Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A guess at the Thunder's opening day roster ... just 99 days from now

Because I've been off for the last couple of days, I've had some time to kick around what I believe the 2010 Thunder 24-man roster will look like come April 8 at Waterfront Park.

Here's a rough guess:

C - Austin Romine (This one's a definite)
C - Kyle Anson (I expect he will repeat because of poor perforamance and space issues at S/WB)
1B - Kevin Smith (liked what I saw from him once the weather got warmer in Trenton)
1B - Jorge Vazquez (not terribly sure of this, but he could definitely stand to work on defense)
2B - Matt Cusick (Loved his ability to make solid contact nearly every time up)
SS - Walter Ibarra (He's been with Trenton before and seems to need to move up)
3B - Brandon Laird (Vechionacci is a free agent, and Laird tore it up in the AFL)
OF - Austin Krum (nice little leadoff hitter who goes all out)
OF - Daniel Brewer (speedster who spent half the year with Tampa last season)
OF - Jack Rye (made a very brief cameo in Trenton in 2009)
OF - James Cooper (injured for spell in 2009, wouldn't be surprised to see him back)

SP - Jeremy Bleich (got lit up in 2009, will almost certainly return)
SP - Lance Pendleton (same deal as Bleich, but without getting hit as hard)
SP - Charlie Zink (spent all of 2009 in Tampa, could be time for a promotion)
SP - D.J. Mitchell (2008 draftee from Clemson has moved quickly)
SP - Hector Noesi (after an add to the 40-man, it's time he tasted the upper levels)
RP - Jonathan Hovis (with Trenton briefly in 2009, could return)
RP - Tim Norton (UConn product who's been delayed by injuries)
RP - Pat Venditte (The switch pitcher, you may have heard of him)
RP - Adam Olbrychowski (Was with Thunder for season's final series)
RP - Noel Castillo (horrific with Trenton in 2009, but still may be back)
RP - Phil Bartleski (also with Trenton during final 09 series)
RP - Jonathan Ortiz (could wind up being Thunder closer)
RP - Craig Heyer (made six spot starts for Tampa, could be 2010 Josh Schmidt)

Edit: After I posted this, Chad Jennings of the Journal News posted some notes pertaining to Trenton given to him by Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman. I also had an email in to Mr. Newman asking him about some items pertaining to the Thunder.

Here are some of the highlights from Jennings' talk with Newman

- Newman names Bleich as a pitcher who could shoot through the system a la an Ian Kennedy or Joba Chamberlain. Considering he was tabbed for a 6.65 ERA in Trenton, that's an interesting choice.

- Wilkin De La Rosa is scheduled to repeat Double-A this season.

- Noesi will "probably" begin 2010 with Trenton

- Christian Garcia, the oft-injured righty with positively electric stuff will be in the Thunder rotation, too.

Read all of Jennings' info from Newman here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Franklin will be back, Montero won't

I wrote this story for The Trentonian a couple of days ago, but if you missed it: Tony Franklin and the rest of his staff -- plus a new strength and conditioning coach will be back in Trenton for 2010.

That seems to mean two things:

1. The Yankees like the way Franklin and his staff develop players, especially pitchers.

2. Franklin probably couldn't find a different, higher-profile job elsewhere.


Additionally, LoHud's Chad Jennings spoke with the Yankees' Vice President of Baseball Operations, Mark Newman, who said uber-prospect Jesus Montero will start the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Not terribly stunning news, but it's a shame that Thunder fans got to see such a short stint of Montero.

They will, however, get to see Austin Romine behind the dish next season. That ain't too shabby, either.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baseball America's Top Ten Yankees Prospects

Baseball America released its list of the top ten Yankees prospects today, and they are:

1. Jesus Montero C
2. Austin Romine C
3. Arodys Vizcaino RHP
4. Slade Heathcott OF
5. Zach McAllister RHP
6. Manny Banuelos LHP
7. Gary Sanchez C
8. J.R. Murphy C
9. Jeremy Bleich LHP
10. Andrew Brackman RHP

Friday, December 11, 2009

Behind the Texeira selection

After yesterday's selection in the Rule 5 Draft, reliever Kanekoa Texeira is headed to Seattle with a chance to make the big league roster out of spring training. Truth be told, though, I thought Texeira would be Mariners property months ago.

Here's why:

On July 30, Texeira entered during the final two innings of the second game of the Thunder's doubleheader with the Harrisburg Senators. It was raining hard that night, and most of the people who started the night in the stands had long since departed.

One of the few who remained at the game did so with a visible sense of purpose -- and a radar gun. He was a scout from the Mariners, and he watched Texeira intently from first pitch to last.

At the time, the Yankees were negotiating with the Mariners to bring starter Jarrod Washburn to New York. After leaving that game, I thought for sure that Texeira would be packing his bags shortly and heading south to join the Mariners' Double-A affiliate in West Tennessee, or across the country to Tacoma and Triple-A.

The negotiations obviously didn't blossom, but to me the implications were clear: Seattle liked what the saw. Now, five months after that game, they have their man.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Breaking down the Granderson deal

After a little bit of negotiating, the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Tigers pulled off a three-team trade yesterday that accomplished the following:

Yankees get:
Curtis Granderson (from DET)
Diamondbacks get:
Edwin Jackson (from DET)
Ian Kennedy (from NYY)
Tigers get:
Phil Coke (from NYY)
Austin Jackson (from NYY)
Max Scherzer (from ARI)
Daniel Schlereth (from ARI)

Looking at it with a little time to breathe, I think that the winners for now are the Yankees. A few years down the road, however, the Tigers could be the ones who come out smelling like roses.

Obviously, Granderson is an upgrade to the last year's combination of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner in center fielder. He offers more power (especially considering he's a powerful, pull-happy left-handed hitter in the new Yankee Stadium), excellent defense and explosive speed. Basically, if you take the best qualities from both Gardner and Cabrera, you get Granderson.

Despite losing Granderson, it seems that Detroit pulled in quite a haul. Scherzer and Jackson are both top-notch prospects. Jackson has the potential to be an everyday big league center fielder, albeit with considerably less power than Granderson, or even Cameron Maybin, the stud center field prospect whom the Tigers dealt in 2008 to get Miguel Cabrera from Florida.

Additionally, Scherzer has ace potential, but there are questions about his delivery. Although his won-loss record was an unimpressive 9-11 last season, his 174 strikeouts in 170 1/3 innings (9.2 K/9) and 111+ both point to big things in the 24-year-old's future.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who's excited for the 2010 Eastern League season? I know I am.

Three of the many, many reasons that, in December, I am already eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 2010 Eastern League season lie in (what I expect to be) the outfield of the New Britain Rock Cats, who, unfortunately, make their only trip to Waterfront Park at the end of July.

Those reasons go by the names: Joe Benson, Ben Revere and (hopefully) Aaron Hicks. Benson and Revere spent 2009 with the High-A Fort Myers Miracle, and performed marvelously.

Here are their numbers:
Revere: .311/.372/.741, four 3B, two HRs, 48 RBIs, 45 SBs (but 17 CS)
Benson: .285/.403/.814, three 3B, five HRs, 29 RBIs, 14 SBs (but 7 CS
Hicks played all of last season with Lo-A Beloit, and produced thusly:

Hicks: .251/.353/.735, three 3B, four HRs, 29RBIs, 10 SB (8 CS).

Entering last season, Baseball America ranked Hicks, who turned 20 just two months ago, as the Twins' top prospect. They ranked Revere and Benson, who are both 21, as the system's No. 2 and No. 15 players, respectively.

Obviously, these are three very similar players. Each is young, speedy and raw, with developing power. They can all hit the ball into the gaps (as evidenced by the 10 triples among them) but not quite over the wall (as evidenced by the 11 home runs among them). It also seems as if each is in need of some refined discipline on the basepaths.

The three combined to steal at a 68% clip just above the 66% it is suggested that one needs to achieve to actually help his team. Although none are particularly bad, (Revere led the pack with 74%, Benson finished at 67% and Hicks brought up the rear with his 56% success rate), each could make himself that much more valuable by learning to cut down on his times caught stealing.
Photos, from left to right: Revere, Benson, Hicks.