Blogs > Minor Matters

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Venditte and one more coming up; Arizona Fall League rosters announced

As I wrote in this column five days ago, the September call-ups have made ripples throughout the Yankees system, including the promotion of switch-pitcher Pat Venditte to the Thunder.

The promotion was confirmed to The Trentonian by Mark Newman, the Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman. There's one other pitcher coming north, most likely Jonathan Ortiz, but Newman wasn't ready to reveal that information just yet.

The pitchers replace relievers George Kontos and John Van Benschoten, who were out of the clubhouse yesterday.

With Tampa, Venditte finishes with a 4-1 record, a 1.63 ERA and an astonishing 47 hits in 71 2/3 innings. If Ortiz is the final call-up, he'll finish his time in the Florida State League with a 6-1 record, a 2.39 ERA and 57 strikeouts.


Also, Arizona Fall League rosters were announced before yesterday's game. Four current or former Thunder players made the cut, including catcher Austin Romine, third baseman Brandon Laird, second baseman Corban Joseph and Kontos. Tampa starter Craig Heyer also made the cut.

Those five will play on the Phoenix Desert Dogs, which will be managed by Yankees legend Don Mattingly.

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Two videos from yesterday

Real quick, here's a video of two firsts: Adam Warren's first strikeout and Lance Berkman's first hit.

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Around the System - August 30

Triple-A: Lehigh Valley 8, Scranton 7

Kevin Russo: 1-for-5, R
Greg Golson: 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 R
Chad Huffman: 1-for-2, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB
Jesus Montero: 0-for-5, RBI
Brandon Laird: 1-for-5
David Phelps: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 R, ER, 2 BB, 5 SO

Double-A: Trenton 4, Akron 3

Justin Christian: 1-for-4, HR
Lance Berkman: 2-for-5, R
Dan Brewer: 2-for-5, R
Corban Joseph: 2-for-4, BB
Rene Rivera: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Adam Warren: 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 6 SO

High-A: OFF

Low-A: Charleston 3, Greenville 1

Slade Heathcott: 1-for-6, HR, 2 RBI
Luke Murton: 1-for-5, 2B
Taylor Grote: 2-for-4, HR
Ramon Flores: 1-for-5
Brett Marshall: 7 IP, 5 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 6 SO
Ryan Flannery: 3 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO

Short Season: Lowell 6, Staten Island 3

Shane Brown: 2-for-5, RBI
Kyle Roller: 2-for-3, RBI
Gary Sanchez: 1-for-4
Kelvin Duran: 2-for-4, 2B
Casey Stevenson: 1-for-4, 2B, R
Dustin Hobbs: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
Daniel Burawa: 2 IP, H, R, 2 BB, 4 SO

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Wilkin De La Rosa strongly denies B-12 reports

TRENTON — Looking almost distraught in the hallway outside of the Thunder clubhouse yesterday, Thunder reliever Wilkin De La Rosa unequivocally denied that he ever injected himself, or anyone else, with vitamin B-12 or any other substance.

The denial stems from a New York Post report Friday that he and former Thunder teammate Ivan Nova did in fact inject each other with B-12 in the home clubhouse. MLB is investigating whether, if the allegations are true, B-12 was the only thing in the players’ syringes.

“I have never done that and doing that has never entered my mind. I don’t know why anyone would make that comment,” De La Rosa said. “I was surprised because I don’t even think about anything like that. They called me into the office (Friday in Harrisburg) and told me. I thought it was about something else...not even close to something like that. I have never done that.”

In and of itself, B-12 is legal under Major League Baseball’s rules. Injecting oneself or someone else with it, however, is not. Any and all injections must be performed by a licensed physician.

When Tony Franklin heard about the report, it produced one main reaction: The manager spoke with both De La Rosa and Mark Newman, the Yankees’ Vice President of Baseball Operations, about how to handle the situation.

“I was shocked when I heard there was an article written,” he said. “I just don’t believe it. When I heard about it, in my opinion, I don’t think it happened…It just absolutely floored me. I was shocked. I feel bad for he and Nova that this report came about.”

As for the source of leak to the Post, both Franklin and De La Rosa are in the dark. More concerning to the pitcher than the allegations, however, is the stigma attached to his name now that the allegations have surfaced.

“I have no idea where (the leak) came from,” he said. “That kind of comment – you have it with you for life. This is the last time I am going to talk about it because I didn’t do anything wrong so there is no need to talk about it.”

Six Yankees minor leaguers have been suspended for performance-enhancing drugs this season. Former Thunder reliever Amauri Sanit, who tested positive for mephentermine in late May, was the only player to ascend past rookie ball.

The other five, Rony Bautista (boldendone), Josue Rodriguez (stanzolol), Daury Aquino (stanzolol), Alexander De Los Santos (boldendone) and Angel Rincon (stanzolol), each played on one of the Yankees’ two Dominican Summer League clubs.

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Rivera's walk-off single gives Thunder a huge win

TRENTON — On a night when they had Lance Berkman in the lineup, another player with major league experience gave the Thunder a huge win.

Rene Rivera’s single through the middle in the tenth inning gave Trenton a 4-3 win and cut its magic number to clinch the Eastern League East to six games with seven left to play. With New Hampshire’s win, the Thunder’s lead in the division remains at a game and a half.

Rivera, a former Mariners catcher who also homered, used a little bit of the wit he’s accrued from being behind the plate so many years to get into the pitcher’s head in a key situation.

“Bases loaded, no outs, I know he’s going to try to get me to roll over something,” Rivera explained. “He’s going to throw nothing inside, he’s going to stay away. He threw a first-pitch slider, and the second pitch I swung.”

Closer Ryan Pope coughed up the lead in the ninth – his third blown save in 19 chances – but, with a little help from second baseman Corban Joseph, pitched out of trouble in the top of the tenth.

With the go-ahead run at third and infield playing in, Lonnie Chisenhall hit a soft line drive up the middle that seemed destined for center field. Joseph raced to right and snared the ball with a full-extension dive, saving the game for the moment.

“It was just enough up the middle that I guess I was the only one who had a really good shot at it,” Joseph said. “I saw Nunez take the route that, if I missed it, he was right there to get it.”

The Thunder’s rally in the bottom half was set up by Dan Brewer leadoff single, followed by a pair of fortuitous sacrifice bunts from Justin Snyder and Joseph that weren’t fielded cleanly. Both men reached, and the stage was set for Rivera.

Early in the game, it was once again time for Adam Warren to shine.

As he did in his last start, Warren let up a run in the first before settling done in a major way over the remainder, a strong effort in the Thunder’s only win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

From there, Warren went to work. Over the next 4 2/3 innings, the right-hander blanked the Aeros on five hits and fanned a half dozen.

Combined with his previous two outings, Warren has lasted 18 2/3 frames, allowed two earned runs on 12 hits and two walks, and has fanned an astonishing 27 hitters.

If everybody is kept on regular rest, newcomer Dellin Betances would be the man to start Game 1 against the Fisher Cats on Sept. 8. Were the playoff rotation set solely on merit, however, Warren would almost certainly be the one getting the ball.

“I would think that he’s a pretty good candidate to start (Game 1),” manager Tony Franklin said. “I’d feel very comfortable with him.”

NOTES: After missing the last two games in Harrisburg, Dan Brewer was back in the lineup last night. … Former Thunder manager and current Mariners scout Billy Masse was in the stands. … Berkman was 2-for-5 with two singles but struck out to send the game to extra innings. … Justin Christian led off the game with a home run, his second in as many nights.

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Lance Berkman talks about steroids

TRENTON — When the Mitchell Report came out in 2007, it contained the names of 89 documented abusers of performance-enhancing drugs. The names ranged from superstars like Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, to also-rans like F.P. Santangelo and Randy Velarde.

Fans’ reactions ranged from sadness to shock to anger. So many of their favorite players, whom they’d shelled out wallet-loads of money in a collapsing economy to see play, were cheating.

When Lance Berkman, who yesterday began a two-day rehab stint with the Thunder, saw the list, however, there weren’t many surprises.

“Let me say this, I don’t know anybody’s name that I heard (in the Mitchell Report) that I didn’t think so … in other words, I didn’t think anybody wasn’t using that came out,” Berkman said. “If your name was on that list, those were a lot of the guys I suspected myself when it started to all come out. There wasn’t anybody where I was like, ‘Oh man, I know he didn’t do it, so why is he on that list?’”

These comments come on the heels of the arraignment of Roger Clemens, a teammate of Berkman’s from 2004 until 2006, who is facing charges of lying to Congress while denying that he ever used steroids.

Because Clemens’ denials have been so prolific and impassioned, Berkman says, he is willing to extend the pitcher a certain amount of goodwill when it comes to passing judgment on his guilt or innocence. Even so, he says, that goodwill is by no means absolute.

“Roger’s a guy that has been vehement in his denial, and he’s a friend of mine, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until this thing kind of resolves itself,” he explained. “Because of that, if he was found guilty of doing whatever it is, it’s not like I’d be so surprised that I’d fall over and faint or something. But, by the same token, I’m willing to give him every benefit of the doubt.”

For current Yankees pitcher and borderline Hall of Famer Andy Pettitte, who also shared a clubhouse with Clemens, the courtesy extends a little further. He doesn’t agree with Pettitte’s action, but because it wasn’t prolonged and was allegedly done with the sole intent of speeding his recovery time, he understands.

“Andy (Pettitte) and I are as good as friends as you can possibly be. He’s probably my best friend,” Berkman said. “I was surprised, but once I found out more about the reasoning behind it … obviously, I can say this, but nobody will buy into it: There’s a difference between taking steroids for the purpose of enhancing your performance; taking a cycle — and what Andy did, which was take HGH, that’s a different deal for the purpose of trying to come back from an injury.”

The major difference between Clemens and Pettitte, of course, is that Pettitte was willing to fess up to his wrongdoing while Clemens has maintained his innocence for the last three years and is willing to risk time in a federal prison to keep his name in the clear.

It’s that unflagging honesty on the part of the left-hander that has earned him Berkman’s trust and respect and in his eyes, it’s what sets him apart from guys like Barry Bonds and others who have gone out of their way to be deceptive in the face of controversy.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the way the situation is handled. It speaks to Andy’s character that he was willing to say he made a mistake. Here’s what I did, let me completely honest about this to the detriment of me and my friends and family and let me be honest and above board about this.

“Most people feel like Barry and some of the other guys are hiding something and they’re unwilling to admit to any wrongdoing at all and they’re hiding behind lawyers and it’s just shenanigans. People can see through that, and I think they don’t appreciate it. That’s why they may give a different reaction for Andy than you would for other guys.”

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Around the System - August 29

Triple-A: Scranton 5, Buffalo 1

Jesus Montero: 2-for-4, 2 HR
Colin Curtis: 1-for-3, HR
Chad Huffman: 2-for-4
Kevin Russo: 2-for-4, R
D.J. Mitchell: 7 IP, H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 SO

Double-A: Harrisburg 6, Trenton 5

Justin Christian: 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI
Austin Romine: 2-for-5, R
Edwar Gonzalez: 3-for-5, 3B, R, RBI
Dellin Betances: 5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 7 SO

High-A: Dunedin 4, Tampa 2

Myron Leslie: 2-for-4
Jose Gil: 2-for-3, HR, BB
Ray Kruml: 1-for-5
Jose Pirela: 1-for-4
Jack Rye: 1-for-3, 2B, RBI, BB
Josh Romanski: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 7 SO

Low-A: OFF

Short Season: Lowell 6, Staten Island 5

Kelvin De Leon: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R
Gary Sanchez: 1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R
Rob Segedin: 1-for-4, 2B, R, BB
Cito Culver: 1-for-3, R, 2 BB
Thomas Kahnle: 2 IP, H, R, ER, 2 SO

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lance Berkman to rehab with Thunder tomorrow and Tuesday

TRENTON – Yankees utility man Lance Berkman will join the Thunder for a two-game rehab stint starting with tonight’s game against the Akron Aeros.

Berkman, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 19 with a sprained right ankle suffered in a game against the Detroit Tigers, was acquired just before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.

The Yankees sent reliever and former Thunder pitcher Mark Melancon, as well as Low-A shortstop Jimmy Paredes to Houston to complete the deal.

The first baseman did some light running before today’s game with the White Sox. The ankle held up, and the Yankees made the call to assign him to Trenton, one of just two affiliates playing at home tomorrow. The other option was the Charleston RiverDogs, but their distance from New York makes sending him there less than desirable.

Berkman’s arrival could give a much-needed boost to a lineup that has struggled mightily over the last week. Over their last six games entering yesterday, the Thunder have averaged just more than two runs a game. They scored three or fewer runs in five of those six contests.

Before going on the shelf, the switch-hitting Berkman was hitting .179 with four RBIs with the Yankees. With his numbers from Houston thrown in, he’s at .237 with 13 longballs and 53 RBIs over 97 games.

This will be the Thunder’s second rehab assignment this season. The first one, of course, was right-hander Alfredo Aceves, who made four rehab appearances in Trenton before moving up to Triple-A.

The last time a Yankees hitter joined the Thunder was last year, when Jose Molina joined the team for three games. He went hitless with two walks over nine plate appearances.

John Maine also made a rehab appearance at Waterfront Park as a member of the Binghamton Mets.

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Daniel Burawa vs. the Lowell Spinners

In this video, Yankees 12th-round pick and Staten Island reliever Daniel Burawa pitches two innings against the Lowell Spinners. He allowed one hit, two walks, no runs and struck out three. Enjoy.

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Around the System - August 28

Triple-A: Buffalo 4, Scranton 0 (Game 1)

Kevin Russo: 1-for-4
Greg Golson: 1-for-4, 3B
Jesus Montero: 1-for-4
Colin Curtis: 2-for-4, 2B
Kei Igawa: 6 2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO

Triple-A: Scranton 2, Buffalo 1 (Game 2)

Greg Golson: 2-for-3, 2B, R
Jorge Vazquez: 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Brandon Laird: 1-for-3
Colin Curtis: 1-for-3

Double-A: Trenton 2, Harrisburg 1

Justin Christian: 1-for-4, R
Austin Krum: 1-for-4, 3B, R, RBI
Austin Romine: 1-for-4
Rene Rivera: 1-for-4, 2B
Manny Banuelos: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO

High-A: Tampa 6, Dunedin 2

Ray Kruml: 1-for-5, R
Zoilo Almonte: 2-for-2, 2 RBI
Addison Maruszak: 2-for-3, R
Jack Rye: 1-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI
Sean Black: 5 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 5 SO
Pat Venditte: 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 4 SO

Low-A: Savannah 3, Charleston 2

Rob Lyerly: 2-for-4, RBI
Kevin Mahoney: 2-for-4, 2B
Luke Murton: 1-for-3, HR
J.R. Murphy: 0-for-1, 3 BB

Short Season: Lowell 5, Staten Island 4

Shane Brown: 2-for-4
Rob Segedin: 2-for-5, HR
Kelvin De Leon: 2-for-3, 2B, R, RBI
Casey Stevenson: 1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI
Nik Turley: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, BB, 5 SO

Gulf Coast League: Braves 4, Yankees 0

Mason Williams: 1-for-3, BB
Angelo Gumbs: 1-for-4
Ben Gamel: 1-for-4

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Four Rob Segedin at-bats

I was at the Staten Island vs. Lowell game last night to watch, among others, Yankees third-round pick Rob Segedin. Here are all four of his at-bats. In order, he flies out, flies out, walks and strikes out.

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Four Cito Culver at-bats

I was at the Staten Island vs. Lowell game last night to watch, among others, Yankees first-round pick Cito Culver. Here are all four of his at-bats. In order, he flies out, singles, strikes out and grounds out.

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Four Gary Sanchez at-bats

I was at the Staten Island vs. Lowell game last night to watch, among others, Yankees catching prospect Gary Sanchez. Here are all four of his at-bats. In order, he grounds out, reaches on an error, gets hit by a pitch and reaches on a fielder's choice.

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Post: MLB investigating Nova, De La Rosa for B-12 injections

Ivan Nova and Wilkin De La Rosa are under investigation by the MLB for injecting each other with shots of B-12, which is not a substance on the league's banned list. The very act of injecting yourself or someone else, if you are not a licensed physician, however, is prohibited.

The MLB is looking into the case to see if either was being injected with something other than B-12, like HGH or other injectable performance-enhancers.

