Blogs > Minor Matters

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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thunder announce promotional schedule

(TRENTON, NJ) - Fans of the Trenton Thunder Minor League Baseball team will take home items such as Thunder themed collectible race cars, pillow cases and clothes hampers at games this season. 
The Thunder, the Double A Affiliate of the New York Yankees, released the bulk of its 2012 Promotional Schedule on Monday afternoon in advance of single game tickets going on sale for the first time on Wednesday, Feburary 1.   
The slate includes non-traditional promotional giveaways including Thunder-themed Pillow Caseson May 4 thanks to Capital Health (1st 1,000, 5-15).  Thunder Clothes Hampers will go to fans on May 24 thanks to Arm & Hammer (1st 1,000, 5-15) and young fans at the game on July 22 will take home a Lil Webkinz doll thanks to NJ Best (1st 1,000, 5-15).  Die-Cast Collectible Racing Cars featuring the Thunder logo will go to fans on August 21 thanks to the NJEA (1st 1,000, 5-15).
Sunday, June 3 is going to be an awesome day at the ballpark as Brobee and Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba will be the Thunder's special guests at the game.  Both characters will be available for photographs during the game.  
The Thunder will host eight Bobblehead Doll giveaways with each one featuring players who have worn the Thunder uniform in their careers.    The first will feature Yankees prospect Manny Banuelos thanks to Capital Health on May 11 (1st 2,000, 6+).  Later in May, DQ Grill & Chill will present a "Catchers Collectors Series" of "Mini" bobbleheads on consecutive days.   Fans will receive Francisco Cervelli on May 21, Jesus Montero on May 22 and Austin Romine on May 23 (each 1st 1,500, 6+).  On June 22, Derek Jeter's 2011 rehabilitation appearance will be commemorated with a bobblehead giveaway featuring the Yankees Captain in a Thunder uniform (1st 2,000, 6+) thanks to TD Bank. David Robertson, a 2011 American League All-Star, will be featured on July 6 thanks to Capital Health.  Pitcher Ivan Nova will make his Thunder bobblehead debut on July 27 thanks to Hyundai (1st 2,000, 6+).  Finally, Arm & Hammer will presentRobinson Cano bobbleheads on August 17 (1st 2,000, 6+).
The 2012 promotional slate is loaded with traditionally popular giveaway items as well.  On Opening Night, April 5 as well as April 6, there will be Magnetic Schedules for the first 2,000 fans.  Kids Opening Day on April 7 will feature Replica Jerseys thanks to TD Bank (1st 1,000, 5-15), June 1 will be a Thunder Cap giveaway courtesy of RAI (1st 1,500, 6+), June 8 will beBaseball Card Sets thanks to Verizon Wireless (1st 1,500, 6+), July 20 will be Seat Cushions(1st 1,500, 18+) thanks to A-1 Limousine, August 7 will be Sport Bottles (1st 1,000, 18+) thanks to Capital Health, and August 19 will feature Drawstring Backpacks (1st 1,000, 5-15) courtesy of TD Bank.    
On April 19, all fans in attendance will receive free  hot dogs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers as the popular FREE All-You-Can-Eat Night returns for a third season.  A second FREE All-You-Can-Eat Night will be held on Monday, August 27. 
Dog-friendly promotions will return to Waterfront Park on Sunday, April 22 with Bark at the Parkpresented by Dogs and Cats Rule.  This event allows fans to bring their canines with them to the stadium.  On Friday, July 5 dogs are invited once again as the Thunder will celebrate thebirthday of its Golden Retriever, Chase.
As previously announced, the Thunder will host 16 fireworks shows after games in 2012. 
Also added to the schedule are a slew of theme nights including Irish Heritage Night (August 11), Polish Heritage Night (June 28), Italian Heritage Night (August 30) and more.  Many community events will  also be returning to the ballpark including the Third Annual Good Deed Game (July 28) and Community Blood Council of NJ Blood Drives on June 2 and July 28.
Additional promotions will be announced at later dates.   

The 2012 Trenton Thunder season at home on Thursday, April 5 versus New Hampshire.  Group tickets, season tickets and ticket packages are on sale now.    Single game tickets for the 2011 Trenton Thunder season will go on sale on Wednesday, February 1 at 9:30 am online at, by phone at 609-394-3300 or in person at Waterfront Park.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top 10 Thunder players for 2012 - Chase Whitley

Bio: Whitley was the Yankees' 15th-round selection in 2010, out of Troy University. He's 22 years old, stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 220 pounds, and made it to Trenton in his first full season. Like future Thunder pitcher Preston Claiborne, he skipped Charleston entirely on the way to the system's upper levels.

2011: Whitley spent the first half of the year with Tampa, where he put up some fantastic numbers, including a 1.68 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of exactly 4-to-1. 

Despite the numbers, the scouts I've spoken with regarding Whitley are less than impressed. One who saw him in Tampa said he looked more like a thrower than a pitcher, noting the average fastball and still-developing change-up. Another, who saw him with Trenton, said that, to him, Whitley was "just a guy."

The numbers took a drop once he reached the Thunder, with whom Whitley put up an ERA of 3.38, more than twice what it was with Tampa. Even worse, especially considering his spacious confines at Waterfront Park, his home runs tripled. 

What's Next: Whitley will probably return to Trenton to begin 2012, where he will most likely be either the eighth- or ninth-inning guy (the team doesn't like to designate anyone as a "closer" per se).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top 10 Thunder players from 2011 - No. 6: Josh Schmidt

Why He's Here: For the third season in a row, Schmidt was one of the Thunder's most valuable relievers. In between trips to Scranton, the side-arming righty put up fabulous numbers, including a 1.83 ERA, a scant 18 hits in 34 1/3 innings, and a nearly 4-to-1 ratio of strikeouts to walks. Basically, when he came in, the opponent was done for.

He didn't allow a run from May 20 until June 5, a stretch of 8 1/3 innings that saw him fan 13 hitters. He failed to record a strikeout in just two of his 24 appearances with the Thunder. 

Most Memorable Moment: Because he was so dominant, his most memorable moment was probably his only real failure. I had spent the early part of the afternoon covering Bryce Harper in Lakewood, and I had enough time when I got back to catch the last few innings of the Thunder's game with Binghamton.

