Blogs > Minor Matters

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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Winter League Update: Games of 10/30

Arizona Fall League

Jose Pirela: 2-for-4, 3 R
Ryan Pope: 2/3 IP, 3 H, R, ER, BB, SO

Venezuelan Winter League

Edwar Gonzalez: 0-for-1
Marcos Vechionacci: 2-for-4, 2B, R

Mexican League

Justin Christian: 1-for-3, R
Walter Ibarra: 1-for-4, R
Francisco Gil: 2 IP, 3 H, R, ER, BB

Puerto Rican League

Rene Rivera: 0-for-4, BB

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Winter League Update - Games of 10/28

Arizona Fall League

Brandon Laird: 0-for-3
Jose Pirela: 1-for-3
Manny Banuelos: 3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, BB, 4 SO

Mexican League:

Justin Christian: 1-for-2, 2 BB
Walter Ibarra: 3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, 2 Errors
Eric Wordekemper: IP, H 0 R, 0 BB, SO

Puerto Rican League

Rene Rivera: 1-for-3, HR

Venezuelan League

Marcos Vechionacci: 0-for-3, 2 BB
Jose Gil: 1-for-3, 2B, RBI, Error

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Phillies and Pirates Instructional League Notes

Earlier today, I spoke to a very good scout friend who attended both Phillies and Pirates Instructional League action this fall. He had a lot of great stuff to say about both clubs, especially the Phillies, who, despite their paltry returns in the Cliff Lee deal, boast one of the deepest and most talented farm systems in the game.

On Jarred Cosart, who missed most of the year with an elbow issue:

His fastball is back. His breaking ball looks good, but it still needs work.

On Nick Hernandez, a command artist who missed most of the year with a shoulder strain

I was disappointed. He was at 83-86 with the fastball and was all over the place. Something's not right. He walked the park when I saw him.

On Jonathan Singleton, the teenage slugger who is moving the outfield:

Looked very good in left field. Did not look out of place. He has enough of an arm and athleticism to stay at the position. ... The plate discipline impresses me the most, very rare to see that kind of command of the strike zone at such a young age.

On Jesse Biddle, the team's first-rounder from 2010:

Good body. He's got an average fastball, but the 12-to-6 curveball is his signature pitch. He's got a chance to be good, but not top-of-the rotation good.

On Cameron Rupp, a catcher the team took in the third round:

He's got a lot of raw power, but there are a lot of holes in his swing. He's a fringy prospect who can run into a fastball, but he's also very long to the ball.

On Mel Rojas Jr., the Pirates' third-rounder

I'm not really impressed. He's plenty athletic, but I'm not buying the bat.

On Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh's first-rounder:

He has a chance to be special. If it weren't for Harper, he could have been the No. 1 pick.

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Winter League Update: Games of 10/27

Arizona Fall League

Craig Heyer: 2 IP, H, R, ER, 2 BB, 2 SO
Austin Romine: 2-for-4, BB
Brandon Laird: 1-for-4, HR, BB
Jose Pirela: 3-for-4, 2 2B, R, SB, Error

Dominican Winter League:

Jonathan Ortiz: IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, SO
Zack Segovia: 1 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, SO

Mexican League:

Justin Christian: 1-for-3, R, BB, SB
Walter Ibarra: 1-for-4, R
Eric Wordekemper: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO

Puerto Rican League:

Rene Rivera: 1-for-3, Caught a runner stealing

Venezuelan League:

Marcos Vechionacci: 2-for-4, 2B
Jose Gil: 1-for-2, BB

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Winter League Update: Games of 10/26

Arizona Fall League:

Brandon Laird: 1-for-3, 2B, R, RBI, 2 BB
Jose Pirela: 1-for-4, RBI, BB
Ryan Pope: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO
George Kontos: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, ER, 0 BB, SO

Venezuelan Winter League:

Edwar Gonzalez: 0-for-0, BB, R
Marcos Vechionacci: 2-for-4, R, RBI, BB, SB

Mexican League:

Walter Ibarra: 1-for-3
Justin Christian: 3-for-5, 2 R, HR, SB

Puerto Rican Winter League:

Rene Rivera: 2-for-4, HR, 2 R

Dominican League:

Wilkins Arias: IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Winter League Update: Games of 10/25

Arizona Fall League:

Austin Romine: 1-for-4, 2B, RBI
Brandon Laird: 1-for-4, 2B, RBI


Monday, October 25, 2010

Yankees System Chat - 10/26


Winter League Update: Games of 10/23

Arizona Fall League

Manny Banuelos: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 ER, BB, 3 SO
Brandon Laird: 2-for-4, 2B
Jose Pirela: 0-for-4

Venezuelan Winter League:

Marcos Vechionacci: 1-for-4
Luis Nunez: Played, but no at-bats
Jose Gil: 1-for-4, RBI

Mexican League:

Justin Christian: 1-for-3, 2 R, 2 SB, RBI, 2 BB
Walter Ibarra: 2-for-3, R, BB, SB

Dominican League:

Zack Segovia: IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, SO, SV
Wilkins Arias: 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Winter League Update: Games of 10/22

Arizona Fall League

Austin Romine: 0-for-4, RBI
Jose Pirela: 0-for-4, Error
Craig Heyer: 3 IP, 2 H, R, ER, BB, SO
Ryan Pope: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, SO
George Kontos: IP, 4 H, 3 R, ER, 0 BB, SO, Error

Mexican League

Eric Wordekemper: 2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO
Walter Ibarra: 1-for-3, 2B, RBI, R
Justin Christian: 3-for-5

Venezuelan League:

Jose Gil: 0-for-3
Marcos Vechionacci: 2-for-4, RBI

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Winter League Update: Games of 10/21

Arizona Fall League

Austin Romine: 0-for-4, BB
Brandon Laird: 2-for-4, 2B, HR (2), 4 RBIs

Venezuelan Winter League

Edwar Gonzalez: 1-for-1, 2B, R
Marcos Vechionacci: 3-for-4, R

Mexican League:

Justin Christian: 1-for-5, R, SB
Walter Ibarra: 0-for-1, R

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Winter League Update: Day 7

Arizona Fall League

Austin Romine: 1-for-4, 2B, RBI, Passed Ball
Brandon Laird: 1-for-4, 2B, Error
Jose Pirela: 0-for-4, 2 Errors
Manny Banuelos: 4 IP, 3 H, R, 0 ER, BB, SO
Craig Heyer: 2 IP, 3 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 0 SO

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Winter League Update: Day 6

Mexican League

Justin Christian: 3-for-4, HR, Picked Off
Walter Ibarra: 0-for-1, BB

Venezuelan League

Jose Gil: 1-for-3

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Winter League Update: Day 5

Arizona Fall League

Jose Pirela: 0-for-4, BB

Venezuelan Winter League

Marcos Vechionacci: 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, 2 SB
Jose Gil: 2-for-4, HR, 2 R

Mexican League

Justin Christian: 2-for-5, SB
Walter Ibarra: 1-for-3, 2 R, BB
Eric Wordekemper: 1/3 IP, H, 2 R, ER,

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Winter League Update: Day 4

Arizona Fall League

Austin Romine: 1-for-4 (3 SO)
Brandon Laird: 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
George Kontos: IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO

Mexican League

Justin Christian: 2-for-5
Walter Ibarra: 2-for-3, R, SB

Venezuelan League

Marcos Vechionacci: 0-for-4

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Winter League Update: Day 3

Arizona Fall League

Austin Romine: 3-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI, SB
Brandon Laird: 2-for-4, 2B, R, BB
Jose Pirela: 1-for-4, R, RBI
Craig Heyer: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, SO (23 pitches, 14 strikes)
Ryan Pope: IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, SO (20 pitches, 13 strikes)

Venezuelan Winter League

Marcos Vechionacci: 1-for-4, R
Josh Schmidt: 4 IP, 2 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 5 SO
Luis Nunez: 0-for-3
Jose Gil: 1-for-3

Mexican League

No players yesterday

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Winter League Recap: Day 2

Arizona Fall League

Manny Banuelos: 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, SO

Venezuelan Winter League

Marcos Vechionacci: 0-for-4
Luis Nunez: 2-for-4, R
Jose Gil: 1-for-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI

Mexican League

Eric Wordekemper: IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO (2 GO, 1 FO)
Justin Christian: 1-for-4, RBI, SB

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Winter League Update: Day 1

Arizona Fall League

Austin Romine: 1-for-4, Passed Ball
Brandon Laird: 1-for-4, R, reached on error
Jose Pirela: 1-for-4, R, SB
George Kontos: 1 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO

Venezuelan League

Marcos Vechionacci: 0-for-1, BB
Jose Gil: 4-for-6, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI

Mexican League

Walter Ibarra: 2-for-5, 2B, R

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More Winter League action

In addition to the Arizona Fall League, the Venezuelan and Mexican Winter Leagues begin today. And, just like the Phoenix Desert Dogs, there are Yankees farmhands sprinkled across both circuits.