Of course, everybody is innocent until proven guilty, so I reserve my judgment until I get a chance to hear their side of the story. Nova's in the big leagues, so that will be difficult. I do, however, plan to drive up to Harrisburg tomorrow to speak to De La Rosa, so that could be interesting.

Stay tuned.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Adam Warren deserves the ball in Game 1

TRENTON — In 23 games with the Fisher Cats this season, the Thunder have held slugger Eric Thames hitless just five times.

Most recently, Adam Warren was the man responsible for keeping Thames in the yard and off the basepaths. It came in a 2-1 victory over the Fisher Cats that clinched the Thunder’s spot in the Eastern League playoffs and pushed their lead in the Eastern Division to 2 1/2 games.

It also, in my mind, cemented Warren as the man who should take the ball against New Hampshire when the division series begins on Sept. 8.

As Randy Boone hung zeroes on the Thunder, Warren seemed to kick it into another gear. He worked quickly and, after allowing a run on a wild pitch in the first, went to work devouring the meat of New Hampshire’s order.

Combined, the Fisher Cats’ 2 through 8 hitters were 0-for-16 against Warren with six strikeouts, two of which came against Thames.

Tuesday night’s outing, which fell on Warren’s 23rd birthday, also served as an encore to the performance he turned in seven days prior.

He fanned a Thunder record-setting 15 Baysox that night, prompting manager Tony Franklin to heap praise upon the right-hander.

That’s pretty good stuff. That’s major league-type stuff, front-line, major league, first-division, pennant contending team-type stuff,” Franklin said.

Lately, Warren’s arm has been backing up his skipper’s words. Over his last two starts, his numbers look like this: 13 innings, five hits, one run (earned), two walks and an incredible 21 strikeouts.

When I spoke with him during the All-Star break, after he’d been promoted to Trenton, here’s how he described his attitude on the mound:

“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.”

That bulldog mentality, as he describes it, will serve him well against a team that has knocked the Thunder around all season long. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s done it before.

Warren was given the starting assignment in the opening game of the Staten Island Yankees’ opening-round set. That night he limited the Lowell Spinners to two runs over 4 2/3 innings, and struck out eight.

Although he didn’t pick up the win, Warren’s effort kept the SI Yanks in the game long enough to mount a comeback victory.

That’s exactly what he’ll need to do against the Fisher Cats in a few weeks.


In a few days, when the major league roster limit expands to 40, there could be more changes in store for the Thunder, specifically when it comes to the bullpen.

Scranton relievers Jonathan Albaladejo and Romulo Sanchez are likely to join the Yankees, which means two arms would have to leave the Thunder’s pen.

George Kontos, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, is one obvious candidate. Josh Schmidt, who has been excellent over the majority of the last two seasons with Trenton, is the other.

If that happens, expect Pat Venditte and Jonathan Ortiz to make their way north.

Everybody familiar with the Yankees system has heard of Venditte, the switch pitcher who has been knocking on Double-A’s door all year. He’s allowed just 44 hits and has struck out 81 over 69 innings with High-A Tampa, and seems more than ready for a promotion.

With a 6-1 record, 2.49 ERA and 56 punchouts in 50 2/3 innings, Ortiz has nearly matched Venditte’s gaudy numbers, and would be a fitting addition to the back end of the Thunder’s bullpen.


Brandon Laird, who racked up 23 home runs and 90 RBIs before earning call to Triple-A, earned the nod at third base on the Eastern League’s postseason All-Star squad.


For the second straight season, Schmidt will pitch in the Venezuelan Winter League.

As a starter with the Aguilas de Zulia last year, the right-hander was 2-5 with a 3.58 ERA, including a complete-game shutout.

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Around the System - August 26

Triple-A: Scranton 5, Lehigh Valley 0

Colin Curtis: 2-for-4
Juan Miranda: 1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R
Greg Golson: 1-for-4, 2B, RBI, R
Kevin Russo: 1-for-4, RBI, R
Lance Pendleton: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, SO

Double-A: Harrisburg 3, Trenton 1

Justin Snyder: 2-for-3
Austin Romine: 1-for-4
Corban Joseph: 1-for-4, 3B
Matt Cusick: 1-for-3, 2B, RBI
Cory Arbiso: 6 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO

High-A: Tampa 3, Brevard County 2

Ray Kruml: 1-for-4, R, SB
Myron Leslie: 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Trent Lockwood: 2-for-3, R
Brad Suttle: 1-for-4, RBI
Graham Stoneburner: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 5 SO

Short Season: Staten Island 5, Lowell 1 (Game 1)

Rob Segedin: 1-for-3, R, RBI
Gary Sanchez: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Kelvin De Leon: 1-for-3, RBI, SB
Cito Culver: 1-for-3, SB
Kramer Sneed: 5 IP, 5 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 7 SO
Thomas Kahnle: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 4 SO

Short Season: Staten Island 5, Lowell 2

Cito Culver: 0-for-3
Jeff Farnham: 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, R
Nick McCoy: 1-for-3, 2 RBI
Mike Ferraro: 1-for-1, 2 R, BB
Zach Varce: 5 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, ER, 6 SO

Gulf Coast League: Blue Jays 6, Yankees 5 (Game 1)

Mason Williams: 2-for-6, SB
Angelo Gumbs: 2-for-6, 2B, 3 SB
Ben Gamel: 1-for-5, R, BB
Damian Taveras: 3-for-5, 2B, 2 R, BB
Evan Rutckyj: IP, 0 H, 0 R

Gulf Coast League: Blue Jays 7, Yankees 2 (Game 2)

Fu-Lin Kuo: 2-for-3
Jose Rosario: 1-for-3, R
Damian Taveras: 0-for-1, R, 2 BB
Wilton Rodriguez: 5 IP, 2 H, 3 R, ER, BB, 9 SO

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pitching matchups against Harrisburg

Tonight: RHP Cory Arbiso (5-2, 3.42) vs. RHP Ryan Tatusko (1-1, 2.70)
Tomorrow: RHP Andrew Brackman (3-7, 3.53) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (1-1, 2.04)
Saturday: LHP Manuel Banuelos (0-1, 9.53) vs. LHP Aaron Thompson (4-13, 6.15)
Sunday: RHP Dellin Betances (0-0, 1.93) vs. LHP Tom Milone (11-5, 2.93)

I might make a trip to the Burg on Saturday to get a second look at Banuelos, this time in better conditions.

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Around the System - August 25

Triple-A: Scranton 3, Rochester 2

Greg Golson: 3-for-4, R
Jorge Vazquez: 2-for-4, RBI
Colin Curtis: 1-for-2, 2B, SF, RBI, BB
Juan Miranda: 1-for-4, 2B, R, RBI
David Phelps: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO

Double-A: Trenton 2, New Hampshire 1

Corban Joseph: 2-for-3, RBI
Dan Brewer: 1-for-3, R
Austin Krum: 1-for-3, R
Justin Christian: 1-for-4
Adam Warren: 6 IP, 3 H, R, ER, BB, 6 SO

High-A: Brevard County 8, Tampa 3 (Game 1)

Addison Maruszak: 2-for-3, 2B, R
Jack Rye: 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI
Zoilo Almonte: 1-for-3, R, RBI
Shaeffer Hall: 2 2/3 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO

High-A: Tampa 5, Brevard County 3 (Game 2)

Ray Kruml: 1-for-4, 2 R
Jose Pirela: 3-for-4, 3B, R, RBI, SB
Brad Suttle: 1-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI
Jose Gil: 1-for-3, HR
Josh Romanski: 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, SO

Low-A: Charleston 8, Savannah 0

Ramon Flores: 1-for-2, 2B, 2 R, 2 BB
Neil Medchill: 2-for-3, R, 4 RBI
Rob Lyerly: 1-for-2, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB
Kevin Mahoney: 3-for-3, 2B, HR,
Brett Marshall: 6 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO

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Thunder clinch playoff spot

TRENTON — In typical Yankees fashion, the Thunder’s clinch of a spot in the Eastern League playoffs last night was not met with a dogpile on the mound or champagne in a cellophane-draped locker room.

In fact, when approached about it afterward, most of the players were unaware it had finally happened.

Indeed, the Thunder’s 2-1 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats last night, coupled with a Binghamton loss against lowly New Britain, punched their card in next month’s division series, which more than likely will come against New Hampshire.

