Blogs > Minor Matters

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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Series in Preview - Thunder vs. SeaWolves

RHP Ryan Pope (0-2, 4.87) vs. LHP Jon Kibler (2-2, 2.55) 6:35 p.m.
LHP Jeremy Bleich (1-1, 2.38) vs. RHP LJ Gagnier (2-0, 1.54) 1:05 p.m.
RHP David Phelps (2-0, 1.08) vs. LHP Duane Below (1-3, 6.39) 1:05 p.m.

Keys to the Series: The Thunder need to keep the offensive prowess from Sunday working, while simultaneously getting rid of the absolutely abysmal pitching. The bullpen in particular, which blew three saves and took four losses on the 1-6 homestand, needs to get back on track. The Thunder had leads in six games of the homestand, and lost five.

Who's Hot: Austin Romine has an 11-game hitting streak going, during which time he's clubbed eight doubles and driven in as many runs. Amazingly enough, he didn't play during the 12-run outburst. ... Marcos Vechionacci is 4-for-9 with a home run and three RBIs over his last two games. ... Brandon Laird is 6 for his last 16.

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Series in Review - Thunder vs. New Hampshire

Friday: New Hampshire 4, Trenton 3, 10 innings
Saturday: New Hampshire 4, Trenton 1
Sunday: New Hampshire 14, Trenton 12

What went wrong: Pretty much everything. The bullpen blew three saves and accrued four of the Thunder's six losses on the seven-game homestand. After scoring four runs over the first 19 innings of the series, they scored a dozen in the third game ... and still lost. ... The team was 8-for-34 with runners in scoring position. Over the first and second contests they were 2-for-14. ... Thunder catchers went just 1-for-6 against Fisher Cat base stealers.

What went right: Of course, they did manage to put up 12 runs in the series finale. And they did it without Austin Romine, who is on an 11-game hitting streak, in the lineup. Edwar Gonzalez went 2-for-5 with a double and a triple. Marcos Vechionacci had a home run. ... The Thunder also swiped nine bases in the series.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Some video from yesterday

Here's D.J. Mitchell and Tony Franklin talking about the game.

Around the System (April 29)

Triple-A: Scranton 3, Louisville 2
A night after beating Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees still had some mojo going on Thursday morning. Zach McAllister gave Scranton six innings of one-run ball, but Amauri Sanit blew his first save of the season. Still, on the strength of solid relief work from Mark Melancon and a walk-off home run from Chad Huffman, the Yankees pulled out the victory. Every starter except Reegie Corona had at least one hit, and Kevin Russo had three.
Box score

Double-A: New Hampshire 14, Trenton 12
In perhaps one of the worst games I have ever seen, D.J. Mitchell gave up 11 runs in 4 1/3 innings en route to the loss. What makes the 14 runs put up by the Fisher Cats more amazing is the fact that their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters drew the collar. If you want to look for positives from Trenton, look toward the bottom of the lineup. Edwar Gonzalez and Marcos Vechionacci went 4-for-10 with two doubles, a triple and a home run. Brandon Laird had three hits.
Box score

High-A: Tampa 7, Dunedin 4
After an awful start his last time, Hector Noesi reaffirmed to everybody exactly why he belongs in Double-A sooner rather than later. The right-hander threw six innings of one-run (unearned) baseball. Oh, and did I mention he struck out 13 over those six frames? Didn't walk anybody, either. He's very good at baseball.

Also, ho-hum, Corban Joseph went 4-for-4 again with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. The man has six multi-hit games over his last ten, during which time he's clubbed five doubles, two home runs, driven in 11 and stolen five bases. If he keeps this up, he obviously deserves a promotion, but to where? Trenton has David Adams firmly entrenched, and Reegie Corona is in Scranton and on the 40-man.
Box score

Low-A: Hickory 4, Charleston 0
Graham Stoneburner pitched well (6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER) but was outdueled by Robbie Ross, the Rangers' No. 7 prospect. The RiverDogs managed just three hits (Kyle Higashioka, Jimmy Paredes and Luke Murton) off of the combination of Ross and Braden Tullis. Higashioka's hit was a double.
Box score

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Around The System, April 28

Triple-A: Scranton 5, Louisville 4
The Yankees faced Aroldis Chapman and emerged with a win. Granted, the loss was not tagged on Chapman, but rather reliever Enerio Del Rosario. Still, Kevin Russo and David Winfree on the first two professional home runs Chapman -- who reportedly hit 102 mph with his fastball -- has allowed. Juan Miranda connected on a two-run bomb in the eighth off of Del Rosario. With two more hits, Eduardo Nunez's batting average is at .384.
Box score

Double-A: New Hampshire 4, Trenton 1
Wilkin De La Rosa allowed three runs in the eighth inning, continuing the Thunder bullpen's stretch of poor outing. Through the first six games of the home stand, the relievers blew three saves and picked up three losses. De La Rosa allowed a home run to Brian Jeroloman in the inning, then a pair more on Brad Emaus' RBI double.
Box score

High-A: Dunedin 5, Tampa 2
Dan Kapala took the loss, but the real bad line of the night belonged to former Thunder reliever Phil Bartleski, who allowed three runs -- and a pair of longballs -- in 1 2/3 innings. Trenton Lare finished up with 1 1/3 scoreless frames. Trent Lockwood popped a longball in the ninth, his first of the season. Former Thunder outfielder Francisco Santana, in his 2010 debut, went 2-for-4 with a double.
Box score

Low-A: Hickory 7, Charleston 5
Continuing the theme of poor bullpen work around the system (outside of Scranton), Ryan Flannery imploded while trying to protect the lead Shaeffer Hall had left him. Hall, the RiverDogs' No. 1 starter, allowed one earned run over eight stellar innings, bumping his ERA to 0.81. Zoilo Almonte, DeAngelo Mack, Rob Lyerly and Jimmy Paredes each had a double in the loss. Mack, Paredes and Lyerly each had two hits, and Kyle Higashioka had three.
Box score

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Postgame Quotes: Tony Franklin

On why he didn't feel it necessary, after an ugly 14-12 loss, to chew out his team:
"I think we're past that point. I think we know what we've got, but it's a matter of clicking on all cylinders. My feeling is: We've got a good baseball team. We're in the majority of the games, even a game like this, we're right in it. How many times did we come back today? It would've been very easy for us to say 'to heck with it' and feel sorry for ourselves, but we didn't. "

"That's the one characteristic I really like about this club. There's no quit in these guys. They battle their butts off, even on days when they don't have the best stuff. D.J and Popey and Lance and all those guys have gone out there one time or another when they didn't have their best stuff and they've given us an opportunity to stay in baseball games. "

"We know what we've got, we've just got to find a way to get over that hump of bad luck. We create our own luck for ourselves, and once we do that, I think we'll be OK."
On what he says to D.J. Mitchell after a very rough outing:
"I don't know, I'll think of something. I'll probably try to lighten the moment, I guess, by calling him 'muscles' or something, like I always do. That'll probably lead to some baseball talk. I don't know what happened out there today. He's pretty reliable with throwing strikes, and that's the reason why he's here. I've had teams on the opposition tell me, 'Boy, he's got nasty stuff,' and he does. I don't know what it was, and sometimes you just can't explain it. I'm sure he and Tommy will talk about what happened today to try find and answer and solution, and next time he goes out he'll give you a better outing. "
On whether he thinks Mitchell's confidence may have been affected:
"I don't think there's a confidence issue with any of the guys out here. I don't think they're down, and I don't think it's a confidence issue. They may be guilty of overthinking sometimes. That's when it becomes a problem, when you're out there thinking about what you're trying to do, rather than just going out there in pitching Maybe they're guilty of that a little bit, but as far as confidence, I don't see that. I don't see that at all.
On why he kept Mitchell in while he was getting hit hard:
"Let's see if we can get the guy through the fifth inning. If we win this thing, and he's the pitcher of record, that would be great. We tried to get him through the fifth inning and he didn't. Their guy didn't stay in very long either. It happens from time to time. When you have games like this, when the pitchers start to rack up pitches, you start wondering how deep you're going to go into your bullpen, because there is a game tomorrow and the next day and the next day. You have to be a little careful."

