With opening day (featuring the World Series trophy) just 64 days away -- and pitchers and catchers reporting in just more than two weeks -- now seems as good a time as any to ask a few questions about what the Thunder might look like against the Erie SeaWolves come April 8.
Today marks the first of 10 questions in 10 days about the Yankees Double-A affiliate.
10. After a dreadful start, can Jeremy Bleich rebound and make a positive impact on the Thunder's rotation in 2010?
For his first two years, Franklin was blessed with a ton of talent -- especially from the men on the mound. The 2007 and 2008 seasons saw Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves and a host of other skilled moundsmen etch a path through Waterfront Park to The Show.
Last year's crop, although talented, simply could not match the pedigrees of their predecessors.
Probably the biggest name, at least from a long-term prospect standpoint, to pitch for the Thunder in 2009 was Jeremy Bleich. He, to say the very least, was extremely underwhelming -- especially for a first-round pick. His ERA with Trenton was 6.65, and he allowed a ghastly 84 hits in 65 innings.
Despite all those negatives, though, there still were a few positives that lurked behind the numbers.
For one, Bleich -- for all intents and purposes -- was in his first pro season last year. He doesn't turn 23 until midseason and, with the Yankees rotation pretty well-stocked for now, he'll have all the time he needs to develop.
Secondly, scouts still seem to like what they saw from Bleich as far as raw stuff is concerned. Frankie Piliere, a former Rangers scout who traded his JUGS gun for a laptop and now writes for AOL Fanhouse, projects Bleich will bounce back
in 2010. He notes an uptick in velocity
as a reason for optimism.
Bad 2009 aside, Bleich will be a big part of the Thunder's rotation two months from now. Whether that's a good thing remains to be seen.
Photo Credit: Mike Ashmore