Blogs > Minor Matters

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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Around the System - July 30

Triple-A: Scranton 2, Norfolk 1

Ivan Nova: 7 1/3, 9 H, R, 0 ER, BB, 4 SO
Jesus Montero: 0-for-3, R
Jorge Vazquez: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Chad Huffman: 2-for-3
Box score

Double-A: New Hampshire 10, Trenton 3

Austin Krum: 2-for-5, 2B
Austin Romine: 2-for-5
Brandon Laird: 2-for-5, 2B
Dan Brewer: 2-for-5, 2B, 2 R
Hector Noesi: 3 1/3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO
Box score

Charlotte 9, Tampa 6

Jose Pirela: 2-for-4
Melky Mesa: 2-for-5, R
Jack Rye: 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Walter Ibarra: 2-for-4, 2B, R
Graham Stoneburner: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO
Box score

Low-A: Charleston 6, Greenville 5

J.R. Murphy: 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB
Francisco Santana: 2-for-4, 2 R, RBI
Luke Murton: 1-for-4, 2B, R
Emerson Landoni: 1-for-3, R, BB
Jose Ramirez: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, BB, 5 SO
Box score

Short Season: Connecticut 7, Staten Island 1

Casey Stevenson: 2-for-4
Kevin Mahoney: 2-for-4
Garrison Lassiter: 2-for-4
Kelvin De Leon: 0-for-3, BB, R
Box score

Gulf Coast League: Yankees 11, Phillies 7

Damon Sublett: 2-for-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI
Cito Culver: 1-for-4, R, BB
Ramon Flores: 2-for-5, 2 R, RBI
Kelvin Duran: 2-for-3, 2 R, RBI, BB
Fu-Lin Kuo: 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI
Box score

Dominican Summer League 1: Yankees 3, Giants 1; Yankees 3, Giants 2
(Hitters stats combined)

Eladio Moronta: 2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI
Yamiel Orozco: 2-for-3
Yeicok Calderon: 1-for-5, 2B, R, 2 BB
Ericson Leonora: 1-for-5, RBI
Elio De La Rosa: 2-for-5, 2B
Box score 1
Box score 2

Dominican Summer League 2: Yankees 14, Pirates 5

Ravel Santana: 2-for-5, 3 R, RBI, BB
Gian Arias: 1-for-4, 2B, 4 RBI, BB
Guillermo Matos: 2-for-5, 3 R, 2 2B, BB
Ali Castillo: 2-for-3, 3 R, 3 BB, RBI
Box score

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Yanks close to landing Berkman from Astros

As has been reported by multiple sources, the Yankees are on the verge of landing OF/1B Lance Berkman from Houston. The two players involved haven't been named so far, but when they do, you'll know where to look.

The lineup today:

Christian - LF
Krum - CF
Romine - C
Laird - 3B
Brewer - RF
Vechionacci - 1B
Cusick - DH
Nunez - SS
Snyder 2B
Noesi - P

Stay tuned for any changes.

6:34: Jimmy Paredes has been scratched from the lineup in Charleston. That's weird, considering they just landed a speedy shortstop from the Phillies for Oswalt. Also, Kevin Russo is not in Scranton's lineup.

Russo and Paredes is an interesting package for sure. Pretty darn cheap, but that's apparently how the Astros work these days.

6:46: Here's video of Jimmy Paredes, one of the players who seems to be headed Houston's way. He's only there for one pitch against Lakewood's Brody Colvin, but it's what I have.

9:11 The New York Post is now reporting that Mark Melancon, not Kevin Russo, is in the deal for Berkman. Nice kid, that Melancon, but certainly expendable.

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Around the System: July 29

Triple-A: Scranton 7, Norfolk 1

Eric Bruntlett: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R
Eduardo Nunez: 2-for-3, 2 R, BB
Jesus Montero: 1-for-3, HR, Sac Fly, 4 RBI
Jorge Vazquez: 2-for-4, 2B, R
Reegie Corona: 2-for-4, RBI
Jason Hirsh: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 SO
Box score

Double-A: Trenton 3, New Hampshire 1

Brandon Laird: 3-for-4
Austin Krum: 1-for-4, RBI
Austin Romine: 1-for-4, HR
Luis Nunez: 1-for-3, 3B, R
Justin Snyder: 1-for-2, 2B, R, RBI, BB
Lance Pendleton: 6 IP, 4 H, R, ER, BB, 6 SO
Box score

High-A: Tampa 10, Charlotte 1

Melky Mesa: 4-for-5, 3B, 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, 2 SB
Jose Gil: 3-for-4, 2B, R, RBI
Zoilo Almonte: 1-for-3, R, RBI
Shaeffer Hall: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO
Box score

Low-A: Charleston 4, Greenville 3

Slade Heathcott: 1-for-5
J.R. Murphy: 2-for-3, 2B, R, BB
Rob Lyerly: 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Luke Murton: 2-for-4
Neil Medchill: 2-for-3, HR, BB
DeAngelo Mack: 2-for-3, BB
Box score

Short Season: Staten Island 6, Connecticut 3

Luis Parache: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Kyle Roller: 2-for-4, R
Jose Mojica: 2-for-4, 2B, R
Kelvin De Leon: 1-for-4, RBI
Box score

Gulf Coast League: Yankees 6, Tigers 3

Cito Culver: 1-for-4, HR
Henry Pena: 1-for-3, BB, R
Anderson Feliz: 2-for-4, 3B, R
Fu-Lin Kuo: 1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI
Box score

Dominican Summer League 1: Yankees 14, Orioles 1

Elio De La Rosa: 3-for-5, 2 R, 2B, 3B, 4 RBI
Daniel Lopez: 2-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI
Edwin Beard: 3-for-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI
Claudio Custodio: 2-for-3, 2 R, 2B
Jose Pena: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 SO
Box score

Dominican Summer League 2: Blue Jays 3, Yankees 1

Gian Arias: 2-for-4
Francisco Duran: 1-for-4, 2B, R
Melvin Mercedes: 5 IP, H, R, ER, 2 BB, 5 SO
Box score

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sky's the limit for Van Mil

TRENTON – At 7-foot-1, Van Mil, a Dutch-born reliever who signed with the Twins, is the tallest player in baseball history. Over the last year or so, however, he’s also been one of the unluckiest.

He was selected for the 2009 Summer Olympics, but an injury suffered when Team Netherlands’ off-day plans were derailed cost him a chance for national pride.

“We were supposed to go to the Great Wall, but there was some kind of circuit set out for cyclists or something, so we decided to practice that day and do the Great Wall another day,” Van Mil recalled. “During that practice, something popped in my elbow and it ended up being a torn ligament.”

The tear not only wiped out his Olympic dreams, but also put the kibosh on playing for Team Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. As it turned out, the Dutch pulled one of the young tournament’s great upsets by ousting the Dominican Republic, of the game’s great international powers, from competition.

To put in perspective the vastness between the countries’ respective proclivities for the sport, one doesn’t need to look far. The Thunder’s roster has three Dominican-born players – Hector Noesi, Wilkin De La Rosa and Wilkins Arias. By contrast, just seven people from the Netherlands have cracked a big league roster.

So it should come as no surprise that, despite the hullabaloo it caused on this continent, the win in the WBC was treated as no big deal in Van Mil’s home.

“Nobody really cared,” Van Mil said. “It wasn’t big news in Holland. … I was rehabbing in Fort Myers, and I remember talking to people back home who were saying ‘Yeah, it was in the news, but nobody knows what it means.’”

One of the players on the team that dethroned the Dominicans last season is Sharlon Schoop, an infielder San Francisco’s system who has spent time with Van Mil in the Eastern League. In fact, the pair was supposed to play in last year’s World Cup, but once again Van Mil was kept out of competition.

This time, however, it wasn’t injury, but the mere threat of injury that caused the Twins to keep him off the field.

“We were supposed to play in the World Cup last year. He went to Holland, I went to Holland, but our coach decided it was too big of a risk to play me because of the risk of injury (even though) I was fine, so that was weird.

“They flew me back to Holland two weeks before the season ended. I missed the playoffs (with the Rock Cats), and the coach says ‘We’re not playing you because we think you’re going to get injured.”

The numbers are not good for Van Mil this season. He’s walked 15 in 27 1/3 innings, and has posted a ghastly 7.57 ERA in between stops at Fort Myers and New Britain. Still, with his unprecedented height advantage, coupled with a mid-90s fastball, the sky is the limit.

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Walk-off Walk powers Thunder

TRENTON – After watching reliever Billy Bullock pitch the ninth inning against the Thunder yesterday, the initials BB seemed very fitting.

Bullock, who looked very good over the final two outs of the eighth, walked four batters – one intentionally – and in the process handed Trenton a 3-2 victory and a sweep of the New Britain Rock Cats at Waterfront Park.

“If we were going to do it, that’s the way we had to do it,” manager Tony Franklin said. “Fortunately we came through.”

As the manager alluded to, the Thunder weren’t doing much in the way of offense before the ninth. Against Kyle Gibson, New Britain’s starter and the Twins’ first-round pick in 2009, they collected just four hits, all singles, over the first six innings.

Yesterday was the second time Gibson handcuffed Trenton’s offense. He allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings when the teams met last month at New Britain Stadium.

Trenton’s starter D.J, Mitchell, however, nearly matched Gibson, and would have completed the task were it not for a costly miscue on the infield.

In the fifth, with Steve Singleton on first and one out, third baseman Brandon Laird muffed Tobias Streich’s grounder. The ball ricocheted off Laird’s glove and deep enough into left-center field that Singleton was able to advance to third.

A Mitchell wild pitch – one of three on the afternoon – and a Ben Revere triple shortly thereafter made it 2-0 New Britain, which, with the weak swings the Thunder taking against Gibson, looked like a mighty tall hill to climb.

Still, Mitchell kept his team in the game for two more innings before handing the ball to Cory Arbiso and Kevin Whelan for the eighth and ninth.

Since returning from the All-Star break, the Clemson-bred sinkerballer has been impressive. Over 20 innings, he’s allowed just six earned runs and has walked only one.

“Things are finally starting to click,” Mitchell said. “I’m just going to try to keep it up. Hopefully I’ll continue it throughout the rest of the year.”

The Rock Cats kept their slim edge until the ninth, when Bullock, who had gotten the last two outs of the eighth, began his attempt to shut down the heart of the Thunder’s order.

Austin Romine, who, with five hits in his last 12 at-bats, appears to be emerging from his slight funk of late, led off the ninth pushing a Bullock offering through the hole between first and second.

Laird followed with the first walk of the inning before Marcos Vechionacci’s double split the right-center field gap and brought Romine home. The Rock Cats then chose to issue an intentional walk to Matt Cusick to set up a possible double play.

Then Bullock lost whatever little command he might have had entering the ninth. He walked Edwar Gonzalez on four pitches to bring home the tying run. When he did the same to Luis Nunez, the game was over.

With the sweep, the Thunder stay hot entering today’s beginning of a four-game set with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, who trail Trenton by just 1 ½ games in the Eastern League East.

“This win today didn’t hurt us at all. A little momentum going into tomorrow doesn’t hurt us at all,” Franklin said.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Another Andrew Brackman video BONANZA

Here are three videos of Brackman pitching during last night's 6-0 Thunder win, and one of his brief postgame chat with reporters.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

The Untouchables

Potential Yankees trade targets Cliff Lee and Dan Haren are already off the board, but top arms like Roy Oswalt, Ted Lilly, and possibly Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria (!) are still out there. That's to say nothing of premier bats like Adam Dunn, Derrek Lee and Ross.

With that in mind, the organization has a stable of prospects from which to deal. So, fair readers, who do you think the Yankees should keep at all costs, championship No. 28 be damned. Here, in no particular order, are some of the candidates:

1. Jesus Montero - C - 20 years old

This season: .274/.350/.812 23 2B, 10 HRs, 43 RBIs

Why the Yankees should keep him: The bat is the best in the system in a very long time, possibly since Derek Jeter, and maybe even better than that. He raked at every level before getting off to a slow start in Triple-A this season. Over his last ten games, however, the Venezuelan is hitting .469/.541/1.416 with three longballs and six RBIs.

2. Austin Romine - C - 21 years old

This season:
.273/.347/.755, 6 HRs, 49 RBIs
Why the Yankees should keep him: The consensus is that Romine is a far better defensive catcher and a more all-around talent than Montero. Jorge Posada is getting no younger, and the next wave of catching talent (J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez) is a ways away. Additionally, the only true star catcher New York could have hoped to snap up in free agency, Joe Mauer, is off the market.

Manny Banuelos - LHP - 19 years old

This season: 0-1, 1.27 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 39 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings

Why the Yankees should keep him: The brass raves about Banuelos, talking about his poise as much as his pure stuff. He's one of the few left-handed pitching prospects in the system, and has displayed three plus pitches in High-A. Were it not for a preseason appendectomy, Banuelos would more than likely be in Trenton already.

4. Dellin Betances - RHP - 22 years old

This season: 5-1, 1.60 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 52 strikeouts in 45 innings

Why the Yankees should keep him: He's coming off arm surgery, and is just beginning to scratch the surface of the potential New York saw when it took him in the eighth round four drafts ago. When healthy, he flashes a high-90s heater and a devastating breaking pitch. The velo, combined with his age, might make the Yankees want to dig in their claws for the long haul.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

A longer conversation with J.R. Murphy

The Charleston RiverDogs came into New Jersey for a four-game set with the Lakewood BlueClaws last week, and with them came J.R. Murphy, the Yankees’ second-round pick in 2009.

Murphy is one of the team’s second wave of catching prospects behind Jesus Montero and Thunder backstop Austin Romine that also includes RiverDog teammate Kyle Higashioka, Gulf Coast League wunderkind Gary Sanchez and 2010 draftee Tyler Austin.

Murphy spoke with The Trentonian before the third game of the series. Here’s what he said:

JN: How do you think your first professional season is going?

JM: I think it’s going well. I think the adjustment’s been pretty good. I like the way we’re doing the catching thing — two on, two off with me and (Higashioka) — I think that’s helped the transition a lot.

JN: This is a system that is stocked with catchers. Do you envision yourself staying at that position, or perhaps moving away from the dish at some point?

JM: I love catching, so that’s what I’ll do until they tell me I can’t. There is a lot of great catchers here, but I think that helps me. I learn a lot from them.
Spring training, I talked to them a lot, got feedback from them on a lot of things. Like I said though, I can’t control them and I can’t control their years and what not, so I’ve just got to keep going about my business.

JN: Specifically, who did you talk to about catching?

Montero a lot last year in spring training, I talked to Monty a lot. Romine, talked to him during instructs — he was getting ready for the fall league — talked to him a lot.
Even Higgy this year, learning how to handle pitchers and stuff like that.

JN: Being from Bradenton, did that make your first big league spring training a little bit easier of a transition?

JM: Definitely. We had Sundays off, so I would go home every Saturday night and spend the day with my family. I’m real close with my family, so that was a lot easier than having to go out to Arizona or something like that, with one of those teams.
I met a lot of good guys here, so I didn’t have a problem staying up in Tampa a lot. Definitely being close to home was definitely a plus.

JN: You’re a product of The Pendleton School, which is known for being a bit of an athlete factory. What was it like going to a school where you job is becoming a better baseball player?

JM: I talked to a lot of high school draftees here, and I definitely get a different view of high school than they do.
A lot of guys probably played multiple sports through high school, but I was fortunate enough to go there just play all year long. I think that made the adjustment to pro ball a lot easier, too. It’s just playing every day.

Obviously it’s different when you’re playing games like this every day and traveling, but I think I definitely have an edge on a lot of the high school drafts because of the coaching I had there and playing every day.

JN: Was there a summer or winter break, or was it baseball 24/7?

JM: We had the normal Christmas break and stuff, but as far as baseball goes, we’re practicing every day in the fall and playing every day in the spring.

JN: You call your own game behind the plate. At what point did you learn how to do that?

JM: They want us all to do that. The catching coordinator, Julio Mosquera, he’s pretty big on that, and I know (Yankees manager Joe) Girardi is). That probably stems down from him.
I think as long as you start learning from a young age, I think it’ll help as it grows. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ll second guess myself on pitches all the time, but that’s part of the learning process.

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A short conversation with Slade Heathcott

The Charleston RiverDogs came into New Jersey for a four-game set with the Lakewood BlueClaws last week, and with them came Slade Heathcott, the Yankees’ first-round pick in 2009.

Heathcott, a high school outfielder from Texas, is projected as a five-tool player and the Yankees’ eventual center fielder once Curtis Granderson ages to the point where he can no longer play the position.

Heathcott spoke with The Trentonian before the third game of the series. Here’s what he said:

JN: How do you think your first pro season is going?

SH: It’s going pretty good. I need a little work at the plate at times. I’m a young hitter, I need to learn how to slow the game down a little bit better. I get into rushes and just try to speed through things instead of slowing it down and handling it the right way, so I need to work on that.

JN: Is there a bit of culture shock coming directly from high school into a professional system with all the expectations of a first-round pick?

SH: Not that I’ve felt yet. I’m friends with most of the older guys and get along with the younger guys, too. Me and (catcher J.R.) Murphy are good friends. I’m roommates with (Rob) Lyerly and (Ben) Watkins and (Luke) Murton, so I’m surrounded by older people – I kind’ve like it. It makes you mature a little faster and things like that, so no, I haven’t felt a culture shock.

JN: Not even with life on the road, as compared to high school?

SH: It is. It’s a lot different traveling every day. It’s a lot different when you have a bad night and you’re out there the next day. That’s another thing I’ve got to work on, just realizing that you play this game every day, and if you have a bad day, turn it into a good day the next.

JN: What do you want to do over the rest of this season?

SH: First of all, I just want to play hard every day. I want to play harder than everyone else, that’s always been my goal. That’s just the way I play, so that’d be the first goal. The second goal is just try to figure things out, try to mature as a player and mature at the plate, learn my swing a little better, learn swing situations, and stay calm.

JN: When you got picked, was there any question you’d sign?

SH: I was 90-95 percent sure I was signing, I just didn’t know when. When they drafted me, they told me that it was going to be later if I was going to sign. I had a good idea I was signing.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Around the System - July 23

Triple-A: Rochester 5, Scranton 4

Reegie Corona: 2-for-3, 2B, R, BB
Eduardo Nunez: 2-for-4, R, RBI
Chad Tracy: 3-for-4, 2 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Chad Huffman: 1-for-4, 2B, RBI
David Phelps: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
Box score

Double-A: Trenton 8, Altoona 3

Justin Christian: 2-for-4, R, SB
Brandon Laird: 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, BB
Dan Brewer: 1-for-2, 2 R, 3 BB
Edwar Gonzalez: 2-for-3, 2B, R, 3 RBI, 2 BB
D.J. Mitchell: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO
Box score

High-A: Tampa 3, Palm Beach 0

Brad Suttle: 3-for-4, 2B, 3B, RBI, R
Zoilo Almonte: 2-for-4, 2 2B, R, RBI
Corban Joseph: 1-for-4, BB
Shaeffer Hall: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 0 SO
Box score

Low-A: Lakewood 1, Charleston 0

Francisco Santana: 2-for-4
Jimmy Paredes: 1-for-3, BB, SB
Rob Lyerly: 1-for-4
Sean Black: 7 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 8 SO
Box score

Short Season: Brooklyn 12, Staten Island 7

Kyle Roller: 2-for-5, 2 R, SB
Garrison Lassiter: 2-for-4, RBI
Shane Brown: 2-for-4, HR, 4 RBI
Jose Mojica: 1-for-4, R
Box score

Gulf Coast League: Yankees 13, Braves 7

Cito Culver: 2-for-5, R, RBI
Anderson Felix: 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Ramon Flores: 2-for-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, RBI
Kelvin Duran: 3-for-4, R, RBI
Jose Toussen: 1-for-3, HR, 2 R
Box score

