Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Postgame Notes - May 29 (Youkxeira, Day 1)
Final score: Trenton 3, Erie 1
Synopsis: Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis showed up for some fun on kids day, but then some of the Yankees' best kids stole the show. Teixeira and Youkilis each drew a walk (and Youkilis wound up scoring the winner), but were otherwise non-factors. Slade Heathcott's solo shot (an opposite-field blast) and Tyler Austin's two-run jimmy jack provided all the offense Zach Nuding, Jeremy Bleich, Branden Pinder and Tommy Kahnle needed.
What went right: First and foremost, Teixeira and Youkilis came through the day unscathed. If they do so again tomorrow, they'll get the green light and be activated for Friday's start of Red Sox-Yankees in the Bronx.
Still, their days in the field weren't exactly action-packed. Youkilis got just one chance (a liner on which he barely had to move), and Teixeira did no fielding save for catching throws. Each player went 0 for 2 with a walk in their seven innings before being lifted. I'd guess they play the full nine tomorrow.
What went right, non-Youkxeira edition: Heathcott and Austin continued their emergence from early-season doldrums. Heathcott got the Thunder on the board with a laser longball to left, and Austin put them ahead for good on a shot few feet to the left of where Heathcott's HR hit off the left-field advertising.
Here's how each young hitter has fared over his last 10 days:
Austin: .316/.378/.632, three doubles, three HRs, nine RBIs, five BBs, five Ks Heathcott: .262/.295/.452, two doubles, two HRs, 10 RBIs, two BBs, 10 Ks
Obviously you'd like to see a little more OBP from Heathcott, but it's a major improvement from where he was in the early going. The tools are there. It's just a matter of making them click. Moreover, he's hitting balls hard, which is a change from the first month.
In talking to him, he sounds like a young man searching for consistency, both at-bat and in his mental approach from trip to trip, and sometimes even from pitch to pitch.
"Still playing with things and changing some stuff up. I've been seeing the ball a lot better, and I think that's the start of things. If you can see it, you can hit it. Just trying to get myself in a position to hit and get ready to hit the fastball, be on time for that, and hopefully react to the offspeed."
"I think it's more mental than anything. A lot of things, I think hitting's a lot more mental than anything. The last three weeks, I've probably had 10 different swings. It's one of those things (where I'm) just trying to see the ball. Just trying to play around with it each AB, you know, going from one AB to the next trying to figure out something that I can change, something that will give me the edge to see the ball a little bit better and be able to react to the fastball a little bit better."
Austin's early slump came with a little bit of a silver lining. Even though he wasn't hitting, he was getting on base. His .387 OBP was third on the team in April, behind J.R. Murphy and Rob Segedin. His 20 walks for the month were tied with Greg Bird for the most in the organization, MLB included.
What you can take from that is: Even as he struggled to recognize breaking pitches, he had a pretty good idea of the strike zone. That's always a good thing to have in your back pocket in the middle of a slump. Now that he's combining his keen eye with his ability to barrel the ball, the Thunder might just have a bona fide middle-of-the-order threat.
"I feel like it's gotten a lot better. Still not where I want to be yet. Still working hard on the field in the cage, during BP and in early work and stuff like that trying to figure the little things out. But it's been a lot better."
"I'd say (my pitch recognition) has gotten a lot better. I'm starting to see the ball a little bit better, which is ultimately making me take pitches that I shouldn't be swinging at. I think it was (a little bit of a problem early on.) I was swinging at a few pitches that I shouldn't have been, but it's getting better and it's going to continue to get better."
For his part, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who, as always sat in the stands with the masses, was pleased with the show his two young outfielders put on.
“I see those guys turning up the heat when the heat turns up, it’s great,” he said. “To see Slade hit that opposite-field homer and then Tyler pop that two-run shot, it’s good to see. It’s nice to tell the people and the fans, ‘Hey, these guys are going to play in New York.’”
Big Nude Shows Off: Very quietly, Zach Nuding pitched the best game of his Double-A career. He allowed four hits and a run over six innings, walked nobody and fanned four before handing it over to Jeremy Bleich, Branden Pinder and Tommy Kahnle. Moreover, the only run he allowed came in the sixth on a Eugenio Velez homer. This is significant because, of his 34 runs allowed this year, 31 have come in innings one through four.
Over and Out: After the game, Josh Romanski found out he'd been traded to the White Sox. At this point, it appears to be for a player to be named later. He'll report to Double-A Birmingham of the Southern League. Notable Southern League alumnus? Michael Jordan, athlete and shoe endorser of note. Romanski had been on the paper disabled list since early May.
Picks to click: Here is my game story and Nick Peruffo's notes from Wednesday Flick to click: Here is a short highlight film I made from the action: