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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baseball America's Top Ten -- and what it means for the Thunder

By now, you know that Baseball America's Top 10 Yankees prospects came out yesterday -- at least in e-magazine form, for subscribers. If you happened to miss it, the list went like this: 

1. Jesus Montero
2. Manny Banuelos 
3. Dellin Betances
4. Gary Sanchez 
5. Mason Williams
6. Dante Bichette Jr. 
7. Ravel Santana
8. Austin Romine
9. J.R. Murphy
10. Slade Heathcott

So, what do those 10 men have in common, you ask? Two things: 

1. They all have first names between four and seven letters long. 

2. None of them figure to be on the Thunder to open next season. 

Montero will probably be with the big club. Banuelos, Betances and Romine will probably be at Triple-A. Murphy and Heathcott should start with the Tampa Yankees. Bichette, Williams and perhaps Sanchez should open at Charleston. Santana, because of his horrifying injury, will most likely go to a short-season league. 

That should leave the Thunder's opening day roster without a Top 10 prospect, as ranked by Baseball America, for the first time since 2005, when the team switched from a Red Sox to a Yankees affiliation. 

They began last year with three -- Betances, Banuelos and Romine -- and ended, predictably, with none. 

So while the team, on paper, will lack the sexiness, of, say, the Charleston club, a void of prospects doesn't necessarily correlate to a fewer wins. Want proof? Just look at last year's Eastern League.

Here's how each team's Opening Day roster broke down, in terms of Top 10 prospects, and how each team's record looked on July 14, after the Eastern League All-Star break:

Akron (2) - Joe Gardner (9), Nick Hagadone (10) ... 47-44
Altoona (4) - Tony Sanchez (2), Starling Marte (4), Bryan Morris (6), Jeff Locke (8) ... 37-52
Binghamton (1) - Brad Holt (10) ... 35-55
Bowie (2) - Xavier Avery (3), Wynn Pelzer (6) ... 47-41
Erie (4) - Jacob Turner (1), Francisco Martinez (4), Casey Crosby (6), Chance Ruffin (7) ... 43-47
Harrisburg (2) - Derek Norris (2), Brad Peacock (10) ... 53-36
New Britain (1) - Liam Hendriks (6) ... 45-43
New Hampshire (2) - Anthony Gose (3), Travis d'Arnaud (4) ... 51-37
Portland (1) - Stolmy Pimentel (9) ... 35-54
Reading (0) ... 47-43
Richmond (2) - Charlie Culberson (8), Eric Surkamp (9) ... 47-41
Trenton (3) - Dellin Betances (2), Manny Banuelos (3), Austin Romine (5) ... 48-42

Do you see any correlation between quantity of Top 10 prospects and team success? I sure don't. Both teams with four Top-10ers to their credit finished the first half with losing records, while Reading, the lone team with no big-name prospects, finished better than .500 and, at the time, sat just one game out of the EL North's Wild Card.

From a marketing standpoint, it would probably be really nice to have a few big names around to help sell tickets. A few years ago, the Thunder went so far as to market the trio of Colin Curtis, Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata on their media guide as the "Outfield of Dreams." They turned Banuelos and Betances into a dual bobblehead last season, just as they did with Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy a few years earlier. 

From a won-loss standpoint, though, a lack of big names might not mean a thing in the long run. 


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