As a bonus, the victory also bumped the Thunder’s lead in the division to 2 ½ games, just a game down of where they started the series.

“No question about it, this was a good win for us,” skipper Tony Franklin said. “I’m pretty happy with the way we played tonight, after last night. That was a heck of an effort for us tonight.”

Just as they did in the eighth inning on Tuesday, the top of Trenton’s lineup put together a quick rally against New Hampshire. This time it came in the seventh against Randy Boone, who had looked impenetrable for the prior six innings.

With one out, Austin Krum – who entered last night 2 for his last 34, slapped a Boone offering into center field. Dan Brewer then slipped a knock the right side that Adam Loewen juggled, allowing runners to move to second and third.

“I was looking for something out there,” Brewer said. “I didn’t know if it was off (the plate) or not, but it was close enough where I had to swing. I was just trying to put the ball in play and make something happen.”

Austin Romine’s nubber to shallow shortstop on the next pitch pushed across Krum and left the go-ahead run at second for Corban Joseph, who, like Krum, was in a deep funk.

Joseph’s worked Boone to a 3-0 count, a situation in which, over the last few weeks, he’d normally be asked to take. Franklin played a hunch, however, and let Joseph hack away, expecting he’d see a fastball he could push to the right.

“With the way I’d been playing now, it’s exciting, because (it means) Skip has a lot of confidence,” Joseph said. “He saw kind of what I saw, and I put together a game plan. Normally that’s not necessarily the greatest 3-0 hack. When you get the green light you really want to crush the ball.”

Even without the greatest contact in the world, Joseph’s single gave the Thunder the edge they’d need to put this one in the win column, something they hadn’t done against New Hampshire since July 29. That win, coincidentally, also was at Boone’s expense.

It also backed up a second straight stellar outing from Adam Warren, who over the past two starts has looked more and more like a good choice to take the ball in Game 1 of the playoffs.

The right-hander, pitching on his 23rd birthday and with a week’s rest in his back pocket, looked every bit as good as he did during his last start, when he struck out 15 Baysox and broke a 16-year-old team record in the process.

Using a fastball that sat between 90 and 94 miles per hour and a loopy curve, Warren finished the evening with one run on three hits and a walk with a half dozen strikeouts. He threw 99 pitches during his outing, 62 of which were strikes.

“Getting beat the first few games against New Hampshire, we all wanted to come out and not get swept,” Warren said. “We were just looking to try to get one on them. Our whole team played well tonight, and we came out with a win.”

NOTES: The Thunder released their 2011 schedule yesterday, and the biggest difference was the amount of games they’ll play against Reading. They’ll play the R-Phils 18 times next year, including a stretch of eight straight sandwiched around the All-Star break. … John Van Benschoten arrived yesterday, complete with a name tag on his locker dubbing him “King Schoten.”

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With VIDEO: Yankees made choice to skip college easier for Betances

TRENTON — For Dellin Betances, the choice three years ago to spurn Vanderbilt, a baseball factory as far as colleges are concerned, for the Yankees and the seven-figure bonus they offered was a bit taxing.

Both options offered a chance to be part of legacy. The Commodores boasted recent a string of recent high-round choices, like Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez and Rays ace David Price. The Yankees, of course, offered heroes both new modern and ancient – from Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio to Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter.

But the Thunder rotation’s new flame-throwing monolith grew up a New Yorker – Washington Heights, Manhattan, specifically – and a Yankee fan. So when New York came calling with in the eighth round, the choice was easier than it would have been with any other club.

“Being drafted by the Yankees made it a lot easier,” Betances explained. “It was definitely a tough choice. It took me a little bit to think it through, but I definitely think I made the right decision.”

Now, after an unexpected promotion, he’s been thrust from one playoff team directly into the thick of another with the Thunder. With a set of partially new teammates, Betances has to balance adjusting to the experienced hitters of Double-A with helping Trenton move forward in the hunt for a third Eastern League Championship in the last four seasons.

“I thought I was going to be nervous trying to fit in right away,” he said. “I felt good, man. I talked to some of these guys and get some advice from them on how to pitch these guys. I definitely felt like my stuff was good enough to get those guys out.”

On Tuesday against New Hampshire, after a very brief period of adjustment, Betances proved his stuff would more than suffice against the next level. Using a heater that topped at 97, an impressive change-up and a devastating 12-to-6 hook, the 22-year-old fanned eight Fisher Cats over 4 2/3 innings, including a stretch of seven straight between the third and fifth innings.

He finished with a flourish, getting Matt Liuzza to stare at a true knee-buckler for the second out of the fifth inning. With his refined command, which he credits to work on his mechanics done last year while recovering from ligament reinforcement surgery, Betances has drawn comparisons to a pitcher who evokes awful memories for Yankees fans – Red Sox hurler Josh Beckett.

The Yankees made sure Betances was at last year’s American League Championship against the Angels, as well as the Division Series three years ago against Cleveland. Now, with his career back on the correct path, they hope the next time he’s in the Bronx in October, it will be on the mound.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Around the System - August 23

Triple-A: OFF

Double-A: New Hampshire 6, Trenton 0

Justin Christian: 1-for-4
Austin Krum: 1-for-4
Dan Brewer: 0-for-4, 2 BB
Manny Banuelos: 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO

High-A: PPD

Low-A: Greenville 6, Charleston 5

Slade Heathcott: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R
Rob Lyerly: 1-for-4, 2 RBI
J.R. Murphy: 0-for-3, R, BB
Neil Medchill: 1-for-4, HR
James Gipson: 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO

Short Season: Staten Island 5, Aberdeen 1

Kyle Roller: 2-for-4, 3B, HR, 4 RBI
Rob Segedin: 1-for-3, 2 R
Gary Sanchez: 1-for-4, 2B
Cito Culver: 1-for-3
Nik Turley: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 6 BB, 4 SO

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Manny Banuelos aftermath

Sure, Manny Banuelos gave up six runs over 5 2/3 innings, including two laser beams of home runs, but the stuff he showed was more important last night. Watch the video of him pitching against Darin Mastroianni, and look at Mastroianni's reaction to the curveballs Banuelos flings up there for strikes two and three. Those are big league pitches, folks.

Then, skip down a video and check out how he carves up Eric Thames, one of the circuit's most feared sluggers. He gets down in the count, then finishes him with a heater on the black. This is a 19-year-old, folks.

Afterward, here's what Tony Franklin had to say about his new arm:

“You can see the stuff, it’s there. Great changeup, no question about it. Great motion on it. Curveball was tight. It lost a little bit because of the wetness. But you could see the stuff is there.”

As for Banuelos, he gave the reporters in the room a little bit of shock when he said his arm didn't feel right, but clarified by saying the wing felt heavy, not painful. He said all this through coach Vic Valencia acting as interpreter.

“I didn’t feel that well with my body and my arm today. Also, the mound was wet and the ball was wet, so I couldn’t command my pitches well.”

“I didn’t have any pain in my arm, I didn’t feel any pain. It just felt heavy. That’s probably why the velocity was what I normally throw. But I kept pitching.”

Tonight, the show starts anew with Dellin Betances scheduled to debut. The forecast, once again, is for rain, so it could get interesting. Alfredo Aceves, also, will relieve for two innings, so be on the lookout for that.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Around the System - August 22

Triple-A: PPD

Double-A: Portland 7, Trenton 6

Dan Brewer: 2-for-5, HR, BB
Damon Sublett: 2-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB, SB
Rene Rivera: 2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R
Matt Cusick: 3-for-5, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Andrew Brackman: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 2 SO

High-A: Tampa 4, Lakeland 1 (Game One)

Myron Leslie: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Brad Suttle: 1-for-3, HR
Zoilo Almonte: 1-for-2, R, BB
Craig Heyer: 7 IP, 4 H, R, ER, BB, 4 SO

High-A: Tampa 8, Lakeland 1 (Game Two)

Jose Pirela: 2-for-4, R, SB
Anderson Feliz: 2-for-3, 2 RBI, R, SB
Melky Mesa: 1-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, BB
John Van Benschoten: 4 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 5 SO

Low-A: Greenville 2, Charleston 1

Kelvin Castro: 1-for-4, 2B, R
Rob Lyerly: 1-for-3, RBI
Emerson Landoni: 1-for-3
Shane Greene: 6 IP, 4 H, R, ER, BB, 7 SO - Low-A debut

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Around the System - August 21

Triple-A: Scranton 4, Syracuse 3

Jesus Montero: 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI
Juan Miranda: 1-for-3, 2B, R
Eric Bruntlett: 3-for-4, R, RBI
Brandon Laird: 1-for-4, R

Double-A: Trenton 5, Portland 2

Dan Brewer: 2-for-4, R, 3 RBI
Austin Romine: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Justin Christian: 1-for-4, 2B, 2 R, BB
Hector Noesi: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 SO

High-A: Tampa 4, Lakeland 0

Jose Pirela: 2-for-5, 2B, 2 R
Brad Suttle: 3-for-5, 2B
Anderson Feliz: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Addison Maruszak: 1-for-5, 2B, RBI
Graham Stoneburner: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 SO

Low-A: Charleston 4, Greenville 0

DeAngelo Mack: 2-for-4, RBI
Luke Murton: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Rob Lyerly: 1-for-4, RBI, R
Michael Solbach: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO

Short Season: Staten Island 2, Connecticut 0

Rob Segedin: 1-for-4, 2 R, BB
Kyle Roller: 1-for-3, R, BB
Kelvin Duran: 1-for-3, 2B
Gary Sanchez: 0-for-2, BB, RBI
Zach Varce: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 7 SO

Gulf Coast League: Yankees 2, Tigers 1

Ben Gamel: 2-for-4, 2B
Fu-Lin Kuo: 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI
Jose Toussen: 1-for-3, 2 R
Dustin Hobbs: 5 IP, 5 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 6 SO

Dominican Summer League 2: Yankees 3, Rays 1

Ravel Santana: 2-for-4, HR
Alfredo Castellon: 2-for-4
Mikeson Oliberto: 1-for-2, R, RBI
Melvin Mercedes: 5 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 4 SO

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Banuelos and Betances on the way

TRENTON — Just in time for a huge series with New Hampshire, the Thunder’s rotation is about to get a huge boost.

The Trentonian has confirmed via multiple sources that top Yankees prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances have been promoted to Trenton.

As for the corresponding moves, it is believed D.J. Mitchell will be promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Cory Arbiso will return to a long relief role.

Betances, a 6-foot-8 right-hander coming off of ligament reinforcement surgery late last season, has been destroying the Florida State League since his return on June 10.

During those 14 starts, spanning 71 innings, Betances has allowed just 43 hits and 19 walks. That last figure speaks to the refined control he has featured.

Before this season, Betances had issued 113 walks in 214 1/3 innings. Not exactly Steve Blass, but certainly not the kind of control you’d expect from someone who warranted a $1 million bonus as an eighth-rounder.

The 22-year-old features a fastball that sits comfortably in the mid-90s and can touch close to triple-digits.

With the heater, Betances also throws a 12-to-6 curveball in the low 80s and a mid-80s change-up.

His apex this season came on August 2, when he fanned 11 in six one-hit innings against the Fort Myers Miracle, Minnesota’s High-A affiliate.

As for Banuelos, whom Yankees VP of Baseball Operations Mark Newman has referred to as “the Mexican Whitey Ford,” the numbers aren’t bad, either.

The 19-year-old left-hander, while winless over 12 starts, has nevertheless posted a 2.23 ERA with 62 punchouts over 44 1/3 innings, including two games of double-digit strikeouts since July 21.

Banuelos, who played in the 2009 Futures Game, recently flashed a 97 mile per hour fastball for Frankie Piliere, a former Rangers scout and a current national correspondent for AOL Fanhouse.

In his report, Piliere said that, if he can remain healthy, Banuelos has the potential to be a “true front-of-the-rotation type pitcher.”

Hailing from Monterrey, Mexico, Banuelos came to the Yankees in the same deal as Alfredo Aceves, who, coincidentally, made his third rehab start with the Thunder last night in Portland.

In keeping with their regular days of rest, Banuelos will likely start on Monday, and Betances on Tuesday. That means Adam Warren, who threw 102 pitches in his last start, when he broke the team record with 15 strikeouts against Bowie, would be pushed back to the series finale on Wednesday.

With their new editions, the Thunder’s rotation looks something like this:

1. Banuelos

2. Betances

3. Warren

4. Andrew Brackman

5. Hector Noesi

For the record, each member of that staff was a part of Baseball America’s top 30 Yankees prospects. Banuelos ranked the highest, coming in at No. 6. Brackman was No. 10, Noesi No. 24, Warren No. 26 and Betances No. 28.

Before the promotions were confirmed, there were a few other moves that hinted at what was to come.

To refill the Tampa rotation, Sean Black (a Seton Hall alum) and Josh Romanski were promoted from Charleston. Shane Greene and James Gipson were also bumped up from Staten Island.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Justin Christian breaks the Thunder's steals record

As a bonus today (I meant to post it yesterday but got swamped) here's video of Justin Christian breaking the Thunder's record for career stolen bases. The swipe was Christian's 102nd, passing Kevin Thompson for the top spot.

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Trentonian Q&A with Yankees hitting coordinator James Rowson

TRENTON — During the Thunder’s recently concluded series with the Bowie Baysox, The Trentonian had a chance to speak with Yankees roving hitting coordinator, about the Thunder and some of the more talked-about players throughout the system.

Here’s what he had to say:

JN: What have you seen from guys like Austin Romine and Dan Brewer and Brandon Laird this season?

JR: These guys have done a great job all year, all three of those guys. At different points, obviously all of them have had success this year.

At different points of the year, these guys have gone through downs and ups and been able to get through them. Toward the end of the year now, they’re shining and doing what we think they’re capable of doing.

JN: What do they need to do to keep away from the ups and downs, to get some more consistency?

JR: With these guys, when you get to this level, it’s a lot of experience, at-bats and game plan. The more pitchers you face, the different types and styles of pitchers, they’ll get more comfortable with setting a game plan to face more pitchers. At this point, it’s really experience more than anything else.

JN: Specifically, with Romine, has he done what you wanted him to do at this level?

JR: No doubt about it. Romine’s had a really good year this year. Like I said, this is the first year he’s caught a lot of games, he’s played a lot of defense. He hasn’t done that in the past. He’s been able to maintain his offense.

Yes, he gone through a lot of ups and downs throughout the year, but he’s battled through them. At this point, he’s right where we’d like him to be. I’m happy with what he’s done this year.

JN: What have you seen from Melky Mesa? What kind of progress has he made, and do you think he’s ready for Double-A next season?

JR: He’s made outstanding progress this year. He’s had a really solid season at Tampa. He had a spurt last year where he had a really good season in Charleston at some point. We’re looking forward to him being able to conquer Double-A at some point.

When that move happens, obviously that’s going to be an organizational decision, but we look forward to, when that move happens, he’ll be able to compete well here.

JN: Same deal with Slade Heathcott and J.R. Murphy. What’s their progress been like this year at Charleston?

JR: We just want them to adapt. They’re young players coming into the organization, and this year we just kind of let those guys play and show their ability, show their talents and adapt to playing pro ball.

It definitely takes some time coming from high school to adapt to pro ball and the life style and the bus rides and everything else that goes along with playing baseball.

Really, we’re excited about those guys. They’re talented, and we want them to get as many at-bats and just adapt to pro baseball as good as possible.

JN: With Murphy, who’s coming out of a baseball factory like The Pendleton School, do you expect that adjustment period to be shorter?

JR: You know, you can’t tell. Murphy’s a really, really polished kid, in a way. He’s very polished, knows how to go about his business, does things very professional, goes about things the right way.

But you never can tell, it’s just going to be, when you come into the game and start getting at-bats, you start facing competition, and we’ll let the game tell us where he is as a player.

JN: What are the early returns on Gary Sanchez, who just got promoted to Staten Island?

JR: Really talented young player. He can impact the baseball. He impacts the baseball as well as anybody we have. He’s fun to watch, a really talented young player. Right now, he’s done well in the GCL. We just want to let him progress and see how he goes from year to year.

There’s no rush. The thing’s going to be, just dominate every level, and as you move forward we’ll take it as it goes. It’s really exciting to see what he does, because you can’t teach what he does. He’s just a talented athlete.

JN: How does he compare to Jesus Montero when he was that age?

JR: It’s very close. They both are plus-plus bats. Both of those guys swing bats – I’ve been doing this for a little while in baseball – and those are two of the best young bats I’ve seen. Sanchy’s right there with Jesus Montero, so let’s just see what time does for them.

JN: Speaking of Montero, he struggled early in the year and now is raking. What changed?

JR: It’s just what we were talking about, it’s the adjustment period. There was no doubt that Jesus Montero was going to hit in Triple-A. The guy’s going to hit in the major leagues.

He’s a good hitter, he has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball. They pitched him a little differently; he had to learn how to deal with some of the offspeed pitches and the ways he pitched. (There are) experienced pitchers facing him now, (and) he’s adapted this season. He’s right where we want him to be. He’s a good hitter, and he’s proven it.

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Betances and Banuelos on their way up; Mitchell out?

I just got done confirming through a source that Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, two of the system's top pitching prospects, are coming to Trenton.

No word yet on who is leaving the rotation, but my source hinted at D.J. Mitchell, which would make sense, seeing as he is the only starter who hasn't already been promoted once this season, save for Cory Arbiso.

Here's how that rotation would shake down, it would seem, if my predictions are correct:

1. Manny Banuelos
2. Dellin Betances
3. Hector Noesi
4. Andrew Brackman
5. Adam Warren

In this plan, Cory Arbiso heads back to the bullpen, despite the strong outing yesterday.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Zach McAllister dealt to Indians

Last year's Thunder ace and the starter for the Eastern League All-Star game, Zach McAllister, was dealt to the Cleveland Indians a few minutes ago as the player to be named later in the Austin Kearns deal.

McAllister was rumored to have been part of the package that would have sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners, but the trade fell through when Seattle got negative reviews about the health of second baseman David Adams.

With Scranton this season, McAllister was 8-10 with a 5.09 ERA in 24 starts, including a complete game. He had allowed 165 hits in 132 2/3 innings, with 20 home runs thrown in. He fanned 88 hitters and walked 38.

McAllister reacted via Twitter, saying:

"Traded to Cleveland ... it's been fun tho Scranton! I'm going to miss my Yankee teammates. Looking forward to the beginning of a new chapter."

With McAllister gone, the Scranton rotation now consists of: Ivan Nova, Lance Pendleton and David Phelps. Jason Hirsh is on the disabled list, and will more than likely move back into the rotation when he returns. Kei Igawa is a candidate to fill the vacancy.

McAllister's dad, Steve, is a crosschecker for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Around the system - August 18

Triple-A Scranton 9, Columbus 2

Eduardo Nunez: 2-for-5, 2 R
Jesus Montero: 2-for-4, HR, 2 R, BB
Juan Miranda: 4-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R
Jorge Vazquez: 2-for-5, 2B, 2 R
Chad Huffman: 2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI
Ivan Nova: 6 2/3, 5 H, R, ER, 4 BB, 7 SO

Double-A: Trenton 3, Bowie 0

Justin Christian: 2-for-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB
Austin Romine: 1-for-4, 2B, RBI
Matt Cusick: 1-for-2, R, BB
Dan Brewer: 1-for-4, RBI
Adam Warren: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 15 SO

High-A: Clearwater 7, Tampa 3

Ray Kruml: 2-for-4, BB
Addison Maruszak: 2-for-4, RBI
Walter Ibarra: 2-for-2, 2 BB
Melky Mesa: 0-for-2, R, BB, RBI, SB
Manny Banuelos: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO

Low-A: Rome 2, Charleston 0

DeAngelo Mack: 1-for-3, BB
Kyle Higashioka: 1-for-3
Josh Romanski: 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, R, ER, BB, 3 SO

Short Season: Staten Island 3, Brooklyn 1

Casey Stevenson: 1-for-4, HR
Kyle Roller: 0-for-3, 2 BB
Shane Brown: 1-for-3, 2B, RBI, BB
Luis Parache: 1-for-3, 2B, R, BB
Nik Turley: 6 IP, 3 H, R, ER, BB, 6 SO

Gulf Coast League: Yankees 7, Pirates 6

Rob Segedin: 2-for-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Ramon Flores: 1-for-5, HR, 3 RBI
Eladio Moronta: 1-for-3, R, RBI, BB

Dominican Summer League 1: Yankees 4, Marlins 2

Claudio Custodio: 2-for-5, R
Elio De La Rosa: 2-for-4, RBI
Yeicok Calderon: 1-for-5, RBI
Isaias Tejeda: 1-for-4, 2B, R

Dominican Summer League 2 (Game One): Indians 4, Yankees 2

Francisco Duran: 1-for-3, 3B
Rainiero Coa: 1-for-3, BB
Jose Javier: 0-for-1, R, BB

Dominican Summer League 2 (Game Two): Indians 3, Yankees 2

Jerison Lopez: 2-for-3, 2B
Edwin Fulgencio: 1-for-3, R
Ali Castillo: 1-for-3, 2B, R

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Adam Warren's Record Setting Night

Quick question: What do Adam Warren and the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders have in common? Both brought a tandem of blazing heat and devastating curves last night to Waterfront Park, a combination that, for both, rendered all comers weak in the knees.

For Warren, the combination helped him blaze through the Bowie Baysox en route to a 3-0 Thunder win. The night included 15 strikeouts from Warren, a new Thunder record and a new career high for the Yankees' fourth-round selection from a year ago.

His strikeouts included a stretch of five in a row, 13 swinging and two looking, and three apiece from Tyler Henson and Joel Guzman, EL All-Stars both. Guzman is also the circuit's home run leader and is a viable candidate for league MVP.

Below are videos of strikeouts number 13, 14 and 15, which were, in order, Joe Mahoney, Brandon Waring and Caleb Joseph, the brother of Thunder second baseman Corban Joseph.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Whelan called up; Venditte next?

Kevin Whelan was called up to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre yesterday, leaving the team a pitcher short as it heads to the stretch run -- for now.

As most everybody who follows the Yankees system knows, there are quite a few arms in Tampa that are deserving of a call to Double-A, and not just starters. Two relievers immediately jump out as guys who needed a promotion -- yesterday.

The first is obvious: Pat Venditte. The nationally known switch pitcher has been mowing down the competition all year for the T-Yanks and, at 25, is a bit old for the level. With 78 strikeouts and just 42 hits allowed in 64 2/3 innings, it's clear High-A is no longer a challenge.

Want more proof? How about a .181 batting average against? How about a 1.81 ERA? How about two home runs allowed? How about 12 walks? No matter how you slice it, the kid deserves a call to Trenton.

The other, almost equally deserving, pitcher is Jonathan Ortiz, who has racked up 19 saves and a tidy .197 average against. Of course, that number is higher than Venditte's. Same goes for his ERA.

Both pitchers are deserving, but Venditte has done just slightly better.

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Around the System - August 17

Triple-A: Columbus 5, Scranton 1

Juan Miranda: 2-for-4, R
Jesus Montero: 1-for-4
Greg Golson: 1-for-3, 2B
Zach McAllister: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO

Double-A: Bowie 4, Trenton 2

Justin Christian: 1-for-2, 2B, R, 2 BB, SB
Corban Joseph: 1-for-4
Austin Romine: 1-for-4
Marcos Vechionacci: 1-for-3, R
Andrew Brackman: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO

High-A: PPD

Low-A: Charleston 5, Rome 0

Slade Heathcott: 1-for-2, 2B, R, RBI, 2 BB
DeAngelo Mack: 2-for-4, 2 RBI
Emerson Landoni: 2-for-3, 2 R, RBI
Kevin Mahoney: 1-for-3, R
Sean Black: 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 0 R, BB, 9 SO

Short Season: NO GAME

Gulf Coast League: Yankees 11, Braves 6

Rob Segedin: 0-for-3, HBP, R
Ramon Flores: 3-for-4, 3 R, SB
Gary Sanchez: 2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, BB
Anderson Feliz: 3-for-5, 3B, R, 4 RBI, SB
Jhorge Liccien: 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Around the System - August 16

Triple-A: Scranton 7, Toledo 4

Jesus Montero: 0-for-3, 2 RBI, SF
Juan Miranda: 1-for-4, 2 RBI, BB
Colin Curtis: 3-for-4, 2B
Eric Bruntlett: 1-for-2, HR, BB, 3 R
Jorge Vazquez: 1-for-4, HR
Jason Hirsh: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, SO

