Blogs > Minor Matters

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Banuelos to the Thunder

(Trentonian File Photo/JACKIE SCHEAR)

The Thunder got a surprise start Tuesday evening against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats from one of the bigger names in the Yankees minor league system — lefthander Manny Banuelos.

He was transferred from High-A Tampa before the game.

The 5-foot-10 Banuelos has been considered one of the best prospects in the Yankees organization ever since signing as an international free agent out of Monterrey, Mexico in 2008. The high-water mark of his career to date came in 2011, when he impressed in big league camp, posted a 3.59 ERA in 20 starts with the Thunder, and was promoted to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre while still just 20 years old.

Since that season, however, Banuelos has struggled to remain healthy. He was shut down due to elbow pain after just six starts in 2012, and missed all of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery that October. In five starts for Tampa this season, he recorded a 2.84 ERA. 

To make room for him on the roster, the Thunder sent reliever Jairo Heredia to Short Season-A Staten Island. Heredia had a 3.97 ERA in seven appearances this season.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

GAME 18: Thunder (11-7) vs. Akron RubberDucks (9-9)

RHP Nuding (1-0, 2.89) vs. RHP Will Roberts (2-1, 3.50)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mitchell called up to the Yankees

Baseball America's Josh Norris (a former Trentonian great) is reporting that Bryan Mitchell has been called up to the Yankees. This would make sense considering Gil Patterson was in Trenton last night. More to come.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

GAME 16: Erie 10, Thunder 6

GAME 16: Thunder (9-6) vs Erie SeaWolves (5-8)


Friday, April 18, 2014

GAME 15: Thunder (8-6) vs. Erie SeaWolves (5-7)

Tony Franklin on Diego Moreno:

 Is he your closer?

No, its not safe to say that. It’s safe to say we have guys who can pitch multiple innings, but it just seems like he’s been the guy in there for the ninth inning. You can assume what you want. We’ve got guys down there that are capable of doing it. Now, I don’t want to sound stupid about this. He’s been very effective in that roll, and we’ll probably go to him, but we’ve got a lot of guys down there you might see in the ninth simply because they need to throw multiple innings. We don’t have a designated closer or a designated long guy or whatever. We have pitchers down there we think can get the job done at the end of the game.

What has made him so effective?

Great changeup, can’t you see it? You know its coming, and you still can’t lay off of it. He has great arm speed with it. If you go up there and sit on it, I still don’t know if you are going to be able to hit it. He throws strikes, attacks the zone to get ahead of hitters, and he uses that changeup effectively. 

Comparable to Edwar Ramirez?

It’s comparable. Edwar got to the big leagues throwing it. Trevor Hoffman had a pretty good career throwing it. It’s a heck of a pitch, and he utilizes it well, controls it well, commands it well. It’s a good pitch for him.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

GAME 14: Thunder (7-6) vs Erie SeaWolves (5-6)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

GAME 6: Thunder (3-2) vs. Portland Sea Dogs (2-3)

GAME 5: Thunder 10, Portland 1

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

GAME 5 (take two): Thunder (2-2) vs Portland Sea Dogs (2-2)

Roster moves: To accommodate Tyler Austin and Taylor Garrison on the roster, Tyson Blaser and Joel De La Cruz have been placed on Staten Island's roster.  

Austin's return: After getting to Trenton Monday, Tyler Austin is in the Thunder lineup for the first time this season, DHing and hitting fifth. Austin is expected to play both third and first as well as right, but it looks like Tony Franklin is easing him into the lineup a little bit. Here he is yesterday:

Also, here are some pics from Jackie Schear of Sunday's win:

Monday, April 7, 2014

GAME 5: Thunder (2-2) vs. Portland Sea Dogs (2-2) POSTPONED


Pitching matchup: Thunder's LHP Matt Tracy (0-0) vs. RHP Mike McCarthey (0-0)

DH Mason Williams
CF Ben Gamel
3B Rob Segedin
C Gary Sanchez
2B Rob Refsnyder
1B Zach Wilson
RF Yeral Sanchez
LF Taylor Dugas
SS Ali Caston

2B Mookie Betts
SS Deven Marrero
LF Carlos Rivera
DH Stefan Welch
RF Henry Ramos
C Blake Swihart
3B Sean Coyle
1B Michael Brenly
CF Shannon Wilkerson

NOTES: After sitting out the Thunder's 11-5 win over New Hampshire Sunday, 2B Rob Refsnyder is back in the Trenton lineup. Refsnyder hit second the first three games, but went 0-for-12 with just 1 walk, so it makes some sense that he is dropped down to fifth in the batting order. Also, Mason Williams is getting a little bit of a break from centerfield.