The Thunder were ahead by one when I got there, and Schmidt had just cleaned up Pat Venditte's mess in the eighth. In the ninth, however, Schmidt cracked against the meager B-Mets' offense. Brahiam Maldonado reached him for a single, which Allan Dykstra followed with a home run over the right-field wall. The blast gave the B-Mets the lead, and eventually the win.

It also cost Carlos Silva his only chance for a Double-A win all year. Somewhere, he still weeps about this. Also notable from this game, Ray Kruml's first homer of the year and Jose Pirela's first double.

Outlook for 2012: Currently, Schmidt is unemployed. Given his status in the organization and Triple-A's predicament for this season, I'd be shocked if he re-signed with the Yankees. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

10 Minutes with Kevin Long

Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long was at the Princeton Charter School this afternoon for part of his series of clinics with kids throughout the northeast. The clinic lasted four hours (though I had to leave early) and imparted swing mechanics to about 80 kids through easy-to-understand fundamentals and drills. 

Before the event began, I sat down to discuss the event, as well as a bit of Yankees-related stuff. Here's what he had to say. 

Josh Norris: With whom have you worked this offseason?

Kevin Long: I just met with Andruw Jones and Alex Rodriguez. I have seen Brandon Laird, Jesus Montero -- who we just traded -- Francisco Cervelli, a kid named Austin Romine. Swisher and I have talked quite a bit. Russell Martin and I are going to do some work in Arizona. Granderson and Cano I've talked to ... I've seen pretty much everybody. The good part about getting ready to start my sixth season is I don't have to spend as much offseason time with these guys, so that's kind of cool. 

JN: You mentioned a couple of guys who I'd like to talk about a little bit more. Obviously you just traded Montero, but there's still a lot of interest out there. How does he generate so much success from such an unorthodox-looking stance and swing?

KL: When I break down the absolutes of the swing, the absolutes are all there. As awkward as it may look, it's very functional. And what he does really, really good is he lets the ball travel and can hit the ball the other way a long, long way. A lot of that is his physique and his physical ability, but he's got the ability to let it travel and then to explode and (have) the ball just go to right field. It's funny, because when he pulls the ball he tends to get topspin, so it's almost (like) his swing is geared to go to right field and it really helps him. 

JN: If going to right field were something he were deficient in, how would you teach it to him?

KL: First of all, you work within their strengths. His strength is what? Going the other way. So you don't get too far away from that at any time. His deficiencies -- places that pitchers can exploit -- would be inside, so we started to work on that last year, and then had talked about part of his routine this year being to work on that. We were gaining on that, but at this point he's been traded, and I wish him the very best. 

JN: Going to another catcher, Romine. I've seen his swing for a couple of years, and what I've noticed is the really big leg kick. If you were to build a swing from scratch, is a leg kick something you would incorporate?

KL: His leg kick is now officially gone. That's something he worked on when he got called up in September, and we worked diligently to get that out of there. He feels really, really good about it being gone. He used it a little bit when he came up to the big leagues, and it's just to hard to manage a leg kick. His was, I hate to say out of control, but it was really, really high and really violent, and that's hard to play at the big league level.

JN: When you see Alex Rodriguez get out of whack, a lot of people will attribute that to the leg kick getting too exaggerated. Is that the same thing with Romine?

KL: Yeah. Any time you do something with your front foot, whether it be stride, whether it be just a heel trigger or just a leg kick, it's got to be controlled, and when A-Rod gets out of whack, it's because his leg kick is too high and too violent. 

JN: What do players say when you're trying to remove it? Can they give you a reason as to why they do it in the first place?

KL: It's to break inertia. It's to give them a little rhythm with their swing. Some people need more than others. A-Rod originally got his leg kick so that he could stay back. It kind of kept him back where, if he did it any other way, he would tend to go forward. It helps him keep his weight where it needs to be and stay centered, but again, he's very cognitive of the thought process of small leg kick, under control, so that he can be more efficient. 

JN: How long is it going to take a kid who's had something like that in his swing for a while to get it out of there, and how long is it going to take him to feel comfortable doing it another way?

KL: It's not necessarily that you have to take it out, it's that you have to get it under control. Instead of being maybe where the leg kick goes up to their elbow on their front side, we might reduce that to half that distance. If we can go half that distance and then go up and down, it'll take them a little time to get the feel for it. First of all they've got to understand why they're doing it, and if it doesn't make sense then they shouldn't do it. And if it does make sense, (you have to give) them the understanding that it's going to help them, and then you've got to come up with drills that can help them get that feel. 

JN: How do you teach plate discipline, which seems to be something that involves a lot more mental work than it does physical work?

KL: It's a process. Robinson Cano when I first had him walked 17 times in seven-hundred-and-something at-bats. He's walking 50 times a year now. It's still an everyday process. I'll take him in the office and 'Look at your last 17 swings, 14 of them have been out of the zone. Let's get back in the strike zone.' And you're a little bit firm with him, a little bit tough, but he's already seen the rewards of swinging at strikes. His home runs went up, his RBIs go up and his average goes up, so the biggest thing is to keep on pointing out that they're swinging at pitches that are out of the zone. 

JN: I brought up plate discipline to bring up Jorge Vazquez, who's gotten a lot of ink since the Montero trade as a possible in-house candidate as the designated hitter. How do you teach him to lay off the bad stuff, and what kind of big-league impact do you think he could have this year?

KL: I don't know. I couldn't tell you. I know that he had a very good year in Scranton, a lot of home runs, but he hit .250. Two-fifty in Triple-A is probably equivalent to .200 in the big leagues, so does that warrant him getting called up? I'm not so sure. Is he a big swing-and-miss guy? Is his strike-zone discipline not where it needs to be? Those are things that our minor league guys are going to have to evaluate and stay on top of. 

When I get Jorge one of the first things that we're going to talk about is, 'Listen, we've got to get better about staying in the strike zone.' He's getting as much of that in the minor leagues as I was going to give him in the big leagues, and we'll kind of see how this plays out, but I'm excited to have him in our system and I hope he continues to get better and we'll see what happens. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Montero for Pineda -- my thoughts

The Yankees got better Friday night -- in both the short and long terms -- and it may have cost them dearly to do so. They dealt Jesus Montero, who showed the world in September and October exactly what a young slugger looks like, for Michael Pineda, Seattle's towering flamethrower. 

Physically, Pineda resembles Dellin Betances, one of the Yankees' prized young hurlers. He also throws a tick harder than Betances, but controls his stuff much, much better. He also features a slider as his out pitch, whereas Betances uses a big hook to get his whiffs. 

I love this deal -- for both sides. 

For the Yankees it adds a young, cost-controlled starter who looked great last year and has potential to get better as he matures and gains consistency. Pineda turns 23 on Wednesday, had one of the hardest average fastballs in the league last year, and struck out the most hitters of any rookie in the big leagues. He wasn't Felix, but he was a commodity, period. 

So it's not surprising that it took a great deal to pry him from the Mariners, and that great deal came in the form of Montero, whom a scout I spoke with earlier this month compared to Miguel Cabrera, and Hector Noesi, one of the Yankees cadre of potential back-end starters. 

If you're a Yankees fan, losing Montero hurts. A lot. He didn't just show power in his short stint in the Bronx, he showed power to all fields. For his first trick, he pushed a pair of Jim Johnson fastballs well into the right-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. As an encore, he pulled a Jered Weaver heater into the left-field stands in Los Angeles. And to top it all off he added another opposite-field bomb off of Junichi Tazawa to help push the Red Sox farther back in their race for the playoffs. 

Also, he didn't exactly look overmatched in the Yankees' brief playoff appearance, either, for what that's worth. 

I have no doubt that Montero's going to be a top-of-the-stack hitter, but the Yankees have offense to spare, and good hitters come up each year on the free agent market. Look at next year, particularly toward the AL West, where Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton are free agents. Heck, Carlos Pena is out there now, and could provide a good deal of pop in place of Montero. 

Finding a good, young, cheap arm, however, is decidedly more difficult, and that's exactly what the Yankees did tonight. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Future Thunder Q & A - Mark Montgomery

Earlier today I spoke with Mark Montgomery, the Yankees 11th-round choice from last year and one of the system's fastest risers. He fanned an incredible 51 hitters in 28 1/3 innings, including five in his first inning as a Charleston RiverDog. You can read all about that outing here

The Yankees plucked him from Longwood University, where pitching came as sort of a happy accident. Here's what Montgomery, @SnapDragonMonty on Twitter, who could wind up in Trenton by midseason, had to say to me. 

Josh Norris: For those of us who haven't seen you, self included, tell me a little bit about what you throw and what kind of pitcher you are. 

Mark Montgomery: I got drafted as a closer. I was a reliever this season in Staten Island then got called up and wound up relieving for Charleston. Right now I just throw a fastball and a slider. My change-up right now is a work in progress, I guess we'll see when that develops and (gets) put into the repertoire, but right now and this past season it's been fastball-slider. 

JN: How often did you get to throw the change-up, if at all, this season?

MM: When I first got down there, they immediately thought I was going to have to add it in, but as the season went along and I did pretty well, I pretty much just played catch with it a lot, just getting a feel for it. I actually threw it in bullpens and bullpens before games, but never threw it in an actual game. 

JN: Had you thrown it before you converted to the bullpen, because I know you were a starter early on in college before moving to the bullpen and eventually the closer's role?

MM: I had a change-up when I was a starter my freshman year at school (Longwood University). Once I was pushed to the back of the bullpen becoming a closer I did away with that, but when I first started I had a change-up. 

JN: Are they teaching you a different change-up, or are you just re-learning the same one from college?

MM: The one I had. They had me show them the one I threw (a circle change-up) and I got a hang of it really quickly, so we're going to stick with that one. 

JN: Who taught you how to throw the slider, because it's gotten pretty rave reviews both inside and out of the system?

MM: I can't really think of anyone who taught me. Up until probably my senior year I'd thrown a 12-to-6 (curveball) and went to a showcase and I was sitting down talking to some people. They pretty much just told me 'You need to tighten up that breaking ball,' and the harder it is, obviously, the more effective it's going to be. I just switched up the grip a little bit and found the grip I'm comfortable with, and it's been effective.  

JN: What did you do when trying to refine it and how to control its break and depth?

MM: I played catch with it and just kind of toyed around until I found a grip that felt was the most effective to throw it and just stuck with it. 

JN: What's the difference in learning how to control the break on the slider and learning to control the break on the 12-to-6 curve?

MM: I think it's just two different types of pitches. The slider's pretty much become my out pitch, so I want to make it as sharp and as hard as I can. Obviously earlier in the count I want to throw it for strikes, so I'll take a little bit off it. 

JN: So, when you were in college, you said they pushed you to the back of the bullpen. Why was that decision made?

MM: When I originally went to school, it was to be an infielder. My first couple of games I actually played infield, and then I just had a random spot start against Richmond and did pretty well. I think I ended up starting three or four more games and started getting into relief so I could throw more often. 

My freshman and sophomore years was when my arm strength picked up and I started to gain some velocity  and the strikeouts started coming more and more. That's when they decided that being in the back of the bullpen and being the closer was probably the best option. 

JN: So when you got to college, then, you didn't expect to be a pitcher? That was just something that happened?

MM: I threw a good amount my junior and senior year in high school, but most schools -- I guess it was half and half -- some schools wanted me to pitch and some schools wanted me to play in the field. Longwood actually wanted me to play infield -- I played a little bit of outfield my freshman year -- so I really throw much in the fall of my freshman year. 

(My debut) was a spot, needed-a-start kind of thing and I threw well that day, and then after that it was pretty much just pitching from there on. 

JN: At what point during that process did you think, hey, this could be a permanent thing?

MM: I swung the bat a couple of more times after that first start and then I started seeing some success (on the mound) and I played in the summer league, I pretty much knew I wasn't going to hit anymore.

JN: Now you've completed that transition and moved to the back of the pen and become a closer, can you remember the first time you blew a save?

MM: The first time I blew a save was probably my freshman summer, I think. I think it was a doubleheader actually, and I think were up by one. Most times when you're going to blow a save you walk a guy, and I walked a guy. They pushed him over, so they had one out and had gotten him over (into scoring position). The next guy fisted a ground ball to the right side and they scored to tie it. I think we might have ended up winning the game, but that was probably the first blown save I had.  

JN: How did you deal with that mentally? Closers are supposed to have that special mentality, but I'd imagine it takes time for that to develop.

MM: It was tough, because it was my job to secure the win, obviously, for the team. All in all, you've got to learn from your mistakes. Probably the biggest thing I took away from that was you've got to get ahead of guys, and especially throwing that ninth inning you can't walk people, because you're essentially giving them free bases. Most of the time you walk a guy in the ninth -- or the first time -- he's probably going to get around to score. It's all about learning from your failures, I guess. 