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Postgame Quotes: D.J. Mitchell

On what happened overall:
"They hit the ball. I fell behind in the count, they took advantage of it. They hit some good pitches. It's definitely not the outing I'm looking for; my team put up plenty of runs for me. I didn't keep my team in the ballgame, and that's what my job is to do."
On whether any specific pitch wasn't working:
"I'm not going to say my location was perfect with every pitch, but I actually felt pretty comfortable with all my pitches. I tip my hat, they did a good job. If I made a mistake, they hit it and they hit it well. That's just the way it goes. I have to get better from there."
On whether, after a wild first inning, he got a sense the game might deteriorate:
"No, I really didn't think that at the time. I knew after that first inning that I just needed to settle down. I did put up a zero the next inning. My team, they played well and they battled. They put some runs up for me. They had a chance to get me off the hook, but I kept giving up the lead. It was just a bad day altogether."
On whether he's worried about his status in the rotation or on the Thunder in general:
"I'm not going to think about that. I'm just going to take it day by day. I'll keeping doing my sides, my bullpens each day, keep going to the weight room. Same routine for me unless I hear something different, then it'll change."

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LIVE BLOG: New Hampshire at Thunder

New Hampshire
Mastroianni - CF
Crabbe - 2B
Cooper - 1B
Emaus - DH
Thames - LF
Bowman - 3B
Calderone - RF
Mayorson - SS
Quintana - C
Perez LHP

Krum - CF
Brewer - LF
Adams - 2B
Laird - 3B
Gorecki - DH
Gil - C
Gonzalez - RF
Vechionacci - 1B
Mitchell RHP
Nunez - SS

First inning: Well, that was gruesome. Mitchell looked nervous and wild. He allowed three runs on just one hit, but committed a key error that cost him an out and made a key misplay that quashed any chance the Thunder had to turn two. 3-0 Fisher Cats.

The Thunder put together a hit and a walk, then executed a double steal, but Reid Gorecki was caught looking to end the threat.

Second inning:
D.J. Mitchell seems to have recovered from his early shakiness. He retired the three hitters he faced on harmless groundouts, the very thing he should get effortlessly.

The Thunder also got a run back in this frame when they strung together an Edwar Gonzalez triple and an RBI groundout from Marcos Vechionacci.

Third inning:
The Thunder put together a rare four -spot with RBIs from Gonzalez, Laird, Gorecki (two). To put that frame in perspective, the Thunder have scored four or fewer runs in 14 GAMES this season. 5-3 Thunder

Fourth inning:
And as quickly as the Thunder had the lead, it evaporates. Mitchell gets hit hard, and the lead run comes home on Darin Mastroianni's sac fly to medium right. 6-5 Fisher Cats

What an interesting game this is. After scoring four runs in the previous 19 innings of this series, the Thunder have scored seven in the last two innings. Laird picked up another RBI with a blooper into left field. 8-6 Thunder

Fifth inning:
In the previous post, I said this game was interesting. I lied. This game is out of control. The Fisher Cats sent 11 men to the plate, scored seven times on five hits and three walks and made what should have been an error were it not a fielder's choice. 13-8 Fisher Cats

Sixth inning:
Through some sort of divine intervention, the teams have combined to post four consecutive zeroes on the big board. Cory Arbiso is clearly the Thunder's pitcher of the week.

Eighth inning: Thunder mounted a little bit of a threat, scored three more times and made it a two-run game heading into the ninth. Jose Gil's two-run single to center did most of the damage, and Dan Brewer's run-scoring double brought home the other. 14-12 Fisher Cats.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Around the System

Triple-A: Scranton 2, Louisville 1
Jason Hirsh flirted with a no-hitter before he allowed a home run to Corky Miller in the eighth. Still, one run over 7 2/3 was enough for the win on this night, before Aroldis Chapman and his big, bad left arm pay the Yankees a visit. Jesus Montero, Colin Curtis and Juan Miranda each had two hits, and one of Miranda's left the yard.
Box score

Double-A: New Hampshire 4, Trenton 3, 10 innings
David Phelps labored for five innings, but still held the Fisher Cats to just one run. The bullpen, however, did not do its job. Wilkins Arias, Eric Wordekemper and Grant Duff couldn't hold the opposition down, and the Thunder lost. Austin Romine was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs in the loss.
Box score

High-A: Dunedin 7, Tampa 5
Fresh off winning Florida State League Player of the Week honors, Corban Joseph went 2-for-5 with four RBIs in a T-Yanks loss. Jack Rye went 4-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored. Walter Ibarra had a pair of singles. Jairo Heredia took the loss, allowing two earned runs over four innings.
Box score

Low-A: Charleston 5, Rome 0
Here's a stat for you: RiverDogs pitchers have put up zeroes in 37 out of their last 39 innings, including the last 19 in a row. Kelvin Perez threw six of those bagels on the board yesterday, allowing just four hits (but also three walks) during that span. Zoilo Almonte had two doubles, and Luke Murton, Francisco Arcia, Rob Lyerly and Taylor Grote each added a two-bagger. Jimmy Paredes went 3-for-4 with a run scored and three stolen bases.
Box score

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thunder place Damon Sublett on the DL, activate Edwar Gonzalez

After watching Damon Sublett leave in the fifth inning of Sunday's contest, only to be replaced by another left-hander, Kevin Smith, this move is not all that surprising.

Before the injury, Sublett was hitting .267/.365/.810 with two home runs and nine RBIs. Gonzalez has not played in a game this season.

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Around the System - Quickie Edition

Triple-A: Postponed

Double-A: Off

High-A: Off

Low-A: Charleston 5, Rome 0
This had to be nice for Yankees brass to see. Arodys Vizcaino, the starter dealt to Atlanta for the struggling Javier Vazquez, got hit around a little bit against the RiverDogs last night. His opponent, Jose Ramirez, however, was fantastic.

The 20-year-old righty delivered six innings of shutout ball with nine strikeouts while earning his first win of 2010. On the young season, Ramirez has allowed just 19 hits over 23 1/3 frames, and has fanned 29 in that time. Sounds like a keeper to me.

Zoilo Almonte -- who had two hits -- and DeAngelo Mack each connected on a longball (Almonte's came off of Vizcaino). Mack and Rob Lyerly each had a pair of two-out RBIs.