All that, of course, is if the rain holds off...which it doesn't look like its going to. Visual proof of tarp on field:

Also, the Trentonian scheduling gods decided I should miss the Thunder's 11-5 win Sunday, but you can read Ed Morlock's recap here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

GAME 3: Thunder 6, New Hampshire 5

After two relatively brutal games to swatch (and, I'm sure, to play in given the conditions), the Thunder got their first win of the season Saturday night with an awesome walk-off single from Mason Williams in the bottom of the 9th inning. Here is the play:

 Williams now has four hits in his first three games of the season, which - small sample size or not - is definitely reason for optimism, especially considering how much he struggled in his time in Trenton last season. More than just the hits, his approach seems to be much better than it was last year, as he's been able to work some deep at-bats and, as was the case in his game-winner, battle back when he does fall behind in the count. Considering that his dad was a receiver for the New England Patriots, it seemed likely Mason was going to add some more strength as he developed, and he has certainly looked that way this season. Here he is talking about this season compared to last:

Another guy that had a good day was Rob Segedin, who went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs and a run scored. At Tuesday's media day, Segedin (who like your author went to Roll Wave) talked a lot about the improved flexibility and strength in his hips after two offseason surgeries. Here he is singling home Williams to tie the game in the 8th:

(Apparently his hips weren't quite flexible enough to avoid getting tagged out at second on this attempted double.)

Also of note: the Thunder got a big lift from New Hampshire reliever Randy Boone, who threw consecutive run-scoring wild pitches. Mason Williams was on base at the time, and Boone seemed particularly bother by his presence, so he kept throwing the ball to first. That, somehow, inspired a heckler to start calling him Daniel Boone, as in PITCH THE BALL, DANIEL BOONE. So, in a sense, that wildness was appropriate. Here is one of those plays:

GAME 3: Thunder (0-2) vs. New Hampshire (2-0)

Friday, April 4, 2014

GAME 2: New Hampshire 7, Thunder 3

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the Thunder's 7-3 loss to the Fisher Cats Friday night is that it was an improvement over their 6-0 loss opening night. Though they struggled early against starter Deck McGuire, they started to put some hits together off of the Fisher Cats bullpen and actually had a chance to get back into the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth before Taylor Dugas grounded into a double play.

While obviously trying to find trends after two games isn't helpful, it was also nice to see Mason Williams pick up a hit for the second game in a row, especially after his tough start at Double-A last year. Here is some video - not exactly Ruthian, but it still counts.

Zach Wilson also got the legs moving on this infield RBI single in the sixth...the Thunder's first run of the season.

On the mound, Jeremy Bleich actually threw the ball pretty well, particularly with his breaking pitches. Given the result, he was understandably frustrated with himself after the game for not making his best pitches in the big spots, but considering he is still coming back from pretty significant shoulder surgery it was an encouraging start to the season.

Also, before the game, I got to talk to Rob Refsnyder for the first time, and I found him to be a really interesting, thoughtful guy. Here are some quotes that didn't make it into the story:

On the changing role of second basemen in MLB:

(Jason) Kipnis just got a huge deal. I think baseball is changing. Middle-of-the-diamond guys, not only are they good hitters, but they have good power numbers. They get on base. I think middle-of-the-diamond guys are changing the game. You don’t see many just contact hitters, you see some thump. Cano, Kipnis, Pedroia, some big all-star faces. Utley. It’s always fun seeing how they play and everyone’s style is a little different. Hopefully I can make my own mold at second base, and I’m excited going forward to see how it all shakes out.

On growing up in southern California and not being a Dodgers fan:

Growing up I liked the Phillies. My parents are from Philly, so when Utley and Howard first got there things were pretty exciting. I was a little bit of a Yankees fan because of Jeter and watched the Angels a little bit. I’ve just always been a baseball fan, so when its on TV I watch it.