After a brief but exhaustive search, here are your 2010 Yankees Mexican and Venezuelan Winter Leaguers:


Edwar Gonzalez - OF - Cardenales de Lara
Josh Schmidt - P - Aguilas de Zulia
Luis Nunez - SS - Aguilas de Zulia
Juan Marcano - P - Caribes de Anzoategui
Emerson Landoni - 2B - Caribes de Anzoategui
Eduardo Sosa - OF - Caribes de Anzoategui
Jesus Montero - C - Navagantes del Magallanes
Marcos Vechionacci - Navagantes del Magallanes


Justin Christian - OF - Caneros de los Mochis
Eric Wordekemper - P - Tomateros de Culiacan
Walter Ibarra - SS - Naranjeros de Hermosillo

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Screw the ALCS, the Arizona Fall League is here

Yes, yes, the Yankees have advanced to the American League Championship Series. That's fine. Over here at Minor Matters, however, we care naught for things that concern the big club.

That means today, even with the Bombers off until Friday, big things are going on. The Arizona Fall League begins at 12:35 p.m., when the Phoenix Desert Dogs (which houses the Yankees players) meet the Mesa Solar Sox.

As I mentioned earlier on the blog, the Yankees on the Desert Dogs roster are:

C - Austin Romine
2B - Jose Pirela
OF - Brandon Laird
P - George Kontos
P - Craig Heyer
P - Ryan Pope
P - Manny Banuelos

In today's matchup, Romine, the Thunder's catcher, will face his brother Andrew, an infielder in the Angels system. Without looking it up, I am fairly certain this is the first time the two have met in a professional setting.

Also featured on the Mesa roster are:

- Justin Wilson, the Altoona lefty who sent the Thunder from the Eastern League playoffs.

- Brett Jackson, who, along with Laird was the other minor leaguer to complete a cycle with a walk-off home run. Carlos Gonzalez accomplished the feat in the MLB.

- Chris Carpenter, a Cubs farmhand who was drafted by the Yankees in 2007 (18th round).

- Matt Rizzotti, a slugging Phillies first baseman who hit an astonishing .343/.430/.985 with 17 home runs and 76 RBIs split among three levels.

- Brad Holt, Mesa's opening starter and a Mets prospect who struggled mightily with control (79 walks in 95 innings) and saw his stock fall dramatically.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ryan Pope added to the Arizona Fall League

After a tip from a very good source this morning, I've been able to find out that Ryan Pope has been added to the Yankees' group of prospects headed to the Arizona Fall League, bringing the list to seven.

Pope was mentioned early as a candidate, but he wasn't on the roster when the season ended. Once Hector Noesi arrived, Pope was converted to the bullpen, and finished the year as the team's closer. He racked up 17 saves and struck out 62 in 57 1/3 IP.

Pope joins Austin Romine, Brandon Laird, Jose Pirela, George Kontos, Manny Banuelos and Craig Heyer on the Phoenix Desert Dogs roster. Coach Danny Borrell and trainer Scott DiFrancesco will also be on the coaching staff.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Despite anonymity, Franklin seeks a job in the MLB

Over 15 seasons of managing in the minor leagues, Tony Franklin has accomplished quite a bit.

He’s won 925 out of 1,755 games, good for a .527 winning percentage.

He’s taken seven of his teams — including three of his four Thunder squads — to the playoffs.

And in three of those postseasons, he’s guided his club all the way to the top — in 2007 and 2008 with the Thunder, and in 1993 with the Midwest League’s South Bend White Sox.

Most important, however, is his track record of sending players to the show.

Since he joined the Thunder in 2007, Franklin has sent 39 players to the major leagues, including names like Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Mike Dunn, Ian Kennedy and Andrew Brackman, his most recent graduate.