JN: Was there someone on the staff, maybe, who helped you deal with that first failure?

MM: Everywhere I've played I've learned to be kind of a sponge and take in information from everyone I'm around, so it's been a mixture of everyone, I guess. 

JN: So this year, obviously, you had a lot of success, probably more success than anyone -- Yankees included -- could have imagined so soon. What did you take from this year?

MM: The biggest to me in playing pro ball was that it's a grind, which is expected with so many games and all. The biggest to me, learning, was consistency and learning to find a routine that works for you. You can't really get too high or too low in between all these games, so I had to do something. I found a routine that I stuck to and I did day in and day out that really kept me even keel, I guess.

JN: In the midst of all that success, have you found something that you can get away with in college that you can't get away with in pro ball?

MM: My first outing (in Staten Island), I didn't do too well. That's just from being in college and trying to throw it by guys, not spotting up. Location's big at the next level, and just being able to throw to both sides of the plate consistently, I think. In college, I could kind of just set the catcher up outside and just keep pounding the plate, but you really have to be able to throw inside effectively at this level as well. 

JN: You were one of the very few members of this year's draft class not to be part of the Yankees instructional league. Why was that?

MM: I think the (reason) I heard was from the amount of innings. I threw close to 30 innings, and I think they were just trying to let my arm rest and not really wear it out early. 

JN: So with you're first pro spring training a few months away, what are your goals for the season?

MM: Just improve in everything. You can get better every day. I just want to get around some of the older guys and pick their brains and hear what they have to say. All in all I feel I can improve in every aspect of my game, whether it's mentally, physically, spotting up, arm strength, just preparing for the game all in all. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Top 10 words from the 2012 season - No. 7

Today's word is: Strikeouts

What it means: There were many, many reasons the Thunder's season took a sharp, late spike, not the least of which involved an alarming propensity to strike out. 
- Cody Johnson whiffed 138 times in just 74 games. 
- Melky Mesa missed 37 games and still fanned 129 times. 
- Brad Suttle missed 56 games and racked up 108 Ks.
- Rob Lyerly fanned 93 times in a scant 68 games

In all, Thunder hitters struck out 1,195 times, 27 more than Binghamton, the league's second worst. Of players with 200 or more plate appearances, the Thunder had four of the seven worst. Johnson struck out 43 percent of the time, Lyerly 32 percent, Mesa 29.8 percent and Suttle 28.7 percent of the time. 

As a result of all the whiffing, the Thunder had the league's fourth-worst OBP (.325), its fifth-worst slugging percentage (.380) and its fourth-worst OPS (.705). And, in the end, it was a major reason why they failed to reach the playoffs after a scorching first four months. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interview with John Manuel - Question No. 4

Earlier this month, I spoke with John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel's the man behind ranking the Yankees' top 10 prospects, which were released (in e-magazine form) late last month. During an hourlong interview, I asked him about a number of different topics relating to this year's rankings. Because the chat was so lengthy, I'm going to make a post out of each question. It's more easily digestible that way.

Question 4: You've mentioned the innings cap (earlier in the conversation). Do you think the Yankees do their kids a disservice with such conservative workloads?

John Manuel: The Yankees know their pitchers better than I do, but to me it'd have to be individualized, so I think an innings cap doesn't make sense, period. ... I think everybody's different.

Jhoulys Chacin of the Rockies is a great example of a guy who, I don't even think the Rockies knew or thought he was that good of a prospect ... I don't think he threw more than 170 innings in either of his two full minor league seasons. I've always thought that it made more sense for a guy to throw.

If you want a player to be able to make a contribution in the major leagues, he's got to be able to pitch a full minor league season and be able to throw 150 innings or so in the minor leagues before he can go to the major leagues. I think Ivan Nova was a good example of that. In his 2010 year, he had 40 innings in the big leagues and he'd thrown 145 in the minors, so he was ready for a full big league load. He'd thrown 180 innings, so he's an example.

I think that's more innings than the Yankees usually let their minor league guys throw. A) That's one of the reasons why I was the low man on Nova, because I thought the Yankees didn't think that highly of him because they let him throw that many innings. And B) I think it prepared him for a full big league season, and they never did that with Joba and they never did that with Phil Hughes, and I think it's been to their detriment.

I won't say they do them a disservice, but I do think it has made it harder for young Yankees starting pitchers to hit the big league ground running.

John Manuel: Were you there for the year (in Trenton) when Phil Hughes had the five-inning limit?

Josh Norris: No. I was still in college.

John Manuel:  That was kind of crazy. He was clearly dominant and they limited him, and I don't think it helped him. He's had some big league success. I'm not sure that it's causation that you can say, because he was handled this way, he hasn't been as successful in the major leagues.

I guess the best way to put it is that there are people in the industry who I've talked to about that, and they think that that could be a factor. It's not like it doesn't get noticed that the Yankees are very careful with their minor league pitchers, but that's more of the industry norm now than out of the norm, but that's starting to change.

You see teams like the Rangers and the Diamondbacks are little more open-minded about it than they used to be, but usually you see guys,  like even an Ian Kennedy, his one full season in the minors was 140-150 innings, and that was pretty much it. The Yankees don't generally let those guys throw more than 150 innings, and that's what's going to happen with Betances and Banuelos. They're going to have to be more efficient even to get to 150. They haven't even been efficient enough to get to 150.

Top 10 opposing players for 2012 - No. 7 Robbie Grossman

Bio: Pittsburgh's second-rounder from 2008, Grossman's name is just beginning to catch a star. He stands 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, is 22 years old, and attended Cy-Fair High School, in Cypress, Texas. He received a cool $1 million from the Pirates to bypass the University of Texas.

2011: After putting up solid but unremarkable stat lines over his first three seasons in Pittsburgh's system, Grossman broke out in 2011. He posted a .293/.418/.450 slash line with a 13 home runs 56 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 34 tries. He also became the first minor leaguer in seven years (Nick Swisher) to walk 100 times and score 100 runs.

A switch hitter, Grossman hit .326/.441/.442 versus lefties, and .281/.410/.455 versus righties. For what it's worth, he had just one extra-base hit in 32 at-bats against Tampa pitching last season with Bradenton. 