Box score

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Around the System - another two-fer

Triple-A: Scranton 5, Lehigh Valley 4; Lehigh Valley 6, Scranton 2
Eduardo Nunez went nuts on Sunday, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs. Kevin Russo also had a good day, going 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored. With a scoreless inning of work, Kevin Whelan picked up the win and lowered his ERA to 13.50. Zach McAllister took his first Triple-A loss on Saturday, allowing six runs on 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chad Huffman connected on his second longball with Scranton.
Box score 1
Box score 2

Double-A: Portland 9, Trenton 5; Portland 5, Trenton 2
If you read the blog at all, then you know the story on these games. Bad pitching from Ryan Pope and Noel Castillo led to two big losses at home to the Sea Dogs. Brandon Laird hit his second home run of the season on Saturday, the combination of Marcos Vechionacci, Dan Brewer and Luis Nunez went 5-for-13 with a triple and an RBI.
Box score 1
Box score 2

High-A: Tampa 5, Lakeland 3; Lakeland 13, Tampa 7
Adam Warren turned in another fine performance yesterday, and the T-Yanks got some revenge for the beating the Flying Tigers put on Hector Noesi the night before. Warren, a 2009 draftee from the University of North Carolina, scattered nine hits over 6 1/3 one-run frames. He lowered his ERA to 1.16 in the process. On Sunday, Melky Mesa, Myron Leslie, Mitch Abeita and Jack Rye each had two hits. On Saturday, Corban Joseph went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a home run.
Box score 1
Box score 2

Low-A: Charleston 3, Rome 2; Charleston 4, Rome 3, 11 innings
Starting pitching stole the show in these two contests, especially Graham Stoneburner on Saturday. Stoneburner, a Clemson alum, retired 20 straight at one point during eight innings of three-hit baseball with eight strikeouts. Sean Black followed Stoneburner on Sunday and turned in 7 1/3 innings of two-run work. He allowed just five hits and struck out four.
Box score 1
Box score 2

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Series in Preview: Thunder vs. Fisher Cats

Tuesday: RHP David Phelps (2-0, 0.77) vs. RHP Zach Stewart (1-1, 7.71) -- 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday: Lance Pendleton (1-2, 4.05) vs. RHP Bobby Bell (2-1, 7.31) -- 7:05 p.m.
Thursday: DJ Mitchell (2-1, 3.07) vs. LHP Luis Perez (2-1, 1.52) -- 10:35 a.m.

Brandon Laird and Austin Romine just came off of a terrific series against Portland. Combined, the Thunder's Nos. 3 and 4 hitters went 10-for-29 with five doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs and five walks. ... As you can see by his numbers, David Phelps has also been hot of late. He's allowed just seven hits in 11 2/3 innings and has permitted just one walk so far. ... David Adams has cooled off, going just 2-for-12 with two walks against Portland. ... In a strange twist, the Thunder won't see any of the starters they saw against New Hampshire last week.
Brian Jeroloman leads the team with a .348 average, a .444 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .543. He also boasts six doubles, tied for second in the Eastern League. ... Eric Thames leads the team in hits, with 19 in 61 at-bats. That's good for a .311 average. ... Thames and Adam Calderone are tied for the team lead with two home runs apiece. ... The Thunder won't face him, but Kyle Drabek has struck out an EL-leading 20 hitters. ... Luis Perez, whom the Thunder will face, is fifth in the league in ERA, with a 1.52 mark.

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Series in Review - Thunder vs. Portland

Thursday: Portland 3, Thunder 2
Friday: Thunder 9, Portland 1
Saturday: Portland 5, Thunder 2
Sunday: Portland 9, Thunder 5

Key to the Series: Relief pitching, and Lars Anderson. Noel Castillo twice allowed tie-breaking home runs to the Portland first baseman.Wilkin De La Rosa, stellar up until this point, also blew two saves in the set. In his 3 1/3 innings, the left-hander gave up three earned runs on seven hits and three walks. When your seventh- and eighth-inning guys are giving up runs left and right, the team is obviously not going to be successful.

Honorable mention: If there was anything good about this series for the home team, it was the emergence of Austin Romine and Brandon Laird as middle-of-the-order threats. Here are the stat lines for each man during the four-game set.

Romine: 5-for-13, four doubles, three walks, RBI
Laird: 5-for-16, double, two home runs, seven RBIs, two walks

As an additional note, courtesy of Jay Dunn, Laird has been super clutch this year. With runners in scoring position and two outs, the third baseman is hitting 5-for-11 with 7 RBIs.

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Morning Links and video

Good morning.

The thunder lost yesterday, 9-5, to the Portland Sea Dogs. Once again, Noel Castillo gave up a tie-breaking home run to Portland first baseman Lars Anderson, who, by the way, is the living embodiment of the California surfer dude stereotype.

Here is the link to the game story.

I also wrote a sidebar about Christian Garcia, who on April 20 underwent his second Tommy John procedure on his right elbow. There are also notes in that story about Jeremy Bleich's struggles with command, and a brief scare for Austin Romine.

Here's the link to that one.

Additionally, I also shot some video of local dogs and their owners for Bark in the Park day at Waterfront Park. For your viewing pleasure, here it is:

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Live Blog: Portland at Thunder

Spears - 2B
Chang - 3B
Kalish - LF
Exposito - DH
Anderson - 1B
Apodaca - C
Iglesias - SS
Lin - CF
Place - RF
Doubront - RHP

Krum - CF
Adams - 2B
Romine -C
Laird - 3B
Sublett - DH
Gorecki - LF
Brewer - RF
Vechionacci - 1B
Nunez - SS
Bleich - LHP

Top First: Ryan Kalish's double to deep center drives in a run early off Bleich. Of course, as he seems to do a lot this year, Bleich opened the inning with a walk.

Bottom First: Austin Krum doubles to lead off, and is followed by walks from David Adams and Austin Romine. Still, out of that golden threat the Thunder could produce just one run. That tally came on Brandon Laird's double-play grounder.

Top second: And, as soon as it was tied, it's untied. Juan Apodaca hit a ball to right that just kept carrying over the wall. 2-1 Sea Dogs.

Bottom second: Pretty meek inning there for the home side, with Gorecki bouncing back to the mound, and Dan Brewer and Marcos Vechionacci fanning looking.

Top third: Bleich sets 'em down 1-2-3.

Bottom third: Krum walks with one out, then is driven home by Romine's double over center fielder Che-Hsuan Lin's head. Laird follows that with a bloop single to left-center, bringing home Laird. 3-2 Thunder

Top fourth:
Since the home run, Bleich has retired nine straight.

Bottom fourth: Vechionacci and Nunez string together a pair of two-out singles, but Nunez is out trying to stretch his hit into a double. Still 3-2 Thunder.

Top fifth: Marcos Vechionacci, being tried at first base again today, spears a line drive with two outs and the bases loaded, saving Jeremy Bleich's bacon and keeping the Thunder's lead. After five innings, Bleich has thrown 97 pitches, 57 of which were strikes. Josh Schmidt looks to be up next.

Bottom fifth: Strange move here. With two outs and two on, Franklin pinch-hits Kevin Smith, a lefty, against Tommy Hottovy, another lefty. Smith took the place of Sublett, another left-hander. Will investigate later.

Thunder added an insurance run in the sixth, but found out they needed a little more when Juan Apodaca's double brought home the tying run. Lars Anderson, who represented the go-ahead run, was thrown out at the dish. Score tied 4-4.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Early Afternoon links

Good afternoon, the Thunder topped the Sea Dogs last night, 9-1. D.J. Mitchell outpitched Casey Kelly, Reid Gorecki was the offense, and Brandon Laird had his second home run in as many nights. Mike Ashmore was there last night, as he will be today. Here's his game story.

Mike also wrote a sidebar about Cory Arbiso and Justin Snyder, and the struggles they've had after skipping High-A Tampa entirely. Here's that piece.

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Around the System - Day 16

Triple-A: Scranton 6, Lehigh Valley 3
Ivan Nova contributed another excellent performance -- 6 1/3 innings, 3 hits, 1 R, 7 Ks -- before handing it over to Mark Melancon (who got hit a little) and Jonathan Albaladejo to close things out. With the outing, Nova, who also allowed five walks, lowered his ERA to a sparkling 1.88. Colin Curtis went 4-for-5 with three doubles, a run and three RBIs. Eduardo Nunez had two hits and stole his seventh base, good for third in the International League.
Box score

Double-A: Trenton 9, Portland 1
In what was billed a matchup of two prime pitching prospects, D.J. Mitchell emerged as last night's clear winner. The sinkerballer allowed two hits over six innings while outdueling Portland's Casey Kelly. Reid Gorecki, Dan Brewer, Kevin Smith, Austin Romine and Luis Nunez each doubled, and Brandon Laird hit his second home run in as many nights. Smith and Nunez each had two hits, while Gorecki had three.
Box score

High-A: Tampa 11, Daytona 3
Jack Rye had three doubles and two RBIs, and the T-Yanks topped Daytona. Brad Suttle, Addison Maruszak and Melky Mesa had two hits apiece in the win. Abraham Almonte and Jose Pirela each scored twice. Pat Venditte pitched two more scoreless innings -- albeit while allowing three hits -- in the process. Brad Rulon picked up the win.
Box score

Low-A: Charleston 6, Hickory 3
Shaeffer Hall lowered his ERA to 0.71 before handing the ball to Ronny Marte, Michael Solbach and Ryan Flannery to finish the game. Taylor Grote and Luke Murton each went deep -- both solo shots. Rob Lyerly and Jimmy Paredes each had three hits and scored a run apiece. Lyerly also stole a base.
Box score

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Early afternoon links

The Thunder lost yesterday, 3-2, to the Portland Sea Dogs. Late home runs from Ray Chang and Lars Anderson off of reliever Noel Castillo ultimately proved to be difference. Brandon Laird's solo home run in the bottom of the ninth gave Trenton a glimmer of hope, but Damon Sublett's groundout closed the book.

Mike Ashmore covered the game for The Trentonian (as he will tonight, tomorrow and Tuesday. He filed this game story and this sidebar.

As discussed in the sidebar, tonight's pitching matchup features Casey Kelly battling D.J. Mitchell -- a truly wonderful battle. It's supposed to be beautiful tonight, and they're giving away Joba Chamberlain bobbleheads. I see no reason not to go.

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Around the System - Day 14 and 15

Note, because I was busy yesterday with Strasburg coverage, I forgot to do the around the system. To rectify that situation, I will post that day's box score below today's. Now, on with the show.

Triple-A: Syracuse 8, Scranton 1
Jason Hirsh got knocked around again (five earned runs in six innings), and the Yankees fell to the Chiefs. Kevin Whelan, who appears to be on his last chance in this organization, gave up three more runs on three hits in just 2/3 of an inning. The lesson here is: Even if you have a high-90s fastball, you'd better have something else.
Today's box score
Yesterday's box score

Double-A: Portland 3, Trenton 2
Back-to-back bombs in the eighth from Lars Anderson and Ray Chang did the big damage in this one, taking the spotlight off an unlikely pitching duel between Lance Pendleton and Eammon Portice. On the positive side for Trenton, Brandon Laird went deep off of Bryce Cox with two outs in the ninth.
Box score
Yesterday's box score

High-A: Daytona 9, Tampa 6
Jairo Heredia got lit up to the tune of six earned in three innings, and the T-Yanks couldn't recover. Trenton Lare gave up three runs on three hits in his inning of work. Neil Medchill had three hits, and Jose Pirela and Walter Ibarra each had a pair of knocks. Medchill and Corban Joseph each had two RBIs.
Box score
Yesterday's box score

Low-A: Hickory 7, Charleston 6
Kelvin Perez gave up a pair of earned runs over six innings, but the bullpen -- most notably Francisco Rondon -- could not hold the lead. DeAngelo Mack went 1-for-4 with a home run and scored twice. Ray Kruml stole a base.
Box score
Yesterday's box score

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Series in Preview: Thunder vs. Fisher Cats

Thursday: RHP Eammon Portice (2‐0, 2.08) vs. RHP Lance Pendleton (1‐2, 6.23)
Friday: RHP Casey Kelly (0‐0, 0.00) vs. RHP DJ Mitchell (1‐1, 4.15)
Saturday: RHP Stephen Fife (0‐1, 4.00) vs. RHP Ryan Pope (0‐1, 4.20)
Sunday: LHP Felix Doubront (2‐0, 3.21) vs. LHP Jeremy Bleich (1‐1, 2.04)

Let's see, who could it be? Oh, that's right, David Adams. With a 5-for-11 series against New Hampshire (including a double, a home run and four walks), Adams has raised his season line to .388/.455/1.087, good for 4th, 5th and 5th in the Eastern League. ... D.J. Mitchell also pitched very well his last start, one-hitting the Sea Dogs over five innings. ... Austin Romine also seems to be heating up. He was 6-for-14 with three RBIs in the last series.

Eammon Portice and Felix Doubront each have 2-0 records. Portice is a reliever making his first start tonight. ... Lars Anderson, a Double-A returnee, is hitting .295/.360/.951 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. ... Ryan Kalish also has three home runs, and Luis Exposito also has 10 RBIs. ... Ray Chang has a team-leading five doubles.

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Series in Review - Thunder vs. Fisher Cats

Monday: Fisher Cats 5, Thunder 4
Tuesday: Fisher Cats 2, Thunder 1
Wednesday: Thunder 13, Fisher Cats 3

Key to the Series: Oh, those bases on balls. If not for Jeremy Bleich's six walks in Game 2, then maybe we're talking about a Thunder series win. After all, Bleich allowed just three hits in 5 1/3 innings. Overall, Bleich has walked 11 men in 17 2/3 innings but has held the opposition to a .164 average against. If he can limit those walks, he'll be truly dominant.

Honorable mention: David Adams, who right now is as hot as bacon grease. Including an 0-for-4 in Game 1, went 5-for-11 with a double, a grand slam and four walks. His season line moves to .388/.455/1.087. Thing is, if he keeps hitting like this, where is he going to go? Scranton has two middle infielders who are on the 40-man.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Live Blog: Reading at Harrisburg

Here I am at the beautiful new Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, a brisk 2.5 hour drive from home. Still, Stephen Strasburg is slated for his third professional start this morning, so it's all worth it. The opponent is the Reading Phillies, but the big guns -- Tyson Gillies and Domonic Brown - are not in the starting lineup, so that's a bit of a bummer. They'll get their crack at the phenom in a few days, when Harrisburg takes a trip to FirstEnergy Stadium.

Michael Spidale - CF
Freddy Galvis - SS
Tagg Bozied - LF
Brian Stavisky - 1B
Kevin Mahar - RF
Brandon Pinckney - 3B
Tuffy Gosewich - C
Keoni DeRenne - 2B
Yohan Flande - P

Bradley Coon - CF
Adam Fox - 3B
Danny Espinosa -SS
Jesus Valdez - RF
Leonard Davis - LF
Chris Marrero - 1B
Sean Rooney - C
Pedro Lopez - 2B
Stephen Strasburg - P

First inning: Strasburg does what he's supposed to do: mow 'em down. Spidale, Galvis and Bozied go down on a pair of groundouts to left side and a foul pop.

Flande, meanwhile, who enters with an ERA of 0.00, puts a couple of men on before wiggling out of trouble.

Second inning: Strasburg gets his first two Ks of the day, one on a 97 mph fastball at the letters, the other on an 81 mph breaking pitch in the dirt. He is a very, very nasty man.

Third inning: Strasburg looks mortal. He gives up a one-out hit to Keoni De Renne, then, after Yohan Flande strikes out on a bunt, Michael Spidale reached on an error by shortstop Danny Espinosa. Never fear, though, Nats fans, Strasburg got the next man to bounce into a fielder's choice.

One thing I found curious, however, was that, after Flande, Strasburg's velocity dipped from sitting 96-98 into the 93-94 range.

Fourth inning: I just shot some videos and am uploading them as I type. Anyway, in this inning, Strasburg fanned Tagg Bozied looking, walked Brian Stavisky, then got the next two men in fairly short order. Fastball back up to 96 this time.

Also, the Senators finally cracked Flande when Bradley Coon laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that hugged the third-base line. 1-0, Senators.