Still, after a decade and a half plying his trade, there’s still something he dearly desires: A chance to join his former charges at the next level.

“It’s basically what I got in this for,” Franklin said before Game 2 of the Eastern League Championship Series, “like all the players, the broadcasters, the newspaper guys, you want to go to the highest point of your profession, and I want to do the same. That’s why I continue to do this.”

The major problem for Franklin is simple: Outside of the cities in which he’s managed, nobody really knows his name.

He never made the major leagues as a player, and only coached in the show for a brief period while the position’s normal holder was ill. Because of this, his name never really comes up when an opportunity arises.

And he’s perfectly aware of this situation.

“Outside of the Yankees, I think I’m under the radar,” he said, “and I’ve been under the radar for a long, long time.”

Using that example, when a vacancy opens up after the season, even with all good work Franklin’s done in his career, there is virtually no chance that he would get an interview.

“They’d call (Lou) Piniella, (Bobby) Valentine and the (Buck) Showalters, and my name would probably never get mentioned,” Franklin opined.

It’s this recycling of managers, no matter their level of success, that frustrates the Thunder’s skipper more than a little bit.

He knows that if you’re not a big name already, there’s a good chance that you never will be, especially given the highly cyclical nature of power that exists today within professional sports.

“People have to know you,” he said. “They have to know you, so unknowns don’t get as much play as people who are lesser known.”

As was mentioned earlier, Franklin has plenty of laurels on which to rest. That said, were he to pitch himself to a major league club, he’d prefer to do it with glowing testimonials from his former players.

One example is pitcher Ivan Nova, who made his major league debut this year. He’s also made a strong case for a spot on the postseason roster, as well as a shot at the fifth starter’s job once spring training rolls around.

Nova made a dozen starts with Trenton in 2009, and points to a particularly bad one in Bowie when Franklin taught him that bad outings will happen, and the best thing you can is to use what you learned that day when your next turn comes around.

“When I went into the dugout (after being removed), he said the same thing: ‘Keep looking forward. That happens in the game. I know sometimes you’ll feel bad, but you’ve got to take that away, work hard and keeping moving forward.’”

Former Thunder players Kevin Russo and Eduardo Nunez were also in the Bronx that day, and the pair also had kind words for their former skipper.

Nunez, who put himself on the map with a boffo 2009 as the Thunder’s shortstop, said that Franklin provided a guiding hand throughout his first foray into the upper levels.

“He told me all the time that the most important thing is consistency every day, working very, very hard,” Nunez said. “He’s a great manager, a great friend, too. He helped me out with everything.”

What Russo, who collected his first big league hit in late May, remembers is a players’ manager.
“He was very laid back, just let his players play. He obviously keeps winning there, so he must doing something right.”

Of course, he’s not beloved by everyone. When former Thunder catcher Kyle Anson retired before the season, he said that Franklin’s return to the team was one of his primary reasons behind the move.

“I didn’t enjoy playing for Tony Franklin whatsoever,” Anson explained. “When I found out he was returning, I took it as a sign from God.”

Anson was an exception, however, and stood in sharp contrast to one of Franklin’s most successful former players.

Phillies lefty Jamie Moyer, who was part of Franklin’s Geneva squad in the New York-Penn League in 1984, remembers Franklin as fiery, especially with younger players.

But that fire always came with a purpose, Moyer says, and it’s helped him get where he is today.

“When he needed to put his foot down, when he needed to get a point across, he got it across. Whether people liked it or not, it didn’t really matter. The way I took it all is that he was trying to bring the best out of you, as an individual and as a team.”

Moyer continued his praise, saying that perhaps Franklin’s lessons took time to sink in, especially for a 21-year-old just getting his feet wet in the pros.

“For me he was very good, as a young player, because he pushed you, he drove you, but all in all he’s just trying to teach you the game,” Moyer explained. “I probably didn’t realize that in the very beginning, but I think the more time I spent with him, I started to understand.”

Franklin is open to returning to the Thunder’s helm for a fifth season, but if the words from Moyer, Nova, Nunez and Russo get around, he might not have to.

— Josh Norris is The Trentonian’s Thunder beat writer. Reach him at 609-989-7800 ext. 296. Reach him by e-mail at, or on Twitter at @jnorris427.

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