Dominican Summer League 1: PPD

Dominican Summer League 2: PPD

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Around the System - July 22

Triple-A: Gwinnett 5, Scranton 2

Eduardo Nunez: 2-for-3, R, BB, SB
Jesus Montero: 1-for-4, 2B
Jorge Vazquez: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Zach McAllister: 5 1/3 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO
Box score

Double-A: Trenton 8, Altoona 3

Justin Christian: 1-for-4, 2 R, SB
Austin Romine: 1-for-5, RBI
Brandon Laird: 1-for-4, HR
Dan Brewer: 3-for-4, R, 2 2B, 3 RBI
Luis Nunez: 3-for-4, R
Adam Warren: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 5 SO
Box score

High-A: Tampa 4, Palm Beach 3

Zoilo Almonte: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R
Trent Lockwood: 3-for-4, 2B, RBI
Brad Suttle: 1-for-4, HR
Dellin Betances: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO
Box score

Low-A: Lakewood 10, Charleston 1

Luke Murton: 2-for-4, RBI
Neil Medchill: 2-for-4
Kelvin Castro: 1-for-3, R
Josh Romanski: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO
Box score

Short Season: Hudson Valley 7, Staten Island 4

Kelvin De Leon: 1-for-4, RBI, BB
Kevin Mahoney: 2-for-5, HR
Francisco Arcia: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Michael Ferraro: 2-for-5, 2B
Box score

Gulf Coast League: Blue Jays 5, Yankees 4

Cito Culver: 1-for-3, 2B, BB
Damian Taveras: 2-for-4, 2B, R, BB
Rey Nunez: 1-for-5, HR, 3 RBI
Ramon Flores: 0-for-4, BB, 2 R
Box score

Dominican Summer League 1: PPD

Dominican Summer League 2: PPD

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Video of Romanski and Murphy

Here are, from the top, two videos of Josh Romanski facing Jonathan Singleton, another of Romanski striking out Jiwan James, and one of J.R. Murphy singling against Trevor May.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Around the System - July 21

Triple-A: Gwinnett 3, Scranton 1

Jesus Montero: 3-for-3, 2B, RBI, BB
Kevin Russo: 2-for-4
Jorge Vazquez: 1-for-4
Tim Redding: 8 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 6 SO
Box score

Double-A: Richmond 4, Trenton 2

Justin Christian: 2-for-5, 2B
Marcos Vechionacci: 2-for-4
Dan Brewer: 1-for-4, R
Rene Rivera: 1-for-3, HR, BB
Andrew Brackman: 5 2/3 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO
Box score

High-A: Bradenton 3, Tampa 1

Jose Pirela: 2-for-4, R
Brad Suttle: 1-for-4
Melky Mesa: 1-for-4
Manny Banuelos: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO
Box score

Low-A: Charleston 5, Lakewood 4

Slade Heathcott: 2-for-5, 2B
Neil Medchill: 2-for-5, R, RBI
Luke Murton: 2-for-5, 2B, R
Kyle Higashioka: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, BB
DeAngelo Mack: 1-for-2, HR, 3 BB
Brett Marshall: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, BB, 7 SO
Box score

Staten Island: PPD

Gulf Coast League: Yankees 3, Blue Jays 1

Jose Toussen: 2-for-3, RBI
Judd Golsan: 2-for-3, 2B, R, RBI
Ramon Flores: 1-for-1, 2 BB
Connor Mullee: 3 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 4 SO
Box score

Dominican Summer League 1: Yankees 4, Orioles 1

Yeicok Calderon: 1-for-5, R, BB
Isaias Tejeda: 2-for-6, 2B, 2 RBI
Ericson Leonora: 2-for-3, 2B, BB
Jamiel Orozco: 2-for-6
Dawerd Cruz: 6 IP, 5 H, R 0 ER, BB, 4 SO
Box score

Dominican Summer League 2: Yankees 12, Pirates 4

Rafael Polo: 2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, BB
Sandy Brito: 2-for-4, 2 R, 3B, RBI, BB
Ravel Santana: 2-for-3, R, RBI, 2 BB
Mikeson Oliberto: 2-for-4, 2 R, HR
Box score

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Brett Marshall and Kelvin Perez

Here are a couple of videos of Charleston starter Brett Marshall, and one of reliever Kelvin Perez, who began the year as a starter.

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One inning. Nine RiverDogs.

From the top down, here are today's first-inning at-bats from: Slade Heathcott, J.R. Murphy, Jimmy Paredes, Neil Medchill, Luke Murton, Rob Lyerly, DeAngelo Mack, Kyle Higashioka and Kelvin Castro. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Around the System - July 20

Triple-A: Scranton 6, Gwinnett 1

Jesus Montero: 2-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB
Greg Golson: 2-for-3, 2B, RBI
Kevin Russo: 1-for-3, R, BB
Ivan Nova: 8 IP, 5 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 6 SO (was hitting 97)
Box score

Double-A: Richmond 8, Trenton 3

Justin Snyder: 1-for-4, 2B, R
Brandon Laird: 1-for-2, 2 BB
Matt Cusick: 1-for-4, 3B, RBI
Edwar Gonzalez: 2-for-2, HR, BB
Hector Noesi: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 4 SO
Box score

High-A: Tampa 6, Bradenton 2

Mitch Abeita: 3-for-4, HR
Melky Mesa: 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI
Jose Pirela: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI
Ray Kruml: 1-for-3, R, BB
Craig Heyer: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, SO
Box score

Low-A: Charleston 7, Lakewood 4

Slade Heathcott: 2-for-4, R
Francisco Santana: 1-for-1, R, 2B, 2 RBI
Jimmy Paredes: 4-for-5, 2B, 4 RBI
Kyle Higashioka: 3-for-5, R
Rob Lyerly: 2-for-5, R
Jose Ramirez: 6 IP, 3 H, R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO
Box score

Short Season: Hudson Valley 9, Staten Island 2

Eduardo Sosa: 2-for-5, 3B, R
Kelvin De Leon: 1-for-4, HR
Garrison Lassiter: 2-for-4
Matthew Jernstad: 3 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO
Box score

Gulf Coast League: Phillies 12, Yankees 5

Cito Culver: 0-for-4, 3 SO
Damian Taveras: 4-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 R
Jhorge Liccien: 1-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI
Box score

Dominican Summer League 1: PPD

Dominican Summer League 2: PPD

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J.R. Murphy Video

And, as the title says, here's some video of J.R. Murphy from last night:

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Jose Ramirez faces Jiwan James

More video from last night's RiverDogs/BlueClaws tilt:

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Jose Ramirez against Jonathan Singleton