Double-A: OFF

High-A: Tampa 5, Daytona 3

Ray Kruml: 2-for-5
Brad Suttle: 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 R
Melky Mesa: 2-for-3, 2 R, BB
Zoilo Almonte: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R
Walter Ibarra: 3-for-3, 2 RBI
Craig Heyer: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO

Low-A: Charleston 5, Hickory 0

DeAngelo Mack: 2-for-4, 3 RBI
Slade Heathcott: 0-for-4, R, RBI
Rob Lyerly: 1-for-4, 2B
Emerson Landoni: 2-for-3, 2B, R, BB, SB
Michael Solbach: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 3 SO

Short Season: OFF

Gulf Coast League: Braves 10, Yankees 5

Cito Culver: 0-for-5, R
Ramon Flores: 0-for-4, BB, R
Gary Sanchez: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB
Damian Taveras: 2-for-2, RBI, BB
Jose Toussen: 2-for-3, RBI, BB

Dominican Summer League 1: Giants 15, Yankees 1

Elio De La Rosa: 2-for-3
Claudio Custodio: 1-for-4
Yeicok Calderon: 1-for-4, R
Ericson Leonora: 1-for-3

Dominican Summer League 2: Astros 2, Yankees 1

Mikeson Oliberto: 1-for-4, HR
Rafael Polo: 1-for-5
Gian Arias: 1-for-4, BB
Jose Javier: 1-for-4

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Orlando Hernandez dazzles against Thunder

TRENTON — Yes, Orlando Hernandez is 41 years old. Or 45. Or closer to 50. It all depends on which publication you believe.

What isn’t in question, however, is that he still possesses much of the same nastiness he first displayed 12 years ago when he debuted with the Yankees.

The trademark high leg kick is gone, but the dizzying arsenal of pitches and speeds and arm angles still remains, and the Thunder bore witness to his magic last Friday, when the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, paid Waterfront Park a visit.

Hernandez faced the meat of the Thunder order in the eighth inning: Dan Brewer, Austin Romine, Corban Joseph and Marcos Vechionacci.

The results? Brewer flew out weakly to center, Romine fanned at a nasty hook, Joseph slapped a single between short and third, and Vechionacci finished the inning with a weak roller to second.

The highlight of his appearance to anyone who was there was the slow-as-syrup eephus pitch he used to start the at-bat against Joseph.

Competing radar guns measured the pitch at somewhere between 46 and 55 miles per hour, an eternity compared the repertoire of Harrisburg’s previous pitcher, Chuck James, whose average change-up average 78 miles per in 2008, his last season in the major leagues.

For Tony Franklin, whose professional career started four decades ago, Friday was the first time he’d seen the eephus, or anything close to it, in game action.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen it when I’ve been involved in a game,” he said. “I’d never seen anybody do it in a game that I’ve participated in. As much I’ve seen it on television, it took me by surprise. It was quite a pitch.”

In 9 1/3 innings this season in the minors, Hernandez has allowed just two runs (one earned) and has fanned a baker’s dozen.

He won four World Series rings over nine major league seasons but hasn’t thrown a pitch in the show for three seasons.

So, after such an extended hiatus, what could possibly push El Duque out of retirement?

“I like baseball,” Hernandez said after Friday’s outing. “What is my reason for staying here? It’s to play baseball. I don’t care if it’s a bus or it’s a plane or whatever. I’m happy with my teammates and am enjoying the time.”

Even though they’re just four wins away from matching their total for all of 2009, the Nationals are still parked firmly in the National League East’s cellar.

With that in mind, there’s probably a good shot Washington calls up Hernandez once rosters expand on Sept. 1.

His addition would immediately give the Nats another drawing card to pair with wunderkind Stephen Strasburg. It also would put him on the same staff as his half-brother, starter Livan Hernandez, who, at 35, isn’t exactly a spring chicken.

Orlando is unsure of a return to the majors this season, but he’s sure as hell going to do everything he can to force Washington’s hand.

If the call doesn’t come, though, he’ll still have been happy for the opportunity.

“I’ll try. I’ll try to come back to major league baseball. It’s my goal, but right now it’s just about helping my teammates,” Hernandez said.

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Hector Noesi dominates Harrisburg

TRENTON - When Hector Noesi first was promoted to Trenton, the hype couldn’t have been higher. He tore up the Florida State League and was poised to add even more power to a rotation that, led by David Phelps, was establishing itself as a dominant force.

The ace of early summer was back in full force last night, cutting through a Harrisburg that, the night before, had its way with Trenton. The result was a 3-2 Thunder win that gave the team a shot in the arm after a deflating loss a night earlier.

Noesi delivered the seven most brilliant innings thrown at Waterfront Park this season, allowing just two hits and no walks and earning his first win since July 4, also against Harrisburg.

“I think that was a magnificent performance from the previous two or three performances,” manager Tony Franklin said afterward. “He was outstanding. Total command of himself, the hitters, the strike zone. That’s major league pitching right there.”

The effort, fueled in part by a mechanical change instilled by pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, put Noesi firmly back to where he had been before a recent stretch of ugly outings.

From June 1 until July 20 – spanning nine starts – the 23-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic posted a 1.35 ERA, tops in the circuit. He fanned 50 against just 10 bases on balls and compiled a league-best WHIP of 0.90.

After nearly two months in the rotation, he had joined Phelps as the team’s twin aces. Then, out of absolutely nowhere, he went very sour very quickly.

Over his next three starts, opponents hit Noesi like he was throwing batting practice. The league reached him for 19 runs (all earned) in 11 2/3 frames. That works out to a 14.66 ERA, or the worst in the league by more than a run and a half.

In his last start, Tuesday at Altoona, there were positives and negatives. Yes, he gave up 10 hits and a walk over five innings, but he also managed to limit the Curve to a lone run. Whether he was out of his funk was unclear.

That is, until last night, when a lengthening of his stride improved the command of his pitches and their corresponding crispness.

“His stride was shortening,” pitching coach Tommy Phelps said. “Nardi’s the one that picked it up. He came into town and saw him pitch last time, so all we did was lengthen his stride a little bit to get the ball out front and help him finish a lot better.”

A throwing error on catcher Devin Ivany allowed Justin Christian, who had walked to lead off the contest, to score the opening run. A double from Corban Joseph and a single from Marcos Vechionacci in the third brought home the other two scores.

Ryan Pope allowed two runs in the ninth, but got a grounder to short from Somerset native Tim Pahuta to ground weakly into a fielder’s choice to end the game.

NOTES: Rehabbing Yankees reliever Alfredo Aceves will make his second appearance on Tuesday against Bowie. Andrew Brackman will relieve him.

That's Marcos Vechionacci in the picture. He drove in a run yesterday.

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Nardi Contreras on the Thunder rotation

I spoke with Yankees roving pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras on Saturday, and here's what he had to say about the Thunder's staff, after seeing all but Arbiso one time.

JN: After seeing this rotation once through, what are your thoughts on how it looks late in the season.

NC: I haven’t seen anything I’ve disliked. Everything is good. I saw D.J. (on Friday) was very good. He’s got tremendous sink, a great curveball, a great change-up. He’s just got to get more consistent with the control of his fastball, but he’s got great stuff, so he will succeed.

I saw Brackman the best I’ve ever seen Brackman. He commanded his fastball, threw his curveball. He walked one guy in six innings, gave up three or four hits. He commanded his fastball and curveball and threw some quality sliders, so his slider is coming. He even threw some quality changeups, so that’s coming.

(Hector) Noesi threw a lot of strikes but he was up too much, so he’s just got to get the ball down. He’s got the curveball, and his slider has improved. He’s got the change-up and he throws strikes.

Our kids are not walking anybody. They’re throwing strikes, so they’ve got a chance to get people out.

Warren’s got to improve his curveball. He throws the ball hard and throws strikes with his fastball. He relies on his fastball a little bit too much, so he’s got to spend a little bit of time with the offspeed pitch. At Tampa he probably got away with a lot with his fastball.

The higher you go, you’d better be able to mix in some of your offspeed pitches. I think he’s starting to learn that he’s got to mix in some of his offspeed pitches. I think he’ll be all right. He’s a strike thrower, and he’s not scared to throw strikes.

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Around the System - August 15

Triple-A: Toledo 7, Scranton 4

Kevin Russo: 3-for-5, 2 R
Greg Golson: 2-for-5, 2 2B
Colin Curtis: 2-for-3, HR, BB
Eric Bruntlett: 1-for-4, HR
Jesus Montero: 1-for-5, RBI
Lance Pendleton: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO

Double-A: Trenton 3, Harrisburg 2

Corban Joseph: 1-for-2, 2B, R, RBI, 2 BB, SB
Marcos Vechionacci: 2-for-4, RBI
Matt Cusick: 2-for-4
Dan Brewer: 1-for-4, 2B
Hector Noesi: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 SO

High-A: Tampa 5, Daytona 2 (Game One)

Ray Kruml: 2-for-4, 2 R, RBI
Jose Pirela: 4-for-4, 3 RBI
Brad Suttle: 2-for-3, 2B, BB
Walter Ibarra: 2-for-3, 2 R
Graham Stoneburner: 7 IP (CG), 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO

High-A: Tampa 1, Daytona 0 (Game Two)

Ray Kruml: 1-for-2, SB
Myron Leslie: 1-for-2, R
Jose Pirela: 0-for-2, BB, SB
Pat Venditte: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO

Low-A: Charleston 8, Hickory 4

Slade Heathcott: 1-for-4, 2B, R, BB
J.R. Murphy: 2-for-5, R, 2 RBI
Luke Murton: 2-for-3, HR, 2 BB
Kevin Mahoney: 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Brett Marshall: 5 IP, 3 H, R, ER, 4 BB, 5 SO

Short Season: Staten Island 6, Tri-City 5

Shane Brown: 2-for-5, 2B, R
Kyle Roller: 1-for-5, R, RBI
Kelvin De Leon: 1-for-4, HR
Mike Ferraro: 2-for-3, 2 R, 3 RBI
Nick McCoy: 2-for-4, RBI, SB
Zachary Varce: 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 2 R 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nardi Contreras Part 1

I spoke with Yankees pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras earlier today about a variety of topics. Part one of that interview, with highlights about Pat Venditte, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and the Arizona Fall League, is here. Enjoy.

JN:Do you have any idea which guys in the system are going to be in the Arizona Fall League?

NC: We’ve got a group of about eight guys, and that call will come from Mr. Mark Newman. I gave him eight names. I’m sure Pat Roessler’s given him some names. And if Mark Newman’s seen these guys, I’m sure he’s got his own names. Then I think from there we will have four, three relievers and a starter. I’m sure it will come down to innings, who’s healthy and who’s not.

JN: When you send people down there, is it just to work on things, like a particular pitch or what have you?

NC: Some need innings. They need that because they couldn’t get enough innings. Usually that’s what it is. We’ll take the guys that we’re working with sometimes to instructional league. We might take somebody that needs the work to get that in an area, and then send them to Arizona after that as that name, hoping that the work we do in the instructional league prior to going to Arizona will get them on the right foot and then let them compete out there.

JN: Would guys down there like Banuelos and Betances, who haven’t had that many innings this year, qualify?

NC: Betances will end up with more than 100 innings, and he didn’t have many last year. He’s only going about 80 pitches, so he’ll pitch five innings, four innings, six innings, and he’s hitting his start every fifth day. He won’t be part of that Arizona thing, because he’s made that jump from the very few innings of last year to (what he’s thrown now). He’s been pretty good.

JN: And Banuelos?

NC: Banuelos will probably come to instructional leagues. I’m not sure if he’s allowed to go to the AFL, because he probably is owned by a team in Mexico for the winter. … If he’s able to, it’d be great, because he started late because of (the appendectomy).

JN: Pat Venditte, do you expect him to come up here toward the end, or is he in Tampa for the long haul?

NC: It’s all about movement (through the system). You’ve got Kontos and Whelan here who could be pitching in Triple-A. Schmitty could to Triple-A. It’s all about movement. Who’s going to go to the big leagues? Do we lose guys in trades? If there’s openings, then there’s movement. If there’s no openings, there’s no movement. Tampa’s in first place. (Trenton’s) in first place. Triple-A is in first place. Where we can move guys from is Charleston, who’s not in first place. In September, I would think Nova’s going to the big leagues. I would think Albaladejo’s going to the big leagues. When that happens, there’s two openings. I would say if there’s movement from here (to Scranton) and then from Tampa to here and then from Charleston to Tampa.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Around the System - August 13

Triple-A: Scranton 3, Toledo 2

Eduardo Nunez: 2-for-4, R, RBI, BB, 2 SB
Jesus Montero: 1-for-5, 2B
Greg Golson: 0-for-2, R, 2 BB, 2 SB
Reid Gorecki: 2-for-4, 2 2B, R, SB
Ivan Nova: 7 IP, H, R, ER, BB, 8 SO

Double-A: Trenton 4, Harrisburg 1

Dan Brewer: 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Austin Romine: 1-for-4, RBI
Marcos Vechionacci: 1-for-4, 2B
D.J. Mitchell: 6 IP, 5 H, R, 2 BB, 6 SO, 10 groundouts
Alfredo Aceves: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, SO

High-A: Tampa 14, Clearwater 3

Melky Mesa: 2-for-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Jose Pirela: 2-for-5, 2 R, RBI, SB
Ray Kruml: 1-for-4, 3B, R, BB
Brad Suttle: 1-for-3, R, 3 RBI, BB
Addison Maruszak: 3-for-5, 2 R, RBI
Jack Rye: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
Dellin Betances: 5 IP, 5 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 9 SO

Low-A: Charleston 18, Hickory 4

J.R. Murphy: 3-for-6, 2 HR (grand slam), 3 R, 9 RBI
Slade Heathcott: 3-for-4, 4 R, 2 BB
DeAngelo Mack: 2-for-6, 2 R, RBI
Rob Lyerly: 2-for-6, 2 R, RBI
Kyle Higashioka: 2-for-4, R, RBI, 2 BB
Neil Medchill: 1-for-6, 3 RBI
Josh Romanski: 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, BB, 5 SO

Short Season: Tri-City 2, Staten Island 1

Garrison Lassiter: 3-for-5, 2B
Luis Parache: 2-for-4
Kyle Roller: 1-for-3
Nik Turley: 6 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 4 SO

Gulf Coast League: Blue Jays 11, Yankees 5

Cito Culver: 2-for-4, R, RBI, BB
Ramon Flores: 2-for-4, R, BB
Jose Toussen: 2-for-4, 2B, R
Fu-Lin Kuo: 3-for-4, R
Jorge Alcantara: 2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI
Gary Sanchez: 1-for-4, RBI

Dominican Summer League 1: Phillies 2, Yankees 1

Isaias Tejeda: 3-for-4, 2B, RBI, BB
Jerison Lopez: 1-for-5
Jackson Valera: 1-for-5, 2B
Kenedy Agramonte: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 SO

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Wrapping up a great day

The Thunder topped Harrisburg tonight, 4-1, and there were two obvious shining stars: Dan Brewer and D.J. Mitchell. Brewer's three-run shot gave Trenton the edge it needed, and Mitchell continued his excellent work since the All-Star break.

Brewer credited a lot of his recent success -- he's now 16 of his last 34 (.471/.537/1.184) with 10 RBIs in his last 10 games --to a change hitting coach Frank Menechino made in his stance.

“Ever since the break, Frank and I have kind of evaluated my first half and where my swing was at, We made an adjustment with my stance, and it’s really helping me out, it’s helping me stay shorter."

"My approach mentally, especially, has been a big key. I’ve hit open my entire life, to be honest, and I closed it off and shortened my stride. It felt like I was facing right field (at first). But now, it feels pretty comfortable to me. It’s really helping me stay inside the ball and let my hands work a lot more.”

After Alfredo Aceves, in Trenton for the first of (as he tells it) at least two rehab starts, left, Mitchell entered. The Clemson alum tossed six innings of stellar baseball, and allowed just one unearned run in the process. He got 10 groundouts, six strikeouts, one pickoff and a flyout during his appearance. In summation, that's a 10:1 groundout-to-airout ratio, and it's pretty damn sick.

Here's Mitchell talking about his night:

As referred to earlier, Alfredo Aceves made a rehab appearance. Here's video footage to prove it.

Also, former Yankees hero Orlando Hernandez is now a reliever with Harrisburg. Here's video footage of him facing Brewer and Austin Romine.

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