What People Are Saying: Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus named him his No. 6 Pirates prospect; Baseball America put him at No. 8 on their list. Here's what Goldstein wrote about him over at BP.

"Grossman is technically a five-tool prospect, yet one without a plus tool. He showed a much simpler swing in 2011 and a better feel for contact. He has enough pop to earn average power grades. He's a 50-55 runner who can steal a base when given the opportunity, plays a good outfield, and has a solid arm. It's not a tool, but one of Grossman's most valuable attributes is his plate discipline; he led the minor leagues with 104 walks and rarely commits to a bad pitch."

When You Can See Him: Altoona comes to Trenton July 31-Aug. 2 and Aug 20-22. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top 10 Trenton Thunder players for 2012 - No. 7: Dan Burawa

 Bio: Burawa was the Yankees' 12th round selection, a right-handed relief pitcher from St. John's University. He's 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, 23 years old. and grew up a Yankees fan. You can find him on Twitter at @dannyburawa. 

I did a small write-up on Burawa this season, which you can read by following this link

Last year: Burawa started last year in Charleston, where he paired with fellow 2010 draftee Tommy Kahnle to form a powerful back end of the RiverDogs bullpen. Both pitchers showed they can light up a radar gun, but only Burawa showed  control. 

That sense of the strike zone earned him a promotion to Tampa at the end of June, where he regressed a little from his performance in Charleston, but was still solid nonetheless. 

With Charleston: 3-2, 44.2 IP, 3.63 ERA, 36 H, 21 R, 18 ER, 6 HR, 35 SO, 15 BB
With Tampa: 2-2, 3.66, 39. 1 IP, 41 H, 18 R, 16 ER, 0 HR, 31 SO, 9 BB -- .339 vs. RHB/.228 vs. LHB

Here's what one scout had to say about Burawa: 

"He's got a chance to be a bullpen guy for sure, I mean a legit arm. I'm not sure it's as a closer, but he's got a chance to be a legitimate bullpen guy, at the very least a good set-up man."

What's Next: Burawa will probably begin the year in Trenton, where he'll form a strong bullpen with Chase Whitley, Preston Claiborne, Grant Duff and Josh Romanski. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thunder announce staff additions, promotions for 2012

(Trenton, NJ)- The Trenton Thunder, the Double A affiliate of the New York Yankees, have announced several promotions and additions to the Front Office Staff in preparation for the 2012 season that will begin on April 5 at home against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.   
The Thunder welcome four new employees and have promoted nine from within as the organization moves forward after a year that saw a 5% increase in attendance per game.
“I rank our staff with any in Minor League Baseball.  In a business that has annual turnover, we’ve done an outstanding job of adding talented staff members to those positions that have vacancies while keeping a core group of employees intact," said Thunder General Manager Will Smith. "We continue to educate seasonal staff members to give them the tools to become full-time employees.  It’s a great business, and we have a tremendous staff. "
"I cannot wait for Opening Day on April 5th to continue to show our fans how hard our staff works throughout the off-season to prepare 71 events for their entertainment,” Smith added.
The staff changes begin with Jeff Hurley who has been promoted to Director, Finance/Baseball Operations.  Jeff, who grew up in Hamilton, NJ, was an intern with the Thunder in 2004.  He joined the full time ticket sales staff the following year and from 2007-2011 was the Accounting Manager and the team's baseball operations liason with the New York Yankees.
East Windsor, NJ resident Greg Lavin has been elevated to Director, Creative & Audiovisual Services.  He joined the Thunder in 2005 as a Production Department Intern and is responsible for all aspects of game day fan entertainment including in-game promotions, music and videos as well as producing print items such as brochures and other marketing pieces. 

The Thunder are pleased to welcome Patrick McMaster as the Director, Corporate Partnerships and Business Development.  Patrick, a native of Hanover, PA, has spent the last seven years working in Minor League Baseball including his most recent stop as the Assistant General Manager of Sales for the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Class A, Florida State League).
Bobby Picardo, who began his career as a Thunder intern in 2009, has been promoted to Ticket Sales Manager.  Bobby, who grew up in Atlanitc Highlands, NJ, will sell new group and ticket packages, coordinate the Baseball Camp & High School Baseball series as well as help oversee the team's internship program.

Nate Schneider, who joined the Thunder in 2011, has been promoted to Group Sales Account Executive.  The native of Pottsville, PA spent 2010 working for the Reading Phillies and will sell various group and hospitality options to businesses and community groups.

Millstone Township, NJ's Caitlin Reardon has been promoted to Ticket Sales Account Executive for the 2012 season.  Caitlin was a Thunder game day employee from 2006-2008, worked full time for Sky Blue FC of Women's Professional Soccer for 2009 and 2010 and then rejoined the Thunder last year.  In her new role, she will coordinate the team's Most Improved Student and School Music Awards Programs and sell ticket packages, while also monitoring the team's presence on Twitter. 

Jennifer Murphy, a native of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts has made the transition from Merchandise Assistant to Business Development Executive for 2012.  Jennifer spent last season helping manage the Thunder Company Store and will focus on selling season tickets, ticket packages and group outings to local businesses this season.  

Jeremy Sanders, who grew up in Scotch Plains, NJ and Caracas, Venezuela, worked as a Ticket Sales Intern for the Thunder in 2011.  He has joined the staff full time as a Ticket Sales Account Representative where he will sell ticket packages and serve as a team liason to the local Spanish-speaking community. 

Chris Kiernan has joined the Thunder as a Seasonal Group Sales Account Representative.  Chris, a native of Lacey, NJ, spent the 2011 season as a Ticket Sales Assistant with the Lakewood BlueClaws (Class A, South Atlantic League) and will coordinate group outings at the ballpark for companies and community organizations. 
Lindsey Ravior of Minotola, NJ, has been brought on as a Seasonal Group Sales Account Representative.  Lindsey spent last season working in the Ticket Department for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Class A, Carolina League). 
Two members of the 2011 Trenton Thunder Internship Program, Jess Ridolfino of Crosswicks, NJ and Kevin Ertel of Brick, NJ have joined the Front Office Staff for next season.  Jess will serve as a Ticket Sales Intern while Kevin will serve as Group Sales Coordinator.