Here's a couple of videos from last night's RiverDogs and BlueClaws action in Lakewood:

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Around the System - July 19

Triple-A: Gwinnett 6, Scranton 2

Jesus Montero: 3-for-3, 2B, R, BB
Jorge Vazquez: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Greg Golson: 1-for-3, 2B
Eric Bruntlett: 1-for-3, BB, SB
Box score

Double-A: Trenton 6, Richmond 0

Brandon Laird: 2-for-4
Austin Romine: 1-for-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Matt Cusick: 1-for-4, 2 R
Marcos Vechionacci: 1-for-3, R, BB
Lance Pendleton: 6 IP, H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 SO
Box score

High-A: Tampa 11, Bradenton 4

Ray Kruml: 2-for-4, 2 2B, 3 R, RBI, SB
Jose Pirela: 3-for-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB
Corban Joseph: 3-for-3, R, 2 RBI, BB
Brad Suttle: 2-for-4, 2B, R, 4 RBI
Trent Lockwood: 1-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, BB
Graham Stoneburner: 5 1/3 IP, 7 H, R, ER, BB, 8 SO
Box score


Short Season: PPD

Gulf Coast League: Phillies 5, Yankees 4

Anderson Felix: 2-for-5, 2B, R
Cito Culver: 2-for-4, 2 R, 2B
Damian Taveras: 1-for-4, 2 RBI
Matt Richardson: 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, BB, SO
Box score

Dominican Summer League 1: Mets 4, Yankees 1

Yeicok Calderon: 2-for-3, 2B
Ericson Leonora: 2-for-3, 2B
Elio De La Rosa: 1-for-4, 2B, R
Jose Pena: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, SO
Box score

Dominican Summer League 2: PPD

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Future Thunder on display in Lakewood

The Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees' Low-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League, are coming to New Jersey for a four-game set with the Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies) starting tomorrow. I will be at the first three games of the tilt, and will see the following pitching matchups:

RHP Jose Ramirez (3-4, 3.51) vs. RHP Josh Zeid (5-3, 3.09)
RHP Brett Marshall (1-1, 2.86) vs. RHP Brody Colvin (5-6, 3.67)
LHP Josh Romanski (4-2, 3.28) vs. RHP Trevor May (1-1, 5.06)

These games make me as eager to see baseball as I have been all year. I've seen none of the Charleston hurlers, and am excited to get a second look at Colvin and a first look at May, who started the year in Clearwater.

Of course, that's only the pitchers.

The RiverDogs also have Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy, the Yanks' first- and second-round picks from 2009. In total, Charleston has six of New York's first dozen selections from a year ago. The others are: Sean Black, Rob Lyerly, DeAngelo Mack and Neil Medchill.

Lots of pictures and videos to come over the next three days.

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Around the System - July 18

It's been a while for this, but I'm back on the horse. That said, here goes nothing:

Triple-A: Scranton 3, Toledo 2

Greg Golson: 2-for-3, 2B, HR
Reegie Corona: 1-for-4, 3B, 2 RBI
Jesus Montero: 1-for-3
David Phelps: 6 IP, 7 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 10 SO
Box score

Double-A: Reading 4, Trenton 0

Matt Cusick: 1-for-4
Brandon Laird: 1-for-4
Edwar Gonzalez: 1-for-4
D.J. Mitchell: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
Box score

High-A: Tampa 9, Bradenton 2

Ray Kruml: 3-for-5, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
Melky Mesa: 2-for-4, R, RBI
Zoilo Almonte: 3-for-4, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI
Myron Leslie: 3-for-3, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI, BB
Box score

Low-A: Augusta 3, Charleston 1

Slade Heathcott: 1-for-4, R
J.R. Murphy: 3-for-3, BB
Rob Lyerly: 2-for-4
Kyle Higashioka: 3-for-4
Sean Black: 7 IP, 3 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 5 SO
Box score

Short Season: Staten Island 9, Vermont 5

Eduardo Sosa: 1-for-5, 2B, R
Casey Stevenson: 1-for-5, HR
Kelvin De Leon: 2-for-4, 2 R, BB
Kyle Roller: 2-for-5, 2B, RBI
Kevin Mahoney: 2-for-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI
James Gipson: 6 IP, 2 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 4 SO
Box score

Gulf Coast League: NO GAME

Dominican Summer League 1: NO GAME

Dominican Summer League 2: NO GAME

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Andrew Brackman video BONANZA

From the top, we have a strikeout, a groundout, an error, an RBI single and another groundout.

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Adam Warren's first Double-A strikeout

Here, fresh from the ballpark is video of Adam Warren fanning Kevin Mahar in the first inning of this evening's game with the Reading Phillies.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pregame Notes to open the second half

It was officially acknowledged today that Adam Warren is in the Thunder's rotation. He pitches tomorrow and will take Wilkin De La Rosa's spot in the rotation for now. Speaking of the starting five, it's going to be a little more complicated for the first time through after the All-Star Break.

Starting tonight, this is how the initial turn will look:

1. Brackman
2. Warren
3. Arbiso
4. Mitchell
5. Pendleton

Then, starting on the 20th, the rotation should shake down like this:

1. Brackman
2. Warren
3. Noesi
4. Mitchell
5. Pendleton

I know I've said it before, but for Mitchell to be the only remaining starter from the rotation and to have the team still doing so well is quite amazing. Maybe I'm reading too much into this.

Warren isn't officially on the roster yet, so Ryan Baker will be heading to the DL tomorrow to accommodate his arrival. He said in the clubhouse earlier that it took him 14 hours to drive from Tampa to Trenton. Geez. I got tired driving the three hours from Princeton to Bowie for last week's road set.

More to come later. I will be attempting to get as many videos of Brackman as I can tonight. So stay tuned later for those.

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Adam Warren's entry interview - Part 2

I was able to wrangle an interview with Adam Warren before Wednesday's Eastern League All-Star Game. He'll be starting tomorrow in Trenton. Here's the last part of what he had to say.

Q: Where do you peak now, with the fastball?

A: Lately I've been averaging 92. I hit 96 two or three times in my career, but usually it's 90 to 94.

Q: What would you say is your strength as far as offspeed pitches go?

A: As of right now, I've gotten to the point where I can throw all three for strikes most days. It changes from day to day (as to) which one is better in my opinion, because some days my curveball is my strikeout pitch. Some days my slider is.

It really changes from day to day. I feel like some days my offspeed pitches are better than others, not overall one is better than the other. Just being able to locate those for strikes is kind of a big thing for me.

Q: I was reading your blog the other day in preparation for this interview, and I noticed that Archbishop Desmond Tutu presided over your graduation from North Carolina. How cool an experience was that?

