Blogs > Minor Matters

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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rain, rain, go away

As you may have heard by now, it's raining in Tampa. If you need proof, however, he's a video and few photos for you to enjoy.

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Corban Joseph is ready for take two with the Thunder

TAMPA, Fla. – Even before he was promoted to Trenton last July, there were a lot of things we already knew about Corban Joseph.

We knew he came from a baseball family, with his brother Caleb working his way through the Baltimore system. We knew Baseball America had ranked his defense at second base the best in the Florida State League. And we knew that his smooth swing from the right side ranked as one of the system’s purest.

So when he struggled mightily over his season-ending two-month stint with the Thunder, we were left to wonder – was there something we didn’t know?

As it turned out, there was.

From the first day he arrived with the Thunder, Joseph was damaged goods. He’d hurt his right wrist on checked swing while still with Tampa, and had decided play through the pain rather than telling anybody.

“I heard a click (in the wrist). It was really bothering me, but I just played through it,” he explained after a simulated game on Tuesday at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “By the time I got Trenton, it was on and off. It would get better and then it would get worse.”

He collected a double and a triple in his first Double-A game – the opener of a doubleheader against Reading -- but things quickly went south, and he became more of a liability in the lineup than the much-needed offensive boost the team had expected.

He finished the season with a .216/.305/.647 line, with six doubles, no home runs and just 13 RBIs. Then, just before the postseason began, Joseph finally gave in to the pain he had felt for more than three months.

When the rehab work he did in Trenton wasn’t producing results, Joseph and the team decided it was time for an MRI. The test found that he had torn triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFC), and that he needed surgery to fully heal.

“Right at one certain point in my swing I’d get this annoying feeling in my wrist,” he explained. “It just got to the point where I couldn’t play anymore with it.”

After the team’s last game of the regular season, Joseph had the surgery then went home to Tennessee to begin his offseason rehab. He missed the Thunder’s playoff run, and his scheduled trip to the Arizona Fall League was scrapped.

Now, with his wrist taped for added compression, Joseph’s swing looks better and the ball is jumping off his bat in spring contests. With a clean slate, he’s ready to prove that all the hype from scouts and experts has been warranted.

Although he received a ring for his role in High-A Tampa’s FSL crown, Joseph is ready for his second shot at playoff baseball, something he sorely missed last season.

“I just want to get a ring – another ring,” he said. “I won one last year with Tampa, and I want to do the same (with Trenton.)”

Because of extremely heavy rain, not to mention tornadoes, in and around the Tampa area, yesterday’s minor league exhibition games were cancelled. The Double-A work group was scheduled to play the Pirates’ squad at home.

If the fields are playable tomorrow, the team is scheduled to square off with Toronto’s minor leaguers in Tampa.

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Today's game is cancelled (again)

As you may have been able to gather from my last post, it rained a lot last night. As such, the scheduled games with the Pirates prospects have been cancelled already. The prospects are scheduled to take batting practice at the in cages at George M. Steinbrenner field, just a short drive (or walk) down Dale Mabry.

The guard at the front gate told me that the plan if the weather holds is to play a simulated game at about 11:00. The skies right now are dark and foreboding, and there have been reports of a funnel cloud on the ground in the area.

I'll try to talk to some people should the sim game take place. That's all for now, enjoy Opening Day around the country.

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Happy New Year!

Good morning.

Today is Opening Day for the Yankees, who will play the Tigers should the weather hold in New York. The scheduled matchup is CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander, which should make for a low-scoring affair.

Speaking of weather, what I've got here in Tampa is absolutely dreadful. We got three inches of rain on Tuesday evening, and I'd dare say we matched that again last night. And it's still drizzling.

The forecast for the rest of the day is no better. The phrases "penny-sized hail" and "tornado warning" both came up this morning on the Weather Channel. Good times.

I'll head down to the complex here in a little while, but I strongly doubt I'll see anyone there at all. The Thunder are scheduled to face the Double-A Pirates at home today, but that's almost certainly cancelled already. The most I'm expecting is a little stretching and light cagework.

Until then, sit back, relax and enjoy the baseball today.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Videos of Pat Venditte, Melky Mesa, Jose Pirela and Corban Joseph

Dellin Betances will answer your questions live

Before I spoke to Dellin Betances this morning on the record, I asked him a simple question: Would he be willing to do something interesting for his many fans who can't come out to see the Thunder play in person?

He agreed, so here is what's going to happen.

On April 5, when the Thunder hold their annual media day, Betances is going to take some time to answer your questions.

The Process: You have until 11 a.m. on April 5 to submit your questions. I will review them and pick the best ones to ask Betances on Media Day. The interview will be broadcast live via my LiveStream channel, so you can tune in and see if your question gets asked.

You can submit your question in one of two ways:

1 - Via Twitter. Think of a question, then send it with "#ForDellin" at the end. That way I can keep them all in one place in my TweetDeck.

2 - The comments section of this blog post. Write your question as a comment, hit send, and I'll review them. I won't publish those comments, but rest assured I will read them.

The Rules: Obviously, please keep your questions appropriate -- interesting, but appropriate. I will ask only one question per person, so keep that in mind. You can send as many as you like, but I will pick only one.

If this goes as planned, I hope to do this with other players throughout the year. So start thinking up your questions now.

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Garrison not surprised by Yankees choice of Ayala

Just spoke with Hun alumnus Steve Garrison, who was sent down to minor league camp this afternoon after the Yankees chose veteran Luis Ayala for the last spot in the team's bullpen.

Garrison said that, although he'd obviously hoped he'd make the team, he'd been "planning for the worst," and that there was no feeling of ill will toward Ayala at all.

Far from it, in fact.

Garrison said that the idea of the two in some sort of competition had been overblown, and that the two had been rooting for one another since early in spring training.

There will be more to come on this story later at

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Ayala, not Garrison, appears to be the Yankees' choice

New York Daily News beat writer Mark Feinsand tweeted this morning that lefty reliever Luis Ayala was sitting right next to him on his plane home into Newark airport. It would seem to follow, then, that Ayala has won the job as the last man in the Yankees' bullpen.

This information, of course, is contrary to how manager Joe Girardi said it would play out yesterday, when he said neither reliever would make the trip north and that, if necessary, one would fly to New York late tonight.

Apparently, no suitable replacement became available on the waiver wire between yesterday and this morning, and the go-ahead was given to summon Ayala.

With that in mind, I expect to see Garrison this morning in minor league camp, and later today in Bradenton, where the Yankees' upper-level minor leaguers will play their counterparts from the Pittsburgh organization. I'll get some reaction from Garrison as soon as I have it.

Keep up to date with all my coverage this week HERE, and don't forget to stop by my live Web chat tonight at 8 p.m. A link to the chat will be available here and at The Trentonian's website.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wrapping the day; chat tomorrow

Today was one of the more interesting ones I've seen in two years of spring training. When I opened the morning, I thought the minor league teams were going to be hosting the Phillies' minor leaguers. Because of the massive rain the night before, however, those games were called off in favor of a pair of simulated games.

Now, when I heard that, I mistakenly assumed it would be another set of intrasquad games, like I'd seen the previous two afternoons. Not so. This was a full on simulated game, with very few players even around to take part.

Here are a few of the minor leaguers I noticed:

- Hector Noesi
- Dan Brewer
- Brandon Laird
- Jorge Vazquez
- Corban Joseph
- Shaeffer Hall
- Jesus Montero
- Myron Leslie
- Yeicok Calderon

There were more, but I was busy watching the seemingly endless parade of major leaguers who showed up to get work in. Among them, as detailed earlier, were Curtis Granderson, Mariano Rivera, Chris Dickerson, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Phil Hughes and Gustavo Molina.

Granderson and Dickerson took at-bats on both fields depending on whether they wanted to face a right-hander (Hughes) or a left-hander (Hall). It was the first time I'd seen one of these, and it was quite a spectacle.

