Every Tuesday, Minor Matters will run down the top 10 players from the Thunder's 2010 season. In a year that saw eight of Baseball America's 16 pitchers (excluding Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino, who were out of the organization) in their top 30, not to mention Austin Romine and Brandon Laird, there were plenty of good choices to go around.
No. 4 Austin Romine
Why he's here: More than his numbers, which were solid at the very least, Romine was important for the way he handled the staff. Throughout the season, while a plethora of talented, high-ceiling arms marched through Waterfront Park, Romine was a rock behind the dish.
In the final game of the Eastern League Division Series, he guided Manny Banuelos, whom he had caught just three times in 2010, to easily the best start of the career. To a man, each and every Thunder hurler credited Romine, in part, for their success.
As for the individual numbers, they weren't bad, especially for a guy who -- although he won't admit it -- was gassed after catching his first full load as a professional.
He put up a .268/.324/.726 slash line, with 31 doubles, 10 longballs and 69 RBIs. He even swiped a pair of bases in as many tries.
He did show weaknesses behind the dish, but they weren't close to fatal flaws. He caught just 23 percent of runners and permitted six passed balls. Every scout I've spoken to loves him defensively -- one threw out a Brad Ausmus (with a better bat) comp -- and sees him as a major league regular.
Outlook for 2011: This is where it gets tricky. With the Yankees signing Russell Martin to be the starting catcher, Jesus Montero, who was presumed to get a good chunk of the reps this year, may get pushed back to Scranton for more seasoning, especially with the glove.
If that happens, expect Romine to begin the year back in Trenton, where he belongs. He should see Triple-A at some point in 2011, though.
Labels: Austin Romine, Top Ten Players of the Year, Trenton Thunder