Rounding out the staff changes is the hiring of Breanne O'Neill as Merchandise Assistant. Breanne, from Yardley, PA, is a June 2011 graduate of Drexel University.  
The Thunder Front Office now includes ten people who served as interns for the organization.  These include Hurley, Lavin, Picardo, Reardon, Sanders, Ridolfino and Ertel above as well as  Director of Ticket Operations Matt Pentima, Stadium Operations Manager Steve Brokowskyand Group Sales Account Executive T.J. Jahn.  FULL STAFF LIST
The 2012 Trenton Thunder season will begin on Thursday, April 5 against New Hampshire.  Season Tickets, Group Tickets, Pic-A-Plans and Mini Plans are all on sale now at      

Top 10 Thunder players from 2011 - No. 7: Austin Krum

Why He's Here: Krum had two distinct stretches with the Thunder. The first lasted from Opening Day until May 20, and the second spanned from Aug. 4 until season's end. He provided valuable experience to an otherwise green team, added an element of speed on the bases and played excellent defense in both left and center field. 

Here's how his two terms in Trenton broke down: 

Stretch 1: .242/.348/.293, 6 2B, 3B, 0 HR, 13 RBIs, 14 SB, 0 CS
Stretch 2: .273/.328/.405, 4 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBIs, 5 SB, 3 CS

Most Memorable Moment: See that triple during the Krum's first stint? That was one of the crazier triples you'll ever see, because half the players on the field thought it was a home run. For a clearer look, here's a link to the game story from that day.

In a nutshell, Krum's long fly ball to right field hit the top of the wall and bounced back into play. The hit won the game, but it wasn't easy. The winning runner, Addison Maruszak, as well as third-base coach Justin Pope, thought the ball had left the yard. Both men realized the ball was in play very late, and Maruszak barely beat the throw home.

Aside from Jeanmar Gomez's perfect game a few years ago, it was the craziest end to a game I've seen at Waterfront Park.

Outlook for 2012: Krum's case for 2012 is interesting. On merit, he should be at Triple-A, but Cole Garner, DeWayne Wise, Kevin Russo, Dan Brewer, Ray Kruml and Chris Dickerson all could make the same case. Similarly, the Trenton outfield could easily filled without Krum. Zoilo Almonte, DeAngelo Mack and Melky Mesa would do the trick. With that in mind, I wouldn't be surprised to see Krum reduced to a fourth outfielder's role or wind up "injured" for most of the year. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Top 10 unpublished interviews from 2011 - No. 8

One of the Yankees' brightest young pitching prospects, Dellin Betances started the year at Trenton before finally getting a chance to show his stuff at the major league level in September. 

It wasn't the greatest debut in the world, but he finally got a chance to get his feet wet in the world of major league baseball. I caught up with Betances at Yankee Stadium in late September in the Bronx. Here's what he had to say. 

Josh Norris: It probably wasn't the way you wanted to debut, but was it at least nice to finally get that notch on your belt?

Dellin Betances: Yeah. First one out there, I definitely got emotions going and adrenalin. I was just throwing mostly -- I didn't really pitch. You know, I was happy to get the first one out of the way. Family was here, a lot of people supporting me and had my back after the game.

JN: Did your family know you were coming into that game, or did they just buy tickets every day and hope you got a chance? 

DB: I had a feeling, just the way the game was going. I didn't know I was necessarily pitching that day, but they came to every game. 

JN: When you were here last year at this time (for the Yankees' rookie development camp), what did you learn that helped you this time around?

DB: Just the way everything works, just how to go about your business and work. Be responsible, responsibility -- that's most of what I learned. 

JN: Who taught you guys? Who sat with you and explained what it's like in the big leagues?

DB: Last year, if I recall, I tried to stay as much as I can with some of the rookies, like Nova was here, Nunez, but as far as veterans like CC. I spoke to CC pretty good, and Mariano Rivera. Those guys just told me some stuff about how to approach the game and always try to have fun. 

JN: If I'm correct, this is your first time being active during a Yankees-Red Sox game, what's the first taste of the rivalry like?

DB: It's great. This is what I always watched when I was younger. To be a part of this is awesome. I've witnessed the last week or so in the time I've been here and I've seen some great things, like Mariano breaking the record and us clinching the division. 

I've seen (Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson) around the last couple of days. This is awesome, I mean, as far as Reggie Jackson goes, these are guys you always hear about -- Yogi Berra -- how they were treated here in New York, what they did here and the championships they won. Now, to be here with Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, these are guys that always play when I watch when I was younger, so it's pretty cool to be with them. 

JN: You were around for the Yankees clinching the division. As someone who'd only been up for a little while, what was it like being a part of all that?

DB: It was awesome. It was pretty weird because I felt like I didn't do anything for that. It was pretty weird, but I tried to celebrate as much as I can with them and just know that this is something that I want to get used to and just try to contribute this year. 

JN: Where were you when you found out you were coming up?

DB: I was in Scranton. Right after the game, Scott Aldred just pulled a couple of us aside. Honestly, I really didn't believe it. It started hitting me when I flew into Anaheim, Orange County. I really couldn't believe what was going on. 

JN: As a New Yorker, had you seen much of the West Coast before?

DB: I've been to San Diego, that's about it. San Diego when I was 15 to play youth league for a couple of weeks, but Orange County's beautiful. It was great, and Toronto was a good experience too. 

Interview with John Manuel - Question 3

Earlier this month, I spoke with John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel's the man behind ranking the Yankees' top 10 prospects, which were released (in e-magazine form) late last month. During an hourlong interview, I asked him about a number of different topics relating to this year's rankings. Because the chat was so lengthy, I'm going to make a post out of each question. It's more easily digestible that way.

Question: Last season, Baseball America ranked Dellin Betances ahead of Manny Banuelos on its Top 10 list. What changed this year that caused the flip-flop?

John Manuel: Last year, that was really, strongly, the opinion of the organization, inside the organization, was that they liked Betances more than Banuelos. That was very strongly put across to me last year. 

A big part of it is that every year we start with an eastern division, one year it's the AL East, the next year it's the NL East. Last year, we started with the American League East, so the Yankees were one of the first teams we did. I did that ranking in October. ... When I was at the Winter Meetings (after the Prospect Handbook was finalized), I think the industry consensus would have been that Banuelos was ahead of Betances. If I had it to do in December, I would have put Banuelos over Betances. 