CHAT TOMORROW: For the first time this trip, I'll be hosting a live chat tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. That should give me plenty of time to get back from Bradenton and get my stories turned in and video uploaded. We can talk about anything related to minor league spring training, the construction of the Thunder roster, or anything else your heart desires.

You can reach me at, or on twitter at @jnorris427. Also be sure to check out this link for all of my content this week.

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Videos of Steve Garrison, Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Curtis Granderson and Aaron Boone

Cavalcade of stars converge at minor league complex

TAMPA, Fla. – On Sunday, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada took a few hacks at the minor league complex. The next day, second baseman Robinson Cano and Jesus Montero (who had yet to be cut from the big club) did the same.

For more exclusive Thunder content, including blog posts, stories, videos and pictures, go HERE

This afternoon, however, the star power ante was upped much, much higher. For starters, outfielders Curtis Granderson and Chris Dickerson, as well as closer nonpareil Mariano Rivera each saw action in a pair of simulated games against various Yankees farmhands.

Those three had been announced yesterday, though, and were expected. The cavalcade of major league arms that followed, however, was a bit of a surprise.

Fans who’d been shut out of the major league game across the street were treated to pitchers Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Boone Logan, all getting some last-minute work before the team departed from New York.

Yankees player development guru Mark Newman, among scattered other members of the team’s brass, watched anxiously as Granderson and Dickerson took their licks against Hughes, as well as minor leaguers Hector Noesi and Shaeffer Hall.

At one point, Newman asked Granderson how he felt after a couple of swings and misses early in the proceedings. Granderson said he felt fine. Regardless, the outfielder is scheduled to play with the minor leaguers when they travel to Bradenton to face the Pirates’ youngsters.

It was announced yesterday that left-hander Manny Banuelos, the likely frontman in the Thunder’s rotation, was the winner of the team’s James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the top rookie in spring training.

Previous winners of the award include Brett Gardner, Nick Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, Hideki Matsui and Don Mattingly.

This spring, Banuelos, the youngest player in Yankees camp, went 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA in six games, which included two starts.

He received the award in a ceremony held before yesterday’s major league game with the Tigers.

Because of the nearly three inches of rain that dumped on the Tampa area yesterday, the scheduled minor league games with the Phillies farmhands were cancelled. Players not involved in the simulated game had a light workout and then were sent home for the rest of the day.

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Steve Garrison waits as the Yankees debate on a lefty

TAMPA, Fla. – Hours before the Yankees played their final spring training tune-up, relievers Steve Garrison and Luis Ayala stood at Garrison’s locker and exchanged pleasantries. Ayala , with four tropical-looking bracelets on his left wrist, showed off his glove to Garrison.

For more exclusive Thunder content, including blog posts, pictures, video and stories, go HERE

Garrison tried on the glove, then asked if Ayala wanted to go play catch in the outfield to warm up their arms. Ayala politely declined, smiled, then made his way back across the room to his locker, which is just to the left of the clubhouse door as one enters.

It may not have looked it from the outside, but these two pitchers were competing for a shot at the final spot in the Yankees’ bullpen, a second left-hander to complement Boone Logan. The chance was made available because Pedro Feliciano, a southpaw whom New York acquired in the offseason, has a triceps injury that will put him on the disabled list for Thursday’s Opening Day.

For Garrison, a native of Ewing and a graduate of the Hun School in Princeton, pitching in the major leagues in the northeast would be extra special.

"To make any big league team would be an honor,” Garrison said yesterday. “It's kind of what my main goal is and everything like that. Just to be close to home is a blessing. I've always wanted to play up in the northeast where my home is and my family and friends are. It would be a really great opportunity."

Despite not being on the list of scheduled pitchers for yesterday’s game, Garrison got in an inning against the Tigers, relieving, ironically enough, Ayala. Garrison worked around two hits – both to left-handers – to keep Detroit off the board in what wound up a 2-1 Yankees win.

On the surface, the fifth inning appeared to be one final audition for manager Joe Girardi, but he’d already made it clear before the game that neither pitcher would be going north with the team initially.

“None of them are going. Ayala and Garrison are staying here. If one of them joins us, he’ll join us Wednesday evening,” the manager explained.

In the meantime, the Yankees most likely will monitor the waiver wires as other teams make their cuts before setting their final rosters tomorrow evening. If a better option pops up, they’ll pursue him and leave Garrison and Ayala to build innings in the minor leagues.

Even without a spot certain, however, one could clearly see how delighted Garrison was with spending the entire spring in big league camp. It was a far cry from last season at this time, when he was a member of the Padres organization and had his leg in a brace while recovering from knee surgery.

“It’s definitely an honor. I love being in this organization. Everybody’s been so great to me. I’m blessed to be here, and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been really nice to be healthy and to be a part of all this,” he said.

Assuming the weather holds up Wednesday, Garrison and Ayala will take the long bus ride over to Bradenton to play the Pirates in a minor league game. Although neither is likely to pitch, it should be an eventful, anxious day for both hurlers.

If the Yankees don’t find anything to their liking on the scrap heap, one will hop a plane to New York to join the team before its season-opening matinee against Detroit on Thursday. For Ayala, who’s pitched in 377 games in the show, getting the call would be a welcome respite from another stint in Triple-A.

As for Garrison, who has appeared in just five games above Double-A in his career, a call late tomorrow would be a far greater thrill.

“It’s what you always wanted to do,” he said. “It’s what you’re there for. Again, I’m honored that they think highly enough of me to put me at that level.”

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Garrison is not coming north, but neither is Ayala

Joe Girardi just met with the media, and here's the deal on Steve Garrison vs. Luis Ayala for the last spot in the bullpen. No decision has been made, and neither man will come to New York with big club tonight.

Both Garrison and Ayala are staying in Tampa until one of them is needed. In the meanwhile, the Yankees will monitor the waiver wire for a left-hander as teams make cuts to trim their rosters before opening day. I spoke with Garrison before Girardi met with the media, and here's what he had to say about possibly pitching with the Yankees in the future.

"To make any big league would be an honor. It's kind of what my main goal is and everything like that. Just to be close to home is a blessing. I've always wanted to play up in the northeast where my home is and my family and friends are. It would be a really great opportunity."'

That's what I've got for now, but I'll have more later. I've got to jet back across the street to see some guy named Rivera pitch against Phillies minor leaguers, and some guy named Granderson take at-bats against them.

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Good Morning from a very, very wet Tampa

Good morning.

According to the local weather station, Tampa exceeded its predicted 1.8 inches of rainfall and instead got 3 inches of rain yesterday. In 15 years of living in Oregon, I don't think I've ever seen anything like what happened outside my window over the last 12 hours or so.

Anyway, on to the baseball stuff and what I (hopefully) have on tap for today. The Yankees play their last spring training game this afternoon, and there's still one big decision to be made. Steve Garrison, a product of the Hun School and a Ewing native, is battling Luis Ayala to be the second left-hander in Joe Girardi's bullpen.

Given that the team leaves for the Bronx this evening, that decision should be made today. I'm going to be over there to try to get Garrison's reaction one way or the other.

Across the street, the Double-A and Triple-A work groups are scheduled to play the Phllies' minor leaguers this afternoon. Mariano Rivera and Curtis Granderson are slated to get in some work in those games, so that should be pretty fun to watch.

Also, today should mark the first appearance from Austin Romine in minor league camp, given that he was officially named the Thunder's catcher yesterday. Jesus Montero should also be at the Himes Avenue complex, only this time as an official minor leaguer. He was there yesterday, but he hadn't been cut at that point.

I expect to see Manny Banuelos tomorrow.

If you've missed any of my coverage from the last two days, you can catch up over at The Trentonian's Thunder page, which will be updated throughout the season as well. You can as also find me on Twitter under the name @jnorris427.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

A photo gallery to close out the evening

Before I hit the hay here in Tampa, here are a few stray photos from the day that was. Included in the mix: Robinson Cano laughing it up with past and future Thunder reliever Wilkins Arias, Mitch Abeita's bat, Yadil Mujica ready in the rain, Jeremy Bleich testing out that repaired labrum and Jake Anderson fielding grounders in the rain, with a few seagulls in the outfield.