Fifth inning: Strasburg sets down the R-Phils in order, including Tuffy Gosewich on strikes. That marked the end of the afternoon for the ace-in-waiting. His final line: 5 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 6 SO, 67 pitches, 48 strikes.

As I said, Strasburg is out of the game, but I would be remiss if I didn't also praise the job Yohan Flande is doing out there. He has managed to give up just one run -- on 11 hits. The only run came on Coon's perfect squeeze bunt in the fourth.

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Around the System - Day 13

Triple-A: Buffalo 11, Scranton 7
This featured one of the worst bullpen meltdowns in recent memory. Handed a three-run lead in the seventh, the duo of Zack Segovia and Kevin Whelan proceeded to allow eight runs over the next two innings. Both relievers allowed four runs. Starter Romulo Sanchez allowed three runs over six innings, and shortstop Eduardo Nunez collected three hits.
Box score

Double-A: New Hampshire 2, Trenton 1
Jeremy Bleich walked six over 5 1/3 innings, but it was back-to-back singles from Adam Loewen and Al Quintana that drove in both of the runs. The Thunder cut the lead in half in the sixth on Austin Romine's RBI single, but could get no further. David Adams notched three hits.
Box score

High-A: Tampa 3, Clearwater 0
Adam Warren was stellar in the system's only win of the day. The 2009 draftee blanked the Threshers on a hit and a walk over six innings. With the outing, Warren lowers his ERA to a spectacular 1.06. Pat Venditte and Jonathan Ortiz went the final three innings, allowing just a hit and fanning two. Corban Joseph, Myron Leslie and Walter Ibarra each had RBIs, and Ibarra stole an incredible four bases.
Box score

Low-A: Hickory 8, Charleston 6
Zoilo Almonte popped a pair of home runs, but it wasn't enough to overcome Sean Black's lousy afternoon. Black allowed seven runs (six earned) over five innings and did not strike out a batter. Luke Murton had the other three RBIs.
Box score

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Around the System, Day 12

Triple-A: Scranton 7, Buffalo 2
Interesting note: The Yankees' starters do not have a win all season. That trend continued yesterday with Zach McAllister, who pitched well but exited in a 1-1 tie. Once McAllister left, Scranton scored six more times, four of which came off of reliever Bobby Parnell. In the win, Jesus Montero hit his first Triple-A home run.
Box score

Double-A: New Hampshire 5, Trenton 4
Ryan Pope allowed five runs in the second inning, and that was all she wrote for Trenton. Austin Romine had his best day in Double-A, going 3-for-5 with two runs, an RBI and a stolen base. Damon Sublett also had a two-run double in the loss. Austin Krum stole two bases.
Box score

High-A: Tampa 3-1, Clearwater 1-5
In the first game of their doubleheader, Hector Noesi threw five innings of shutout baseball to help the T-Yanks win. He struck out a pair and lowered his ERA to 1.06. ETA in Trenton: Memorial Day. In the nightcap, Phil Bartleski allowed four runs in relief of Dan Kapala -- starting in place of injured Andrew Brackman -- earning his first loss of the year. Corban Joseph was 4-for-6 with a home run and a double over both games.
Box score 1
Box score 2

Low-A: Augusta 5, Charleston 2
Chris Dominguez's three-run walk-off home run off of Ben Watkins in the 11th inning gave the RiverDogs a loss and rendered irrelevant Graham Stoneburner's excellent start. The Clemson alum scattered eight hits and three walks over six one-run frames. He also fanned eight GreenJackets. Luke Murton had a pair of doubles and scored a run. DeAngelo Mack doubled and scored the other run.
Box score

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Thunder fall to New Hampshire, 5-4

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Ryan Pope gave up five runs in the second inning, putting the Thunder in a hole from which they would never recover during a 5-4 loss yesterday to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats last night at Stadium.
After a scoreless first inning, Pope, who’d performed ably in his first two starts, hit a rough patch.
Eric Thames and Adam Calderone opened with a single and double, producing the opening tally. Two outs later, catcher Brian Jeroloman doubled home Calderone with the second run.
The next man, Darin Mastroianni, singled, and Callix Crabbe connected on a three-run home run that completed the damage.
The Thunder’s offense did all it could, but in the end came up a run short.
In the fourth, catcher Austin Romine — who was 3-for-5 on the evening — singled and stole second before being driven in on Reid Gorecki’s single.
The Thunder got two more in the fifth, when designated hitter Damon Sublett’s double to right brought home Romine and Laird.
In the sixth, with starter Kyle Drabek out of the game, the Thunder tacked on one more against Bubbie Buzachero when Romine’s single brought home Austin Krum from second.
From there, New Hampshire relievers Trystan Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar silenced Trenton’s bats and sealed the home side’s series-opening victory.
Jeremy Bleich matches up against Zach Stewart tonight in the second game of the series. Game time is 6:35 p.m.

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John Van Benschoten called to Scranton

Thanks to Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times Tribune for this, but John Van Benschoten has been called to Triple-A to replace Boone Logan, who was called to New York to take Chan Ho Park's spot on the roster.

With the Thunder, Van Benschoten -- a first-round selection in the 2001 draft -- was 1-0 in two games, with four innings total.

There's no word of a corresponding move for the Thunder, who are now carrying 23 players. If I had to make a guess, I'd say either Cory Arbiso or Edwar Gonzalez comes off the disabled list. If they do make a real call-up, however, I would be shocked if Pat Venditte, who has been excellent with Tampa, doesn't get the call.

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Series in Preview - Thunder vs. Fisher Cats

Tonight: Ryan Pope (0-0, 1.80) vs. Kyle Drabek (1-1, 5.06)
Tomorrow: Jeremy Bleich (1-0, 1.46) vs. Zach Stewart (1-1, 7.71)
Wednesday: David Phelps (1-0, 1.59) vs. Marty McLeary (0-1, 18.90)

Thunder: Bleich has looked very much like he's put his terrible 2009 behind him. Five walks in 12 1/3 innings, however, means command may still be something to work on. The six hits in the same time frame have counteracted the walks, though, and kept his WHIP at an excellent 0.89. ... David Adams' average has dropped to .368, but that figure -- and his .979 OPS -- is still good for the team lead. ... Damon Sublett has four hits this year, but two are homers. ... Brandon Laird hit his first home run yesterday, perhaps a sign that he's heating up.

Fisher Cats
: Brad Emaus is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with a team-high eight RBIs. He also sports an otherworldly .500 on-base percentage. ... Catcher Brian Jeroloman is hitting .321/.387/.936. ... David Cooper and Jonathan Diaz each have three doubles. ... The Thunder should be thankful they are not facing Luis Perez, who is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.47. ... Daniel Farquhar has three saves.

Notes: McLeary has racked up that 18.90 ERA without giving up a home run. ... New Hampshire's roster features Adam Loewen, the former Orioles pitcher who is trying to make it back to the majors as an outfielder. ... Drabek faced the Thunder once last season with Reading. He went five innings, gave up two runs and got the win. ... The following Thunder have faced McLeary: Austin Krum (1-for-2, BB, 3B, RBI), Marcos Vechionacci (0-for-2, BB), Justin Snyder (0-for-2).

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Series in Review - Thunder vs. Portland

Game 1: Trenton 4, Portland 2
Game 2: PPD
Game 3: Trenton 3, Portland 1
Game 4: Portland 2, Trenton 1

Key to the series: Besides rain, I'd say the Thunder won this set with some really nice pitching from Jeremy Bleich and D.J. Mitchell. Bleich put together his second fantastic start of the season, and Mitchell one-hit the Sea Dogs over five innings for his first Double-a win.

Honorable mention: Damon Sublett's home run in the 11th inning in Game 1 was obviously huge, and the stellar relief work from Wilkin De La Rosa gave the Thunder time to rally.