Really, coming into the year, in my head, Banuelos was ahead of Betances, even though last October it was the other way around. They basically had the same kind of year, and I think the industry consensus will tell you that clubs would take the left-hander in that situation. Most clubs would take the guy who's more of a normal size as opposed to the beast. Most guys would take the guy who has a delivery that should allow him to throw more strikes. 

That said, I still have -- even outside the organization -- scouts that I've talked to have kind of liked Betances more than Banuelos over the years, just because he has bigger stuff. They both have one similar drawback, and that's they both had health issues -- obviously, Banuelos hasn't been cut on like Dellin has -- but I think Banuelos' walk rate was surprising this year, not what you'd expect from a compact, pretty good delivery left-hander. I really don't get a good answer on why his walk rate was what it was this year. 

Some guys say he rushed his delivery, some guys say it's not being consistent -- a mental focus kind of issue -- I didn't get a consistent answer inside or outside the system as to why he struggled to throw consistent, quality strikes this year. I think people expect him to do that more than Betances down the line. Younger, left-handed, a delivery that's more conducive to throwing quality strikes, those are all good reasons to rank Manny Banuelos ahead of Dellin Betances. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Top 10 words from last season - No. 8

Today's word is: Mania

What it means: When the 2010 season ended with Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos on the roster, it was very clear that, barring something strange, the Thunder were going to house the Yankees' top two pitching prospects in 2011.

The winter came and went, and both pitchers remained in pinstripes. In an offseason interview with me, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman even went so far as to say that those two pitchers were who Thunder fans should look out for in 2011.

Then came spring training, and Banuelos made the best of his chance to open everybody's eyes. He stuck in big league camp until the very end, putting on impressive outing after impressive outing, the crown jewel of which came in a start against, of all teams, the Red Sox.

Fans and the media clamored for Banuelos to make the jump north with the Yankees, either as the team's fifth starter or a lockdown lefty out of the bullpen. Still, he was only 20 (and won't be 21 until March), and needed far more refinement than he showed in spring.

After the pair were both reassigned to minor league camp, both were sent to Trenton, as expected. Thus, when each pitcher started, a load of attention was directed toward New Jersey's capital city. People wanted pitch counts, ball-strike breakdowns, and any update possible when Betances or Banuelos took the hill.

Even after they left Trenton late in the season, the mania followed them. After Banuelos' first start in Scranton -- which Brian Cashman and Billy Eppler attended -- the media at his locker following the game rivaled just about anything I've ever seen at Yankee Stadium.

Unless they're included in a trade this offseason, they're both likely to be back in Scranton's* rotation to start 2012, and where they go, the mania is sure to follow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yankees sign three to minor league deals

As reported by Baseball America's Matt Eddy, who's really good at this sort of stuff, the Yankees have signed RHP Adam Miller and OFers Cole Garner and DeWayne Wise. 

Miller finally got back on the mound in 2011, after missing the entirety of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He spent most of his year with  Double-A Akron, where he went 1-4 with a 6.27 ERA over 23 games and 33 innings. He allowed 43 hits (but no longballs) and had a ghastly WHIP of 1.79. 

Garner, 27, made his major league debut this year, playing in four games with the Rockies. He got his first of two big league hits on July 8, a single off of John Lannan. He added a second hit six days later, an infield single off of former Yankees reliever LaTroy Hawkins. 

Wise, besides saving Mark Buehrle's perfect game, has cobbled together a .219/.256/.373 line over 445 career major league games. Of his 22 career longballs, seven have come against past and present Yankees, including Carl Pavano (twice), CC Sabathia, Kerry Wood, Alfredo Aceves, Kyle Farnsworth and Jeff Weaver. 

Of those three, I'd expect only Miller would see significant time with the Thunder this season. 

Top 10 opposing players for 2012 - No. 8: Bryce Brentz

Bio: Boston's first supplemental first-rounder from 2010, Brentz is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound outfielder from Middle Tennessee State. He was taken with a compensatory pick received from the Mets for signing away Jason Bay.

Brentz received a signing bonus of $889,200 from Boston, and spent his initial time in pro ball with Lowell, the Red Sox affiliate in the New York-Penn League. He struggled to a .198/.259/.340 line with the Spinners, although 23 of his 52 hits went for extra bases.

He was also selected by the Indians in the 30th round of the 2007 draft.

2011: After the scuffles in Lowell, Brentz broke out in a big way this year with Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem. He put together an overall .306/.365/.574 line, with a gaudy 25 doubles, 30 home runs and 93 RBIs along the way. With Greenville, his wRC+ was an eye-popping 184. It lowered to a merely amazing 140 with Salem. 

What People Are Saying: Baseball America named Brentz its No. 5 prospect in the Red Sox system. Here's what they had to say.

"In a system filled with intriguing sluggers, Brentz has the most usable power. He combines explosive bat speed with pure strength, and he turned a corner when he realized his homers would come naturally. He toned down an all-or-nothing approach and used the field more in 2011, though his plate discipline still has room for improvement. "

When You Can See Him: Portland comes to Trenton April 9-11, May 10-13, June 22-25 and July 7-9. 

Top 10 Players from 2011 - No. 8: Pat Venditte

Why He's Here: Aside from the obvious aesthetic allure of watching a switch-pitcher do his work, Venditte was able to rebound from a rough start last year to become one of the bullpen's most valuable and durable pitchers.

From May until the end of August, Venditte never had an ERA higher than 3.00 in any month, and pitched to a stellar 1.57 mark in May.

He got lefties out to the tune of .213/.273/.309.

Most Memorable Moment: Not really a moment, but a streak. From May 5 until June 9, Venditte did not allow an earned run. That stretch ended when Reading's Matt Rizzotti clubbed a game-ending home run off of him at FirstEnergy Park, in Reading.

Before that bomb, Venditte had gone 23 straight innings without an earned run, and just one unearned run. He allowed 12 hits during that stretch, struck out 23 and walked nine.

Outlook for 2012: There's a small chance the numbers game shoves him back to Trenton, but I think he's likely bound for the Empire State Yankees and their traveling road show. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Interview with John Manuel - Question 2

Earlier today, I spoke with John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel's the man behind ranking the Yankees' top 10 prospects, which were released (in e-magazine form) late last month. During an hourlong interview, I asked him about a number of different topics relating to this year's rankings. Because the chat was so lengthy, I'm going to make a post out of each question. It's more easily digestible that way.