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Videos of Yadil Mujica, Eduardo Sosa, Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez, Brett Marshall and Robinson Cano

Day two of The Trentonian's trip to Tampa for minor league spring training is in the books, and here's six videos that are the fruits of our labor on a disgustingly rainy Monday. From the top, there's footage of: Robinson Cano, Gary Sanchez, Jesus Montero, Eduardo Sosa, Yadil Mujica and Brett Marshall.

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While nothing's certain, Thunder rotation has a good look at the top

TAMPA, Fla. – With the time remaining in spring training dwindling from weeks into days, the shape of the Thunder’s opening day roster is beginning to gain clarity. Almost nothing is set in stone, but there are a few obvious pieces that will be at manager Tony Franklin’s disposal come April 7 in New Hampshire.

For more content on the Thunder, including pictures, videos and blog posts, go HERE

First and foremost is the pitching staff. It’s been clear for weeks that Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the system’s two brightest prospects, will front Trenton’s rotation at the outset.

“It’s always been the pitching with us.” Franklin said “Over the last four years, it’s always been pitching, and we hope to have another good staff. We saw remnants of it last year, with Banuelos and Betances and some of the other guys down there in the bullpen. Even with that, we’re not exactly sure who else is going to fit in there.”

Two of the more likely candidates to join Betances and Banuelos are Graham Stoneburner and Shaeffer Hall, two members of the 2009 draft class who spent last season with Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa.

Combined, Stoneburner and Hall were 21-9 last season with 240 strikeouts in 279 innings. The former’s individual total of 137 punchouts was good for third in the organization, trailing just Hector Noesi and David Phelps.

As for that final spot in the rotation, there are a number of names in play. The likely and most obvious choices are Cory Arbiso and Craig Heyer, with the latter being more suited for the role. A soft-tossing control specialist, Heyer made 12 starts out of his 26 appearances with Tampa. In all, he walked just six hitters in 92 innings.

Before late this month, those were the only two names that seemed to be in play. With Kevin Millwood’s addition to the Triple-A rotation, however, there’s a slight chance Adam Warren, a star in the 2010 Eastern League playoffs, might return to Trenton for the first month or so of the season.

Notably, Warren fanned a team-record 15 batters in an August game against Bowie, and he struck out 10 hitters in six innings in relief of Andy Pettitte during Game 2 of the EL Division Series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

What is absolutely certain, however, is that Austin Romine will be catching the Thunder staff, no matter what it looks like.

Gustavo Molina was officially named the Yankees’ backup catcher yesterday, setting off a domino effect that sent Jesus Montero to Triple-A Scranton and Romine back to Waterfront Park to begin 2011. The unquestioned team leader last season, Romine hit .268/.324/.402 with 31 doubles, 10 home runs and 69 RBis in 115 games.

On the other side of the coin, two players you definitely will not see with the Thunder, or any Yankees team, this season are infielder Justin Snyder and right-handed reliever Phil Bartleski. Both players were released yesterday as part of the traditional end-of-spring paring of the rosters.

With the Thunder last year, Snyder hit .245 with three home runs and 27 RBIs in 90 games. He also pitched an inning in relief during a blowout loss, and was very proud that one of his fastballs hit 90 miles per hour.

With free-agent signee Pedro Feliciano scheduled to start the season on the disabled list, the race to join Boone Logan as the Yankees’ second left-hander has been trimmed to two: Ewing native and Hun graduate Steve Garrison, and Luis Ayala, who spent last season in Triple-A for the Arizona Diamondbacks

This spring, Garrison, picked up on waivers from the Padres last season, has a 5.59 ERA over 9 2/3 innings. He’s struck out four men and walked two.

Because of heavy rain in the area, the scheduled minor league game between Trenton and Toronto’s Double-A work group was called off. Instead, the teams played intrasquad games for the second day in a row.

Also for the second day in a row, the Double-A vs. Triple-A game had a little extra star power. Montero, who hadn’t yet been sent to Scranton, and Robinson Cano each came over to get some extra at-bats. Cano joined the Triple-A team, while Montero hit for the Double-A squad.

Each man batted second every inning and was immediately and was immediately removed for a pinch runner if he got on base. Montero homered in his third at-bat, a massive bomb to left-center field on the first pitch he saw from former Thunder reliever Amauri Sanit.

As with Sunday and yesterday, it appears the minor league complex will get a little major league flavor tomorrow and Wednesday.

Manager Joe Girardi announced after yesterday’s rainout that Mariano Rivera will pitch in a minor league game tomorrow, weather permitting. He also noted that outfielder Curtis Granderson would probably play in minor league games tomorrow and Wednesday.

Romulo Sanchez, a reliever the Yankees got from the Pirates in exchange for Eric Hacker two seasons ago, was sold to a Japanese team yesterday. The departure of Sanchez, who was out of options and could not be sent to the minor leagues, clears space in what is becoming an increasingly cluttered-looking Triple-A bullpen.

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Austin Romine will be back in Trenton

Per the Yankees beat writers, what seemed obvious became final today. Gustavo Molina was kept by the big club, and Jesus Montero was sent to Triple-A Scranton. That means Austin Romine, who spent all of the 2010 season with Thunder, will begin the season with them as well.

With Trenton last year, Romine hit .268/.324/.402 with 31 doubles, 10 homers and 69 RBIs. It was his first season with the full starter's role behind the plate. He and Montero had previously split time in Tampa and Charleston.

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Today's game is cancelled

Just got off the phone with the Yankees, who say today's scheduled minor league game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin has been cancelled. They will, however, attempt to play an intrasquad game at the Himes Avenue complex a little later, probably around 1 p.m.

I did get to watch Lance Pendleton, Adam Warren, Brandon Braboy, Dellin Betances and D.J. Mitchell throw in the (covered) bullpen earlier. Here are some pictures of that happening. Sorry about the screen. They didn't want us getting any closer than about 100 feet from the pen.

The pictures are of Dellin Betances (throwing, no screen), Lance Pendleton (with screen) and Kyle Higashioka (in catcher's gear).

Good Morning on what should be a stormy Monday

Good morning, all.

I'm about to head out to the minor league complex to watch the various players stretch. I'll probably take a bunch of pictures of that, and will post a gallery later. I hope to grab some players for a few interviews as well.

On an unfortunate front, the weather here looks, as my grandfather used to put it, very ooky. Thunderstorms are in the forecast all day long, which could mean they simply call off all minor league activities and give the players a much-needed day's rest.

If the weather should hold, here's what I plan to do: After I take in the stretching, batting practice, PFP portion of the day, I'm going to head over to Dunedin, where the Yankees' upper-level minor leaguers will take on the Blue Jays' upper-level minor leaguers.

After that, if the weather is still cooperating, I'm going to drive back to Tampa (a short drive) and cover the major league team as they play against the Rays.

In the meanwhile, check out this story on Hun product Steve Garrison, who, instead of pitching for the Thunder, might very well get a shot with the big club thanks to left-hander Pedro Feliciano's late injury.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jorge Posada takes some hacks, Hank Steinbrenner makes a cameo and Romine goes deep

TAMPA, Fla. – The Thunder found themselves with a nice offensive boost yesterday, even if it was only in an intrasquad game against the Triple-A work group.

Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada didn’t make the trip to Fort Myers with the rest of his teammates. Instead, he found his way across the street to the minor league complex, where he took his hacks against some of his former Grapefruit League teammates.

He collected a single against Kei Igawa before the game was called off after six innings.

Lance Pendleton, at times the ace of last season’s Thunder staff, was returned to the Yankees yesterday. The Astros chose Pendleton with the 17th pick of the most recent Rule 5 draft. He has already been assigned to Triple-A Scranton, where he will most likely work out of the bullpen.

With Trenton last season, the right-hander went 10-4 with a 3.61 ERA and 133 strikeouts. He also allowed just 95 hits and 45 walks over 120 2/3 Double-A frames before being promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in early August.