Notes: Brandon Laird hit his first home run of the season, over the Maine Monster at Hadlock Field. ... The Thunder are now 7-3 and lead the EL East by a game.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Around the System - Day 11

Triple-A: Scranton 4, Buffalo 3, 10 innings
Mark Melancon picked up the win in this one, which was won on Juan Miranda's sacrifice fly in the top of the tenth. Jonathan Albaladejo pitched a rocky bottom half, but hung on for the save. Eduardo Nunez went 4-for-5 with a home run and two stolen bases.
Box score

Double-A: Trenton 3, 1; Portland 1, 2
The Thunder split a doubleheader with the Sea Dogs, moving to 7-3 in 2010. D.J. Mitchell pitched five innings of one-hit ball and picked up his first Double-A win in Game 1. Austin Krum doubled, scored twice and had a stolen base. Brandon Laird homered in the nightcap, but the combination of Casey Kelly, Eammon Portice and Jason Rice held the Thunder bats otherwise.
Box score 1
Box score 2

High-A: Postponed

Low-A: Augusta 3, Charleston 1
Shaeffer Hall allowed an unearned run over eight innings of three hit baseball, but Francisco Rondon couldn't hold the slim lead he was given. Luke Murton, Kyle Higashioka and Taylor Grote had the RiverDogs' only hits. Garrison Lassiter drove in the lone run on a sacrifice fly.
Box score

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Thunder split with Sea Dogs

(PR) The Thunder split their afternoon doubleheader with the Sea Dogs on Sunday, winning the first game 3-1, and losing the second game 2-1. After the day, the Thunder are now 7-3 on the season.

Trenton got on the board first in game one, as Austin Krum led off the game with a double down the leftfield line. The next batter, David Adams, hit a double into the left-center field gap, and that allowed Austin Krum to cross home plate with the first run of the game. In the fourth inning, the Thunder had the bases loaded with one out for Luis Nunez, and he knocked a base hit into rightfield to bring in Brandon Laird, making it 2-0 Thunder.

Laird would get his chance to produce a run in the top of the fifth, and he did just that. After Austin Krum walked and stole second base, Laird came up and lined a ground ball through the hole and into leftfield to bring in Krum.

DJ Mitchell was terrific in his second start of the season. He earned the victory after giving up just one hit through five innings and struck out two. Grant Duff finished the game and recorded his third save of the year.

In game two, it was Portland that jumped out to an early lead when Luis Exposito singled in Ryan Kalish. Then, Lars Anderson doubled off the ‘Maine Monster’, which brought in Exposito.

In the fourth inning, Brandon Laird hit his first home run of the year; a solo shot off Portland reliever Eammon Portice, and that cut the Sea Dog lead to 2-1. However, Portice settled down and gave up just one more hit, and Jason Rice came on to close and preserve the 2-1 victory for Portland.

The Thunder travel to New Hampshire on Monday to start a three game series with the Fisher Cats. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35PM.

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Live Blog: Greensboro at Lakewood

Rand Smith - CF
Taylor Krick - 3B
Kyle Jensen - LF
Kyle Skipworth - DH
Carlos Paulino - C
Chad Cregar - RF
Brent Weaver - 1B
Jose Torres - 2B
Michael Pasek -SS
Matt Montgomery - P

Jiwan James - CF
Leandro Castro - LF
Anthony Hewitt - RF
Sebastian Valle - C
Jeremy Barnes - 2B
Darin Ruf - 1B
Stephen Batts - DH
Alan Schoenberger - 3B
Jonathan Villar - SS
Nick Hernandez - P

First inning: Nick Hernandez looks fantastic, getting a pair of grounders to short and freezing Taylor Krick.

Jiwan James helped the Grasshoppers out by popping up a bunt before Leandro Castro beat out an infield single. Anthony Hewitt and Sebastian Valle followed with strikeouts.

Second inning: Hernandez continued breezing through the Grasshoppers. He fanned Kyle Skipworth looking, then got Carlos Paulino to pop to second and a bouncer to first from Chad Cregar.

On the other side, Montgomery matched Hernandez. He weaved his way through Jeremy Barnes, Darin Ruf and Stephen Batts with a pair of strikeouts.

Third inning: The duel continues. Both pitchers went 1-2-3 frames. At this rate, we'll be here about another hour, or, like the Mets and the Cardinals last night, another five hours.

Fourth inning: Skipworth shoots one through the right side for a hit, but that's the extent of the damage as Hernandez gets the next three. He's allowed one hit through five.

The BlueClaws also go quietly, on two flies to right and a strikeout.

Fifth inning: At last, some offense. The BlueClaws put together three straight hits, including a leadoff triple by Stephen Batts, and Lakewood put up a three-spot. After five, 2-0 Claws.

Nick Hernandez is absolutely cruising. The left-hander has allowed a single hit, off the bat of Kyle Skipworth, to this point. For a guy who is barely touching 90, Hernandez sure looks dominant.

Claws add three more, making the score 5-0 after seven.

Alan Schoenberger, a 21-year-old shortstop from Queensland, Australia, has three RBIs today. In his previous three seasons he had driven in a total of 13 runs. That's baseball.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Around the System - Day 10

Triple-A: Buffalo 2, Scranton 0
Dillon Gee held the Yankees to three hits over seven innings and struck out eight in the process. Jason Hirsh got roughed up a little in the third, but otherwise scattered six hits over seven frames.
Scranton got its hits from Jon Weber, Juan Miranda and Eduardo Nunez, who also stole a base.
Box score

Double-A: Postponed

High-A: Daytona 9, Tampa 0
Jairo Heredia allowed eight runs (six earned) over 3 2/3 innings in the T-Yanks' loss. Walter Ibarra had three hits, including a double. Jose Pirela stole a base, his third of the season. Pirela and Melky Mesa had Tampa's other two hits.
Box score

Low-A: Charleston 4, Augusta 0
Kelvin Perez fanned nine over seven dominant innings against Zack Wheeler, one of the Giants' top prospects. Gabriel Tatis and Ryan Flannery closed out the win. It was Flannery's third save. Jimmy Paredes went 2-for-5 with two runs scored, a double, an RBI and a stolen base. DeAngelo Mack also had two hits, raising his average to .281.
Box score

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Pictures from Lakewood

In these photos are (clockwise)
Domingo Santana, Anthony Hewitt
and Jiwan James.

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LIVE BLOG: Greensboro at Lakewood

Rand Smith - CF
Terrence Dayleg - SS
Kyle Jensen - LF
Kyle Skipworth - C
Carlos Paulino - DH
Chad Cregar - 1B
Brent Weaver - 3B
Sequoyah Stonecipher - RF
Jose Torres - 2B
Curtis Petersen - P

Jiwan James - CF
Leandro Castro - DH
Anthony Hewitt - LF
Sebastian Valle - C
Adam Buschini - 3B
Jeremy Barnes - 2B
Darin Ruf - 1B
Domingo Santana - RF
Jonathan Villar - SS
Jonathan Pettibone - P

I'm here in Lakewood to bear witness to the magnificent outfield that is James, Hewitt and Santana. That's three of the top prospects in the Phillies system, all patrolling the same swath of grass. This is a prospect watcher's dream. I'll be here tomorrow, too.

First inning: Pettibone starts the day with a walk to leadoff man Rand Smith, but is spared any damage when 17-year-old right fielder Domingo Santana makes two fantastic plays.

In the bottom half, Jiwan James walks on four pitches before being erased on Leandro Castro's fielder's choice. Castro steals second before Anthony Hewitt waves at a Curtis Petersen hook. Sebastian Valle is up next, and this is what he does:

Inning over.

Second inning: Greensboro scores on a double from Brent Weaver that brings home Carlos Paulino. Pettibone gets a pair of grounders back to the mound to extricate himself from further trouble.