Question 2: The previous question seems to dovetail nicely into my next question. One of the bigger differences between Montero and Sanchez, as I see it, is a lack of want. There were a number of behavioral issues this year with Sanchez, whereas Montero, for all his failings behind the plate, has made it clear to anyone who will listen that he very badly wants to be a catcher long-term. What did your contacts say about Sanchez's make-up this year?

John Manuel: One of my notes from inside the organization definitely said 'I wish that you did not rank him second last year.' I think all players need to show that they can handle success and they all need to show that they can handle failure. For Sanchez, he hadn't had any failure until this year. He did not show that he can handle success that well. He didn't handle prosperity terribly well -- it seemed like it went to his head. 

It does seem like he handled failure a little bit better. Once he got back on the field, he was better in the second half, it seemed like. That's all the reports that I have. Maybe he learned his lesson from that (organizational suspension). To me, the story of not wanting to call the breaking ball because he's afraid to get embarrassed, that's an immaturity thing. That's the kind of thing where you hope it gets worked out of his system. 

I do think that a level of arrogance is necessary for all these players. I think you've got to go beyond confidence. I think there's a level of arrogance that you have to have to be a major leaguer, especially a star. He's got that. 

One of the things that I think is most apparent on Twitter and on the Internet, especially with the media today, we don't seem to remember that the game is supposed to humble you. There are not a lot of humble writers who cover baseball anymore. Twitter, I guess, does not reward humility, but I think the game still does with players, and this is where you learn it. You learn it more in the South Atlantic League -- it's better for you to learn it in the South Atlantic League. I definitely think he got some of that (humility) this year. 

Our indications and our reports are that he was better (in the second half). You're going to regain your confidence when you hit like he hit, so I think that is something he's always able to fall back on. He can fall out of bed hitting and he has some patience and he controls the strike zone pretty well for an 18-year-old and he has mad power. I think that this guy's offense is going to buy him time to grow up and to get better defensively. 

Those two negatives are undeniable, but I like to focus on what the guy can do, and he can freakin' hit. I don't think that should be lost in detailing his defensive or maturity issues. Those can be fixed; it's hard to find catchers who can hit like him.

Interview with John Manuel - Question 1

Earlier today, I spoke with John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel's the man behind ranking the Yankees' top 10 prospects, which were released (in e-magazine form) late last month. During an hourlong interview, I asked him about a number of different topics relating to this year's rankings. Because the chat was so lengthy, I'm going to make a post out of each question. It's more easily digestible that way.

Question 1: It seems that Jesus Montero's future as a catcher in name only is pretty widely cemented throughout the industry. That doesn't seem to be the case for Gary Sanchez, however, the system's other offensive firebrand at backstop. In your experience so far, what have evaluators said about Sanchez's defense?

John Manuel: It's pretty universal that people think that he has better physical ability to catch than Jesus Montero. Sanchez, he's not as big, that's where it all starts. I think Jesus Montero, I'm sure he was a little bit better this year at times than he was in previous years. I hear there are things that he does better defensively than he used to, but he's just so big. The Yankees can, and have, talked about his increased flexibility and all those things, but he is who he is. He's 6-4 and he's at least 225 pounds, and Sanchez just isn't that big. 

Sanchez, I think, has a good catcher's frame and has a chance to be similarly offensive and I think a little bit more of a classic offensive player than Montero, who's a bit of a front-foot hitter, not a classic pure swing, but it does sound like Sanchez's receiving is rudimentary. 

The story I had was at times he would not call a breaking ball with pitchers. He would not call for a breaking ball, because he did not have the confidence that he could catch the breaking ball. One that I cited was Mark Montgomery, their 11th-round pick this year. His first outing in Charleston this year, he had five strikeouts in an inning. We've all heard of four, but I think five is really unusual. Sanchez just couldn't catch the breaking ball. 

The way the Yankees put it, and what I tried to convey this year, I finally got a Yankees official to admit that catching and throwing are lower priorities for them than they are for other organizations. They look for offensive catchers. It's true in the draft, it's true internationally. They are less interested in the Francisco Cervellis than they are in the Gary Sanchezes and the Jesus Monteros. 

I won't be surprised if they give Jesus Montero an extended opportunity to catch at the major league level. The baseline is Jorge Posada. Everybody has seen Posada over the years clank balls. He's not a good receiver, he's a below-average receiver. I'm not a scout, but I've talked to scouts about Posada, and at the very least, he's a below-average receiver. That's the baseline -- if you can receive as well as Jorge Posada, and if you can hit in that neighborhood, you're going to get a chance to catch for the New York Yankees. 

That's what the Yankees are looking for, so if you're looking at Gary Sanchez and you're seeing his receiving foibles right now, do it in the South Atlantic League. Figure it out in the low minors. That's what the low minors are about. 

I still ranked him fourth this year. Last year we were very aggressive with him. This year I just think Banuelos and Betances deserved to be ranked ahead of him, because their ceilings are also considerable, but they both require some polish as well. 

Sanchez's ceiling remains extremely high, and the Yankees believe between (catching instructor) Julio Mosquera and putting a guy like Torre Tyson in charge of defense in the organization, I think it does tell you that the organization does value instruction for defense, and they're still honing what Torre and the whole organization wants to do as far as instruction on the defensive side. They're going to put in a lot of time and make every effort to make Gary Sanchez an acceptable defender. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Top 10 players for 2012 - No. 8: DeAngelo Mack

Bio: Mack, the Yankees' selection in the 13th round of the 2009 draft, is a 25-year-old ou totfielder from Tulare, Calif., who played his college ball at the University of South Carolina. While a Gamecock, Mack was teammates with now-former Yankees farmhand Nick Ebert, as well as Jackie Bradley, Jr., Boston's fourth choice from the most recent draft. 
In three seasons in the system (two full), Mack has accumulated a .274/.351/.442 slash line, to go with 58 doubles, 27 HRs and 144 RBIs.

Last year: Mack was promoted to Double-A on May 27, and lasted nearly two months, with a spell on the disabled list mixed in. Mack held his own with the Thunder, hitting just .248, but getting on base at a .357 clip. He socked four home runs and drove in 16 before being bumped back to Tampa on Aug. 2.

He also posted a wOBA of .345 and a wRC+ of 112 during his time with Trenton.

What's Next: Mack split last season between Tampa and Trenton, and will more than likely return to Waterfront Park this season, probably in left field, where he'll line up with Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte in what should be an interesting and powerful group.