With the Astros in the Grapefruit League, Pendleton was battling for a spot toward the back of Houston’s already shaky starting five. Ultimately, though, spotty control earned him a trip back the Yankees.

Pendleton walked eight men in 7 2/3 spring innings, including a bases-loaded free pass to Russell Martin on March 2 that gave the Yankees a walk-off win.

Austin Romine, who is looking more and more like the probable Thunder catcher on April 7 in New Hampshire, poked his first home run of the spring yesterday, a solo shot off of Minnesota’s Chuck James in an eventual 7-6 Twins win.

Austin Krum, another player likely to open the season with Trenton, collected three hits yesterday, including a double off of former Yankees hurler Carl Pavano. Krum also made two errors on one play in center field, a missed catch followed by a bad throw to the plate.

Thunder alumni Wilkins Arias, Josh Schmidt, Eric Wordekemper and Pat Venditte also saw action out of the bullpen in the loss.

During yesterday’s action at the complex, Yankees principal owner Hank Steinbrenner made a cameo. George’s son, clad in a suit, walked between the four fields and into the team offices. He did not speak to the media.

The White Sox yesterday waived pitcher Jeff Marquez, a member of the 2007 Eastern League champion Thunder and, along with Jhonny Nunez and Wilson Betemit and a part of the deal that sent outfielder Nick Swisher to the Yankees.

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Former Thunder outfielder Gonzalez finds a new niche

TAMPA, Fla. – For Edwar Gonzalez, the choice was simple. His next career move would come down to extending his playing days in a place where the game hasn’t quite flourished, or accepting a position with the Yankees in a location that would keep him much closer to his family.

With that in mind, Gonzalez, an outfielder with the Thunder for the last three seasons, turned down an offer from a team in the Italian League and chose to become the hitting coach for the Gulf Coast League Yankees. The team is in rookie ball, the lowest level of the minor leagues, with hitters who, while talented, require an extreme amount of polish before they’re ready to start their climb up the professional rungs.

“(The Italian league) only played twice a week,” Gonzalez explained, before noting a different, more personal factor for staying stateside. “It was way too far from my son, so I wasn’t going to be able to see my son at all for six or seven months. I don’t want that. I’d rather keep the good relationship I have with him and stay in touch with him as much as I can.”

The Yankees made their offer during the VWL season, but Gonzalez wanted to wait a little while longer – a month and a half longer, to be specific – to see if any team looking for an outfielder might come calling at the last moment. After all, Gonzalez had hit 20 home runs – including 14 in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League – just three seasons prior.

Italy was the only option to keeping his playing career alive, and he didn’t give that idea much more than a moment’s thought.

“To me, that’s too far from the big leagues,” Gonzalez said yesterday while going over the day’s stats after everybody else had vacated the four fields on the Yankees’ minor league complex. “I just wanted to start helping these guys (and start) taking in another career. I’m pretty happy I’m still in baseball with the Yankees.”

Gonzalez’s move certainly isn’t unprecedented. With the GCL, he will serve under Carlos Mendoza, a former infielder and teammate of Gonzalez’s with the Thunder during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Mendoza spent last season as a coach for the Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League.

Justin Pope, who pitched in parts of four seasons with the Thunder, is part of manager Tony Franklin’s staff this season. Danny Borrell, a member of the 2005 and 2006 Thunder squads, is the new pitching coach for the Staten Island Yankees, replacing Pat Daneker.

Last season, Borrell worked with the organization to help rehabbing pitchers, like top prospect Dellin Betances, achieve better results after their injuries.

As for Gonzalez’s day-to-day duties and the approach he’ll take to his new job, he says it’s going to be more focused on a young hitter’s approach and routine rather than the mechanics of his stroke.

“The main thing is working with young guys and trying to teach them how to work and establish an everyday routine so they know what they’re doing in their swing” he explained. “One of the main things I’m going to be doing this season is trying to teach them how to do that stuff.”

Now, with his career on a new path and his family close at hand – his son, 2-year-old Enrique, is coming from Oklahoma to spend the first two months of the season –Gonzalez is ready for his next chapter, even if it did come a little sooner than he’d expected.