The BlueClaws followed by exploding for six runs, including two on bases-loaded walks to Jonathan Villar and Jiwan James, and three more on a single to left from Anthony Hewitt that was fumbled a bit by Jensen. 6-1 Claws after two innings.

Third inning: Pettibone gets the Grasshoppers 1-2-3, including a popout off the bat of Kyle Skipworth. Domingo Santana's fielder's choice plates another for the Claws, who now lead 7-1.

Fourth and Fifth innings: As team photographer David Schofield points out, Jon Pettibone is clearly a different pitcher with a lead. He's retired the side in the last two frames with just two walks and a hit. After five, it's still 7-1 Claws.

Sixth inning: Santana reaches on an infield single, but is caught stealing by Skipworth, who has an absolute hose behind the plate. That proves costly when Villar smacks a ground-rule double into the corner. Jiwan James bounces into a fielder's choice to end the frame and keep it 7-1 Claws.

Seventh inning: Jiwan James makes a FANTASTIC catch in center. He went full-extension to rob a Greensboro of a sure double.

Lakewood also goes quietly, with Sebastian Valle fanning to end the frame.

Eighth inning: Greensboro goes quietly in its half, ended when Siulman Lebron freezes Carlos Paulino on a 90-mph fastball on the black.

After a two-out single from Darin Ruf, Santana fans to end the eighth. Claws three outs from a win.

Ninth inning: Jordan Ellis gives up three in the ninth, but recovered to keep the Grasshoppers off the board and put a win in the books.

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Once again, Thunder rained out

Looks like the Thunder will escape Casey Kelly, although I'm sure Tony Franklin is not pleased that his rotation has been thrown into a bit of a tizzy. Just based on tomorrow's forecast on, it looks doubtful there will be baseball tomorrow, either.

If it is, however, a doubleheader is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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Around the System - Day 9

Triple-A: Postponed

Double-A: Postponed

High-A: Tampa 8, Daytona 4
Brandon Braboy, starting in place of Manny Banuelos, who is recovering from an appendectomy, tossed four innings of one-run ball before handing the game to Craig Heyer, Pat Venditte and Phil Bartleski. In a rare bout of ineffectiveness, Venditte got touched for three runs in 2 1/3 innings. He did strike out five in that time, moving his season total to 13 in 7 1/3 innings. Corban Joseph, Neil Medchill, Trent Lockwood, Mitch Abeita Melky Mesa each doubled in the win. Mesa and Myron Leslie had a pair of RBIs apiece.
Box score

Low-A: Augusta 5, Charleston 2
Jose Ramirez fanned nine Greenjackets in 5 1/3 innings, but Michael Solbach couldn't hold the lead. Kyle Higashioka and Luke Murton each homered for the RiverDogs. Zoilo Almonte stole a base in the loss.
Box score

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Thunder game postponed

Here's the team's press release: The game between the Thunder and the Sea Dogs scheduled for this evening at Hadlock Field has been postponed due to rain. The game has been rescheduled for May 22nd, as part of a double-header.

The Thunder and Sea Dogs continue their series tomorrow from Hadlock Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00

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My upcoming schedule (potentially)

While the Thunder are on the road, I have to find a way to fill my time (and this blog) with relevant coverage. So, with that in mind, here's what I have planned for the rest of the month when (a) the team is out of town, or (b) I'm not covering.

Tomorrow and Sunday: I'll be in Lakewood to watch the BlueClaws take on the Greensboro Grasshoppers. I'll be on the look out for Claws outfielders Domingo Santana, Jiwan James and Anthony Hewitt, as well as Greensboro catcher Kyle Skipworth. Baseball America ranks Santana and James as the No. 10 and 11 prospects in the system, respectively. Baseball Prospectus has James at 7 and Santana at 9.

BA ranks Skipworth at the Marlins' 7th-best prospect; BP has him at No. 9.
Wednesday: This could be a double-duty day. I'm definitely headed up to Harrisburg in the morning to see Stephen Strasburg (perhaps you've heard of him) face Yohan Flande and the Reading Phillies. After seeing Phillippe Aumont on Wednesday, Flande will complete my viewing of the two best prospects the R-Phils' rotation has to offer. Also, the thought of Strasburg facing Domonic Brown is tantalizing to say the least.

Then, if I'm feeling up to the drive, I'll head down to Wilmington, Del. to see the Blue Rocks take on the Kinston Indians. The matchup that night pits Alex White, Cleveland's first-rounder last year, against the Chris Dwyer, Kansas City's fourth-round selection in 2009. Wilmington also has slugging first baseman Eric Hosmer in its lineup, so that would sweeten the deal.

Saturday: I'm headed up to New York's Hospital for Special Surgery to hear presentations about platelet-rich plasma therapy, rotator-cuff surgery and Tommy John surgery. These are relevant to the Thunder for a couple of reasons. Alan Horne is scheduled to undergo PRP therapy in lieu of rotator-cuff surgery, and Christian Garcia may need to have a second TJ surgery.

Sweetening the deal is the fact that the TJ presentation is being given by Dr. David Altchek, the man who would perform Garcia's operation if he needs one. In any case, Garcia will meet with Altchek on Monday in New York.

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Afternoon Links

On the strength of Damon Sublett's longball, the Thunder topped the Portland Sea Dogs last night, 4-2, in 11 innings. Tomorrow they face top Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly. Here's a link to a story done by the Portland Press-Herald's Sea Dogs beat writer, Kevin Thomas.

Kelly, the son of former MLB infielder Pat Kelly, is concentrating on being a pitcher after spending last season working from the mound and as a shortstop. He's on a pitch count, and he will be when he comes to Trenton on April 22. That game will be covered by Mike Ashmore.

Also, here's a link to Baseball America's first Hot Sheet of the season. The list features former Eastern Leaguers Carlos Santana (Akron) and Brad Mills (New Hampshire), future Eastern Leaguers Travis D'Arnaud (New Hampshire) and Jacob Turner (Erie), and current Eastern Leaguer Luis Perez (New Hampshire).

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Around the System - Day 8

Triple-A: Syracuse 14, Scranton 6
Romulo Sanchez had one of the worst days in the history of PNC Field, allowing 10 earned run on 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings pitched. Chad Huffman went 3-for-4 with 2 runs, 2 doubles and an RBI. He also threw out a runner at the plate. Kevin Russo, Colin Curtis and Greg Golson each had a double apiece.
Box score

Double-A: Trenton 4, Portland 2, 11 innings
Damon Sublett's second two-run homer in as many nights drove home the deciding scores in this thriller. Jeremy Bleich was solid if not spectacular, but Wilkin De La Rosa stole the show from the mound. With the score tied, the left-hander spun three perfect innings before handing the ball to Eric Wordekemper in the tenth. For his part, Wordekemper fanned three over two innings and picked up the win.
Box score

High-A: Daytona 2, Tampa 1
Adam Warren gave fanned three in five innings of two-run ball but still picked up the loss. Dan Kapala and Trenton Lare added four one-hit innings of relief. Catcher Myron Leslie got the lone RBI in the win, and Melky Mesa scored the run.
Box score

Low-A: Charleston 6, West Virginia 4
DeAngelo Mack had a two-run triple and scored twice, and the RiverDogs quieted the Power. Taylor Grote, Zoilo Almonte and Mack each stole a base. Sean Black gave up four runs in as many innings in the win. Ben Watkins (the winner), Francisco Rondon and Ryan Flannery combined for five shutout frames.
Box score

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Random Pics from Spring Training and Regular Season

Pictures are as follows: Top Row - Jeremy Bleich, David Phelps. Second Row - Tommy Phelps and Cory Arbiso; Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez. Third Row - Ryan Pope, Grant Duff.