A: It was a little different. He was interesting. He's an interesting guy. He didn't talk too long, but it was kind of interesting to see how a guy like him, coming from a different culture, would talk to us. It was an experience hearing from someone coming from the kind of power from another country.

Q: Out of your four College World Series appearances, what is your most memorable moment?

A: Probably my sophomore year. I was a mid-week starter and didn't really pitch in conference much, but I had a pretty good year. Our first game, our No. 1 starter ran into trouble early and they brought me in and I ended up pitching, I think, four innings.

I ended up getting the win there. I think that was pretty neat, and that kind of helped me with my confidence and my development into the next year, when I became a starter for conference. That just really helped me, as a pitcher, develop that confidence.

Q: There's a lot of big names that have come from your class at UNC, Dustin Ackley and Alex White to name a couple. What does playing for such a high-level program do, you think, in terms of helping you advance more quickly once you get to the minor leagues?

A: I think it really did prepare me. Playing with a strong conference and having guys like Alex White there to push me. He would start on Friday and I would want to match him on Saturday. Friendly competition really pushed me better as a pitcher. For me, it really helped me out to play with guys like him who are going to push you a little bit to get better than where you are at that point.

Q: Moving from baseball, while you were at UNC, did you get a chance to meet Dean Smith?

A: I did not. I got to meet Roy Williams, but I didn't get a chance to meet Dean Smith.

Q: How was meeting Roy Williams, then?

A: It was pretty interesting. He supported us in Omaha. He came out to the games. He spoke to us in my first and second year going. He's a great coach and he gave us some inspirational words just to go out there and be a leader, that sort of thing, just some reassurance from a coach that has won a national championship. That's pretty neat.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adam Warren's entry interview - Part 1

I was able to wrangle an interview with Adam Warren before yesterday's Eastern League All-Star Game. He'll be starting on Friday in Trenton. Here's what he had to say to me yesterday.

Q: When did you get the news?

After our last game two days ago. They called me into Torre Tyson’s office and just told me the news.

Q: Were you expecting it?

A: Not really. I was just trying to focus on my next start. That’s been my deal. In the minor leagues, it’s always in the back of your mind that you want to get promoted. It’s not something you can sit there and wait for, it’s just something that kind of happens. It just kind of popped up on me.

Q: Can you tell me about how your season in Tampa had gone so far?

A: I felt like I had some success with Tampa. I felt like I got better as a pitcher as the season went on. Greg Pavlick and I had been working on a few things with mechanics, and working on the offspeed pitches. I felt like those adjustments really paid off. I felt like I was getting stronger as the year went and was pitching like I wanted to in those last few outings.

Q: Does that mean that you may not have been pitching to your expectations in the beginning of the year?

A: I felt like I was still throwing good, but I want to get better every time after every outing. Like I said, I was making a few adjustments, throwing a few more offspeed pitches for strikes. I felt like I was getting better as the year was going on. I’m still looking to improve on that even more.

Q: For the people who don’t know or haven’t seen you, can you tell me what you throw?

A: Four-seam and two-seam fastball, change-up, curveball and kind of a cutter-slider type deal. I basically just try to go after hitters and use a bulldog mentality. I try to pound the zone low in the zone to get ground balls and try to work as fast as I can.

Q: You got drafted pretty low in 2008, can you explain what may have improved your stock between then and draft season 2009?

A: I felt like I had a better year overall. No. 1, I felt like I got more confident on the mound, got more confident in the zone more. I’m not really sure where it came from, but I got a little extra two to three miles per hour on my fastball in my senior year. That helped me get more confident, throw more strikes and get ahead of hitters. I think a combination of those things and having a better year. That kind of stands out more to the scouts.

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Live from Harrisburg for the All-Star Game

Well, here I am at Metro Bank Park for the All-Star Game, and here are the lineups, fresh from press row.


Darin Mastroianni - LF
Ben Revere - CF
Austin Romine - C
Brandon Laird - 3B
Kirk Nieuwenhuis - RF
Eric Thames - DH
Matt Rizzotti -1B
Ray Chang - SS
Nate Spears - 2B
Kyle Drabek - P


Andy Dirks - CF
Josh Harrison - 2B
Hector Gimenez - C
Matt Hague - 1B
John Drennen - LF
Tyler Henson - RF
Thomas Neal - DH
Lonnie Chisenhall - 3B
Danny Espinosa - SS
Tom Milone - P

Just spoke with D.J. Mitchell, Austin Romine, Brandon Laird and Kyle Drabek during the pre-game media session. Drabek says he is throwing one inning or 20 pitches.

The most interesting tidbit to come out of those sessions was saying he believes second baseman David Adams, out of action with a high ankle sprain since May 22, could return within a week or so. That, plus the addition of Adam Warren, should be big lifts for the Thunder in the second half.

So, the story on Laird's injury and how it came to be that he is starting today is this: He has one of those foot/ankle pads that you so often see guys like Derek Jeter wearing to protect themselves from foul balls. He just wasn't wearing it that day.

Naturally, he hit one off the ankle and was feeling it pretty hard. Then, as time passed, the pain gradually wore off. X-rays were negative, and everything was OK once again.

The problem, however, came when the Yankees told him he was out of both the HR derby and the All-Star Game. Because he had family out to watch the proceedings, this was problematic. He was able to talk his way back into the game (obviously) but remains a no-go for the derby.

More to come later.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Austin Romine is pro rally monkeys.

6:08: Pirates catching prospect Hector Gimenez has won the Home Run Derby. He hit nine in the second round to edge the Senators' Chris Marrero. Spectacular show by both men.

7:52: Nate Spears' single and Ben Revere's sac fly have driven home two runs here. 2-0 Eastern Division.

Here's Brandon Laird's first at-bat

8:19: Altoona first baseman Matt Hague showing some SERIOUS ups while spearing Ben Revere's liner that should have been a two-run double (at least).

9:00: Phillies pitcher Drew Naylor got messed up by the Western Division. Chase d'Arnaud took him out to left for a grand slam. Then Andy Dirks took him very, very deep to right for a solo bomb. Impressive power.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Steinbrenner's life was felt locally

BOWIE, Md. – When George Steinbrenner, owner of the Yankees since 1973, passed away yesterday at 80 years old, it set off an almost universal feeling of sadness throughout baseball. The man known for ruling his club with a fist of iron and a resolve of steel also made an impact on more than a few people associated with Mercer County.

There’s Joe Finley, who has been involved with the Thunder since they first opened up shop in 1994. He currently serves as the team’s president, and fills the same role for the Lakewood BlueClaws, the Phillies’ Low-A affiliate.

In a statement yesterday, Finley remembered Steinbrenner more for his humanitarian efforts than his days ruling the New York tabloids.

