Stewart, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Pena, Jon Garland, Eric Chavez, Ben Sheets, Jaret Wright, Carl Everett, Charles Johnson, Robin Ventura, Mark McGwire, Kelly Gruber
and just for fun
#31 Picks: J.P. Howell, Aaron Heilman, Jarrod Washburn, Kirt Manwaring ... and GREG MADDUX
Wednesday, June 3, 2009