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

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 6 - Could Rondon make the rotation?

Donnie Collins and I spoke with Mark Newman after the games finished, and he had a few interesting things to say about the Thunder's probable rotation. All along, I'd figured that Jose Ramirez, Zach Nuding and Nik Turley were going to be a part of Trenton's staff. 

Three names I didn't expect to hear were Francisco Rondon, Jeremy Bleich or Graham Stoneburner. Of the three, I'd say Rondon came the most out of left field. He hasn't started a game since 2009 with Staten Island, and looked pretty darn good during MLB camp coming out of the bullpen. Given the Yankees' ever-constant search for a complement to Boone Logan out of the bullpen, I'd figured they'd go with the guy with the low-to-mid-90s heat and the plus slider. 

With Vidal Nuno looking more and more like a viable option, however, perhaps the Yankees thought it might be best to take a chance. In any case, Newman said that if they decide to keep Rondon as a reliever, he'll go to Triple-A. If he's a starter, he could go to either Scranton or Trenton. 

As for Bleich, he hasn't started for Trenton since May 2010, and pitched no more than three innings in any of his 16 outings -- eight starts -- at GCL, Staten Island and Tampa last season. He pitched one-hit innings for the Trenton group on Saturday, so they're at least stretching him out. After just 74 innings since 2010, he definitely does need to put a bit of mileage back on his left arm. 

Stoneburner began last year as a starter, quickly injured his leg, came back, then quickly re-aggravated the same injury. When he returned, Mikey O'Brien and Vidal Nuno had established themselves in Trenton's rotation, and Stoneburner was forced into the bullpen.

The stuff for Stoneburner has always been fine -- a low-90s heater, a slider and a change-up -- it's staying healthy that's given him fits. Personally, I think he works better out of the bullpen, where his heater can play up a few ticks. 

Sunday was the first of what I expect to be many impressive displays from Tyler Austin. The Thunder's right fielder launched two long home runs in an intrasquad game versus the Scranton group. I don't know the final score of the game, but I'd have to guess it was something like 15-0 based on how much loud contact I heard and saw. Below are videos of both home runs. 

You'll notice that Ramon Flores scored on both longballs. The left fielder, who turns 21 on Tuesday, smacked two singles and a double in the intrasquad game. He's looked absolutely spectacular since I've been here. Excellent eye, bat control and a short, quick stroke which should produce plenty of excitement at Arm & Hammer Park this season. 

More notes on the rotation, plus stuff on Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott (whom you can see running in the videos below) and J.R. Murphy can be found in my story for today's Trentonian. That's all for today. The Trenton group (and I ) will head to Clearwater tomorrow for a game against Phillies kids. Talk to you then. 


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