“I like this job. I always knew I wanted to do it, and it came before I thought it was going to, but I’m happy. I’m happy that I’m here.”

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Videos of Chase Whitley, Melky Mesa, Cody Johnson and Jorge Posada

Greetings from Gate C17; What about Dan?

Good morning.

Today marks the first day of The Trentonian's coverage of Yankees spring training in Tampa. Unfortunately, the team moved today's scheduled intrasquad scrimmage up to 10 a.m. from the originally scheduled 1 p.m. start time. This means I'll be in the air and picking up my rental car while the game is being played. Hopefully things will go smoothly and I'll be able to catch the final couple of innings.

In the event that I do not, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. While I'm in the air, here's a question for you to ponder: If Chris Dickerson is OK, and Curtis Granderson does not start the season on the disabled list, what happens to Dan Brewer.

In theory, the Scranton outfield would be Dickerson, Justin Maxwell and Greg Golson, leaving Brewer shoved out of the mix. I can see three options here.

1. He starts the season in Scranton as a fourth outfielder, which doesn't seem to be a fate befitting of someone who put himself on the map last year with a stellar season at Trenton.

2. He begins the season in Scranton, but on the fake DL, stashed away until either Dickerson, Golson or Maxwell is needed at the big league level.

3. He gets pushed back to Trenton to start the year and get regular at-bats. This might not be favorable for Brewer, but if that's the only way to get him some playing time, I bet he'll take it over riding the pine.

That's a picture of Brewer I took at last year's spring training. Thank you, Google Images.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Introducing, the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy League competitors

I asked the six members of my minor league fantasy league to send me short bios and a team name, and they each responded. Personally, I find it pretty astounding that a half a dozen people who have never met each other, and who haven't met me, would volunteer to play together in fantasy league involving only Yankees minor leaguers. That said, here are the six competitors who will duke it out until June.

Derek Jeter and the Fist Pumps

My name is Fabian McNally, and I grew up in the Bronx, NY. Like any reasonable resident of the Bronx, I developed a passion for Yankee baseball. This passion would eventually turn to an obsession that could only be satisfied by devouring any and all information on the Yankee minor league system. While I blogged for a few years (Replacement Level Yankees Weblog) I have since gone into retirement.


My name is Antonio Russo, but you can call me Tony. I am 44 years old. I have lived in Jacksonville Florida since 1981. I moved from Brooklyn, N.Y. when I was 13. My favorite Yankee of all-time is Derek Jeter.

When In Romine

Rich is a college student from Central New Jersey. He has been a Yankee fan since he was 7 years old, and he has been following the Yankees' minor league system since the Johan Santana non-trade in December, 2007. His favorite players have always been Mariano Rivera and Mike Mussina, though Robinson Cano is doing his best to someday join them on that list. You can follow Rich on Twitter at @richardiurilli.

Noesi Me Now

I'm a sophomore at Columbia University and a lifelong Yankees fan from Hopewell, New Jersey. I've been going to Trenton Thunder games since Tony Clark patrolled the infield and I've always had an interest in minor league baseball and the progression of prospects, which explains me joining this league. I'm in the sports department at our student radio station, which gives me an excuse for watching sports way more than I should. My favorite Yankee always has been and will be Mariano Rivera, watching him dominate at the same level despite all of the factors working against him is a gift.

Jesus, Mo, and Joe ManBan

A 2008 graduate of Syracuse University, Rebecca works for a small (sort of) sports media company in Connecticut. She's been a Yankee fan since the age of 10 (some dude named Jeffrey Maier helped with a well-timed catch), and her prospect crushes include Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez, Manny Banuelos and Pat Venditte. She's never won a fantasy league, but hopes this year is THE year for team Jesus, Mo and Joe ManBan.

Brien Taylor's Left Hook

My name is Pat Malone. I am a lifeong Yankee fan and living at the Jersey shore. I spend a lot of my free time in the summer coaching my two sons' Little League teams and going to minor league games. (Thunder and Blueclaws).

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