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Some More Multimedia from Drabek vs. Aumont

Series in Preview: Thunder vs. Portland

Dates: April 15-18
Where: Hadlock Field
Thursday: Jeremy Bleich (1-0, 0.00) vs. Kyle Weiland (0-1, 7.20) 6:00 p.m.
Friday: David Phelps (1-0, 1.59) vs. Stephen Fife (0-0, 3.60) 6:00 p.m.
Saturday: D.J. Mitchell (0-1, 9.82) vs. Casey Kelly ( 0-0, 0.00) 1:00 p.m.
Sunday: Lance Pendleton (1-1, 7.71) vs. Felix Doubront (1-0, 2.00) 1:00 p.m.

Thunder: Bleich and Phelps each looked excellent in their first starts. The duo combined for 12 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run and 12 strikeouts. Still, it's become pretty clear that Erie is a little bit of a pushover. The SeaWolves are 0-7 and have scored just 10 runs. Bleich and Phelps will be tested a little bit more by Portland, which has hit a league-leading eight home runs over a 4-3 start. ... David Adams has hit safely in every game and is hitting .481.

Sea Dogs
: Top prospects Che-Husan Lin, Jose Iglesias and Luis Exposito are each hitting .300 or better; Lin and Exposito have gone deep. ... Lefty Felix Doubront, who faced the Thunder three times last year, has eight strikeouts in nine innings. ... Lin has three stolen bases in as many chances. ... Casey Kelly threw 50 pitches in two innings during his Double-A debut on April 12. He gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings but got a no-decision.

Notes: David Phelps and Stephen Fife, Friday's starters, faced each other on May 30 last year. Greenville won, 3-1, but neither pitcher figured in the decision. ... Dan Brewer and David Adams faced Fife in that game, going a combined 1-for-7. Brewer had the hit, a single. ... Jeremy Bleich has faced Portland once in his career. He faced Doubront on July 16,

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Series in Review - Thunder vs. Akron

RESULT: Akron 2, Thunder 1
Monday: Akron 4, Thunder 2
Tuesday: Akron 5, Thunder 1
Wednesday: Thunder 4, Akron 3

Key to the Series: Timely hitting. Except for Wednesday's game, the Thunder just couldn't come up in the clutch. The team was just 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position, the lone knock being Austin Krum's two-run single that gave the Thunder the eventual win in the series finale.

Honorable Mention: David Adams extended his hitting streak to seven games. Overall, Adams is hitting .481 (12-for-25) this season

Notes: Grant Duff has appeared in five of the seven games so far. ... The Thunder have just three home runs (Luis Nunez, David Adams and Damon Sublett) but have allowed only one (Beau Mills)

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Early afternoon links

Riding a smart play from Reid Gorecki, a bomb from Damon Sublett and a timely hit from Austin Krum, the Thunder came back and topped the Akron Aeros yesterday, 4-3. The win puts Trenton at a neat 5-2 heading to Portland, instead of 4-3.

Grant Duff appeared in his fifth game of the season and picked up his second save. This feature talks about just how at ease Duff feels as a reliever compared to his starting days, when he says he felt uncomfortable.

The Thunder take on Kyle Weiland and the Sea Dogs tonight at Hadlock Field before getting the meat of Portland's rotation (Casey Kelly, Stephen Fife and Felix Doubront for the rest of the series)

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Around the System - Day 7

Triple-A: Scranton 1, Syracuse 0
The Yankees' bullpen starred in this thriller. Amauri Sanit, Royce Ring and Mark Melancon combined for five innings of two-hit baseball in relief of Zach McAllister, who lasted just four innings because of a high pitch total. Greg Golson's home run in the fifth inning accounted for the lone tally. Jesus Montero had three hits and raised his batting average to .321.
Box score

Double-A: Thunder 4, Akron 3
Damon Sublett hit a two-run homer and Austin Krum's single scored two more runs as Trenton outlasted the Aeros and salvaged the series. Scott Barnes no-hit the Thunder for five innings, but Bryan Price cracked after an inning. John Van Benschoten picked up the win and Grant Duff notched his second save.
Box score

High-A: Clearwater 7, Tampa 3
Andrew Brackman got messed up once again, allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits and a walk in just four innings. His ERA is now 13.50. Trent Lockwood had two hits and an RBI, and Melky Mesa also drove in a run. Abraham Almonte had a double in the loss. Craig Heyer, Phil Bartleski and Tim Norton allowed two hits and a walk in four innings of relief.
Box score

Low-A: West Virginia 2, Charleston 0
Graham Stoneburner was stellar (6 2/3 innings, 2 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO) but still took the loss. He was outpitched by Nathan Baker, the Pirates' fifth-round choice last year. DeAngelo Mack had a double, and Garrison Lassiter had two hits in the loss.
Box score

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Clash of the Fightin's: Drabek vs. Aumont - live from Reading (Now with video)

After leaving the Waterfront Park at around 2:00, I wrote my game story and sidebar, got in the car and headed toward the Pennsylvania Turnpike to watch Phillippe Aumont and the Reading Phillies take on Kyle Drabek and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

I got lots of pics and video before the game, which I will post when I get chance. For now, I'll just treat this like a standard live blog. That said, here are your lineups:

Fisher Cats
CF - Mastroianni
LF - Calderone
1B - Cooper
3B - Emaus
DH - Thames
RF - Loewen
SS - Diaz
C - Jeroloman
2B -Sanchez

CF - Gillies
SS - Galvis
RF - Brown
DH - Bozied
1B - Mahar
3B - Pinckney
2B - Dorta
LF - Spidale
C - Nelson

First inning: Aumont gives up back-to-back singles to Darin Mastroianni and Adam Calderone. Mastroianni stole a base in the middle and scored on Calderone's hit. Brad Emaus gave a ball a ride that was caught at the wall in left field. All in all, Aumont looked a little shaky.
Fisher Cats 1, R-Phils 0

In the bottom half, Tyson Gillies, who can absolutely fly, tripled off of Drabek.
Freddy Galvis promptly drove him home with a single.
Fisher Cats 1, R-Phils 1

Second inning: This is not turning out to be the pitchers' duel one would have hoped for. Aumont gave up another run in the second, this one coming courtesy of three straight hits from Adam Loewen, Jonathan Diaz and Brian Jeroloman.

Drabek gives the lead right back though, on a sacrifice fly to center from Michael Spidale.
Fisher Cats 2, R-Phils 2

Third inning:
Now this is more like it. Aumont fanned two men in the top of the inning. The pitch was so nasty on David Cooper that, after the ump rang him up, he complained a little too loudly and got ejected.

In the bottom half, Drabek dispatched of Tyson Gillies on three pitches, then got Freddy Galvis and Domonic Brown to pop to shortstop.

Fourth inning:
Aumont appears to be settling in. He got Thames, Loewen and Diaz quickly on a fly to center and groundouts to second and short.

Drabek gave up a two-out bomb to Brandon Pinckney, but coaxed a flyout from Melvin Dorta to end the inning.

Fisher Cats 3, R-Phils 2

Fifth inning:
Phew! That was a long one. Aumont caught a case of wildness and allowed the tying run to score on a wild pitch after getting two quick outs.

Drabek retired the Phillies 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

Fisher Cats 3, R-Phils 3

Sixth inning:
Aumont got the first two outs, then lost the strike zone and was replaced by Matt German, who fanned the only man he faced.

Drabek, however, lost it. He gave up a long sacrifice fly to Kevin Mahar and then allowed a three-run double to Michael Spidale.
R-Phils 7, Fisher Cats 3

Both pitchers are out now, so I'm going to focus on uploading video. Thanks for playing along.

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A vast array of D.J, Mitchell's side session

Here are few shots from D.J. Mitchell's side session today, including my first time getting a ball mid-flight.

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