On taking infield advice from Tony Franklin:

He’s very honest and very thorough in his explanations. I’ve worked with him a little bit, but he really let Carlos Mendoza and Luis Sojo (coach) last year, and Tony has been more just little tips on position and things like that. He always jokes that it’s a lot different than when he played. Last night there were a couple of routine balls hit to my left, and I was in good position because what the Yankees are trying to do as a whole. There is a whole adjustment period for the organization, so hopefully we have a lot of success moving forward.

Also, here he is taking some BP:

GAME 2: Thunder (0-1) vs. New Hampshire (1-0)

On the lineup: Only on small change in the Thunder's Game 2 lineup, with Francisco Arcia playing first base instead of Dan Fiorito. Arcia is listed as a catcher, but Tony Franklin said yesterday that he was comfortable with Arcia playing first.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

GAME 1: New Hampshire 6, Thunder 0

To put things gently, the Thunder's EL title defense didn't exactly open on the right foot Thursday night at Arm & Hammer. After being presented with a nice trophy, New Hampshire's Aaron Sanchez did just about everything you'd want your No.1 prospect to do on opening night if you were a Blue Jays fan. Here he is recording one of his 5 Ks against Rob Refsnyder, who went 0-for-4 in his Double-A debut (I am aware the video is not fantastic...working on an upgrade):

Sanchez's final line was 5IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 5K. On the gun, he touched 98 and sat around 96. Perhaps the best news of the night was that the one hit belonged to none other than Mason Williams, who poked this little single into left:

For the Thunder, Bryan Mitchell didn't leave with a great line (4IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 4K, 2BB), but  almost all of the damage against him was done in a tough second inning. After the game, he said that he really had his cutter going in the 1st inning, but then got too "fastball heavy" in the second and that's what caused some problems. He did recover to post scoreless frames in the 3rd and 4th. Here he is striking out Ryan Schrimpf:

Before the game, I also wrote about Cole Kimball who gave up a run on 2 hits in the 9th.

GAME 1: New Hampshire Fisher Cats

On the mound: RHP Bryan Mitchell vs. RHP Aaron Sanchez

CF Mason Williams
2B Rob Refsnyder
3B Rob Segedin
C Gary Sanchez
LF Ben Gamel
DH Ben Gamel
DH Zach Wilson
RF Taylor Dugas
1B Dan Fiorito
SS Ali Castillo

New Hampshire
CF Kenny Wilson
C A.J. Jiminez
3B Andy Burns
RF Brad Glenn
1B Gabe Jacobo
DH Ryan Schimpf
SS Kevin Nolan
LF Michael Crouse
2B Jon Berti

Before the Game: The word on the street is that the Thunder will be presented the 2013 Eastern League Championship trophy by league president Joseph McEacharn after the national anthem, and then their new bat dog Rookie will be introduced to the crowd.

Early Move: cond baseman Dan Fiorito, who played three games with the Thunder last season, is back with the club. Carmen Angelini has been sent to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Media Day

While opening day is Thursday night, the Thunder made their first appearance at Arm & Hammer Park Tuesday for media day (you can find my full story here). The event, unfortunately, did not feature top prospect Gary Sanchez - who will be behind the dish this year - because Sanchez had a preplanned late departure from Tampa. The Thunder's other big-name prospect, Mason Williams, was there, and shared this interesting tidbit about Carlos Beltran, who had an adjacent locker in Tampa:

Here is Williams taking a little BP. He makes nice contact towards the end.

As far as newsworthy info, the two biggest takeaways were that manager Tony Franklin revealed both the starting rotation and the top of the lineup. The rotation (in order) will be Bryan Mitchell (read about him here), Jeremy Bleich, Zach Nuding, Joel De la Cruz and Matt Tracy. Williams will lead off, with Rob Refsnyder in the two hole, Rob Segedin third and Sanchez cleaning up.

Here is a little bit of Franklin:

Also of note: the Thunder have sweet new BP jerseys with light blue sleeves. I am told that the game jerseys will be the same pinstripes as last year, but count me among those who think an change in this direction would be wise. Here is Rob Segedin sporting the new threads:

Trentonian Photo/GREGG SLABODA

Our latest Trentonian addition, Ed Morlock, also put together a piece on new hitting coach Marcus Thames.