“Mr. Steinbrenner was a visionary in the world of baseball and business that is unmatched. Equally unmatched was his passion for helping people less fortunate than he. His devotion to helping disadvantaged children, the families of slain law enforcement officers and military families speaks volumes as to the type of person he was,” Finley said. “His leadership turned the Yankees into the world-class franchise that we are so proud to be affiliated with.”

Of course, the people on the field, even those who never spent time with the Yankees, were touched by the man who spent decades as baseball’s loudest, most ever-present voice.

Tommy Phelps, the Thunder’s pitching coach as well a Florida Marlin for part of three seasons, expressed his sadness over Steinbrenner’s death.

"Mr. Steinbrenner ran a first class organization and this is a sad day for baseball," Phelps said. "When I talked to my wife about it, she said that we 'lost a legend' today. We both grew up in Tampa, and he was such a big influence on the community there and was just a wonderful man."

Frank Menechino, a veteran of 11 major league seasons and the Thunder’s hitting coach since 2009, reflected on the unchecked passion for winning that accounts for so much of Steinbrenner’s legacy.

“Baseball has lost one of its best competitors,” Menechino said. “He was dedicated to winning, and that dedication made the Yankees the best organization in baseball.”

Of course, a Steinbrenner retrospective would be incomplete without a player’s view. For that, there’s Alan Horne, the 2007 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year who also spent parts of 2008 and 2009 with the Thunder.

What he’ll remember about the man who for decades became synonymous with Yankees is the equality with which he treated his players, from the superstars to the hot-shot prospects to those fighting just to get recognized.

“I think it’s a sad day for sports, not just baseball,” Horne said in a text message to The Trentonian. “He pushed his organization to be the greatest and he treated every single one of us with respect. He was a great man and special person, aside from a front office genius.”

Those works of charity to which Finley referred were not always high-profile. Sometimes, because those acts of generosity benefited individuals and not organizations, they went nearly unnoticed.

Once such story was related to The Trentonian yesterday by one of its former correspondents, Dennis Maffezzoli, currently a columnist with the Sarasota Tribune-Review.

The story hinges around the death of Yankees scout named Jack Llewellyn who spent years scouring the Inglewood, Fla. area for talent.

“Jack was a good guy. He was one of those old-time scouts with the clipboard and the stopwatch, a good old, old-time scout,” Maffezzoli recalled. “Jack passed away, and I guess his wife didn’t have enough (to pay for his final expenses). Steinbrenner actually paid for the funeral and showed up in Inglewood, which is like 100 miles from Tampa, for Jack’s funeral.”

Those unprompted acts of kindness, sprinkled with his undying quest to build a winner for New York, are only part of the reason that Steinbrenner has left behind a legacy that has no chance of ever being matched.

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Laird seems to be OK

After talking with the Thunder PR this morning, and per a report from John Nalbone at BareBones, Brandon Laird is doing better, and the X-Rays on his left ankle were negative. Nalbone spoke to Mark Newman, who denied reports that Laird has been scratched from the All-Star game.

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Laird's injury is costly, but it may not spell doom for the Thunder

BOWIE, Md. — It started on Opening Day when Christian Garcia tore a ligament in his elbow. Then, three weeks later, Damon Sublett needed season-ending thumb surgery.

A month passed before the Thunder’s next big blows, labrum surgery for No. 3 starter Jeremy Bleich and a high ankle sprain to David Adams that so far has cost the second baseman nearly two months.

From the last day in June until July 6, center fielder Austin Krum and late-inning relievers Grant Duff and Tim Norton each took their place on the shelf.

Then yesterday came what could wind up being the biggest blow of all, an ankle injury to Brandon Laird, the Thunder’s cleanup man and the circuit’s leader in RBIs.

Still, even with all that star power gone, Trenton finds itself just 1 ½ games behind New Hampshire for first place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division.

After closing the first half yesterday with a series-salvaging win over the Bowie Baysox, the team believed that in order to retain its postseason, the starting pitching had to right itself.

“We need to pitch well,” Lance Pendleton said. “I think that, really, is the first step, making sure our starters to take of some business and hope (the offense) scores a few runs for us. That really is the thing.

Over their six road losses to close the first half, Thunder starters haven’t exactly given the team a lift. They’ve allowed 23 earned runs on 34 hits and 12 walks over 25 2/3 innings.

For those counting, that’s an ERA of 7.71 and a WHIP of 1.79, ghastly marks both.

“The last week or so, we haven’t commanded our pitches as well,” pitching coach Tommy Phelps said before yesterday’s game. “We’ve gotten behind in the counts, left some pitches in the zone and we haven’t pitched as well. We went through a stint like this early in the season for about 10 days, but we’ll get back on track after the break.”

Knowing Hector Noesi and Andrew Brackman — the latter of whom is throwing much better than his numbers indicate — will be in the rotation from the jump adds an element of certainty.

Add in the probability of receiving Adam Warren, the Florida State League’s ERA leader shortly after the break to join All-Stars Pendleton and D.J. Mitchell — whose seven wins lead the staff — and the starting five seems like it could be ready to improve quickly.

“We have a lot of younger guys throughout our organization who have stepped up, and come in and filled those guys’ shoes” Phelps said, referring to younger pitchers like Brackman and Noesi who have filled the holes left behind by Garcia, Phelps and Bleich “That’s the whole thing with development and everything — when a guy leaves, we have a lot of depth in our organization.”

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Adam Warren promoted to Trenton

A source confirmed to The Trentonian early this morning that Adam Warren, the Florida State League's ERA leader, has been promoted to Double-A Trenton.

With Tampa, Warren was 7-5 with a 2.22 ERA in 81 innings at High-A. He struck out 67 and walked just 17 over 81 innings (by comparison, Hector Noesi, a control artiste, has walked the same amount over 83 frames). He also allowed just 72 hits in that span.

He's held hitters to just a .235 average against and is getting 2.18 ground balls to every fly ball. He and Andrew Brackman are both on turn to start on Thursday, but I assume Warren will be pushed to Friday, where the Thunder (as recently as yesterday) had Cory Arbiso listed as the starter.

Check back later for quotes from Warren himself.

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Thunder win game, lose Brandon Laird

BOWIE, Md. — Even though they were able to sneak away with a victory to close the first half — 10-5 over the Bowie Baysox — the Thunder are left with far bigger problems to open the second part of their season.

Cleanup hitter Brandon Laird, who provided a large of portion of the team’s offense from April until June, fouled a ball off of his left ankle in the sixth inning. Upon contact, Laird tried to walk it off, but eventually succumbed to the pain and collapsed near the left-handed batter’s box.

Eventually, trainer Tim Lentych and coach Vic Valencia had to assist Laird from the field to the dugout, where he stayed for a time before being escorted to the clubhouse by Lentych.

The sheer fact that Laird left the game was proof enough to his teammates that something was seriously wrong with their third baseman.

“For him to come out of the game, it’s probably got to be pretty, pretty bad,” Justin Snyder said.

Neither Laird nor Lentych were in the clubhouse afterward, yet another probable indicator of the injury’s severity. He did ride the bus back to Trenton with the team, however he was scratched from the All-Star Game.

Even with Laird gone, there still was business at hand. When he left, the game was tied at 3-3, and that’s where it stayed until the ninth, when the Thunder’s bats exploded in a big way.

Marcos Vechionacci and Jack Rye opened the frame with consecutive walks off of Bob McCrory, who had so effortlessly dispatched with the Thunder a night earlier. Rene Rivera followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt so fundamentally perfect that even the slow-footed catcher was able to easily leg it into an infield single.

That set things up for Snyder, who took the patient approach, even after McCrory was removed after missing the strike zone on the first offering.

“I was going to pretty much take until I got strike, and he threw me a ball and they took him out,” Snyder said. “The guy coming in (Pedro Beato) I had faced prior, so I was pretty much looking for a first-pitch fastball, or anything I could drive when I got 3-1.”

He never got anything to hit, and was happy enough to draw a walk that forced home Rye with the go-ahead run.

Edwar Gonzalez followed with a bases-clearing triple upped the Thunder’s lead to 7-3. A single from Cusick — who replaced Laird in the lineup — and a double from Vechionacci put three more scores on the board and pushed Trenton into double digits for the first time since June 24 against Erie.

Even though they closed the road trip at just 2-6, the win yesterday gave the team a much-needed morale boost before the second half starts on Thursday with a four-game set against the Reading Phillies.

“It was a tough road trip,” Gonzalez said. “We struggled a little bit, but we still kept our positive attitude. … You want to go home for a couple of days, but you want to go home winning the last game.”

(Photo of Laird and Tim Lentych courtesy of Andreea Rawlings)

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Jim Hoey strikes out Luis Nunez

In this video, Baysox -- and former Orioles -- reliever Jim Hoey, a Rider alumnus, strikes out Thunder shortstop Luis Nunez. In all, Hoey struck out two (Justin Christian was the other) while allowing one run on two hits and a walk.

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Thunder's arms can't match their bats

BOWIE, Md. – On the one hand, the Thunder put together 16 hits and seven runs, more than they’d tallied in latter category than in the previous two games combined. They even managed to accomplish this without Brandon Laird, their dynamic cleanup hitter, in the lineup.

On the other hand, Wilkin De La Rosa and George Kontos weren’t able to hold the fort, and Trenton was toppled 9-7 by the Bowie Baysox last night at Prince George’s Stadium.

With Bowie ahead 5-3 in the fifth, Justin Christian, freshly back with Trenton thanks to the Yankees signing of Chad Tracy, connected on a two-run triple into the right-field corner that brought home Edwar Gonzalez and Justin Snyder with the tying tallies.

With the score evened, De La Rosa was off the hook for the loss. The left-hander, who was recently re-inserted into the starting rotation on a permanent basis, continued his string of poor performance.

Yesterday, De La Rosa let in five earned runs on eight hits and two walks over just three innings. Over his last 11 outings, covering 35 2/3 innings, he’s permitted 41 hits and issued 23 free passes.

The stats are particularly alarming when one considers that De La Rosa is on the 40-man roster and was absolutely lights-out to start the year.

Through his first five appearances – spanning 9 1/3 innings – opponents scored just once off of him. Then came a string of games in late April where he got progressively worse, letting in a run, then two, and finally three on April 28.

Four times since then, De La Rosa has allowed more than four runs in an outing. The low point came on May 27, when the SeaWolves reached him for eight earned runs on 10 hits – including two home runs – in just 2 2/3 innings.

After Wilkins Arias wiggled out of a jam in the fourth, Kontos entered in the fifth and didn’t exactly provide relief.

The Northwestern-educated right-hander got two quick outs before Brandon Waring rocketed a ground-rule double to right-center. The next man, Caleb Joseph, dumped a single into no man’s land in between short and left field to bring home Waring and give Bowie the lead once again.

The Baysox got to Kontos for three more over the six and seventh before Kevin Whelan restored order in the eighth, after the Thunder had blown their last real scoring chance.

With runners at first and second with one out, Jim Hoey – a former Oriole and Rider alumnus working his way back after a series of arm injuries – battled Christian for 10 pitches before getting to wave at an offspeed offering on the outside half. He then got Luis to stare at strike three to end the inning.

NOTES: Christian and Kontos switched uniform numbers, with the outfielder taking 17 from Kontos, who received number 38.

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Sheppard's death felt throughout Thunder clubhouse

BOWIE, Md. – More than his own time at the plate, Thunder outfielder Justin Christian remembers the first time he heard Bob Sheppard call out the Yankee captain’s name.

“What I remember more than my name being called is Derek Jeter’s, his signature when he comes to an at-bat. His voice has always been recorded for Jeter. It was great to hear that, and I think that’s a tribute to (Sheppard) as a person.”

Starting with Boston’s Dom DiMaggio on May 17, 1951, Sheppard famously dictated every player’s name with the same amount measure, rhythm and respect, whether or not he played for the Yankees.

One such lucky player is Jody Reed, who spent 11 seasons in the show. He made his Yankee Stadium debut in 1987, just seven games into his big league career. He remembers knowing the voice waiting for him, if not the name.

“I didn’t know who Bob Sheppard was, and then you’re hearing him call out the opening lineups, and the voice is so distinct,” said Reed, the Thunder’s interim skipper while Tony Franklin is at the Futures Game. “Of course the veteran guys, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, they tell you who is and you’re like, ‘Wow.’”

For Reed, as his career wore on and the trips to the Bronx became more frequent and familiar, the thrill of hearing Sheppard – who became known as The Voice of God – pronounce his name never grew tiresome.

“Of course, over a 10-year career, hearing Bob announce the name and announce the lineups – and that voice – you never forget it. Hearing that voice (and) the slow, perfect enunciation – and it is booming – it is so distinctive. As you go on, every time you go in there, you look forward to hearing him call your name.”

Thunder hitting coach Frank Menechino, a veteran of seven seasons, was visibly broken up when he heard just before game time about Sheppard’s passing. Hearing his name over the Yankee Stadium loudspeakers meant so much to Menechino that he wanted to whatever he could to have that feeling available forever.

With a little ingenuity and some help from the Yankees’ public relations department, that’s a possibility.

“I have it recorded at home,” Menechino said. “That way I can listen to it over and over, whenever I want.”

That, in a nutshell, tells you all you need to know about the impact Sheppard and his voice made for 58 legendary seasons.

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