Baseball America is reporting that catcher Jason Brown has re-signed with the Yankees. Additionally, pitchers Scott Strickland, Billy Traber, Heath Phillips and second baseman Nick Green have joined the organization as well, but the only move that would appear to have a potential impact on the Thunder roster would be the Brown signing.
The 11-year minor league veteran came to the Thunder in 2005 with two championship rings (’99 San Bernardino and ’01 Brevard County) to his name, and completed his Lord of the Rings style trilogy as a member of the first championship team in franchise history last season.
Brown is a leader in the clubhouse, and provides a veteran influence to not only the pitching staff, but also the catchers he’s mentored while with the Thunder, namely P.J. Pilittere and Omir Santos.
In 2006, everyone’s favorite pitching prospect at the time, Phil Hughes, had this to say about Brown.
“He calls a great game,” Hughes said.
“It always seems like we’re on the same page. He’s got a lot of experience in this game, and he knows a lot of the veteran hitters and knows what he wants to do out there. It’s always good when I get to throw to him.”
Brown will likely receive a Spring Training invite, just as he has the past few seasons as a member of the Yankees organization.
“The goal isn’t to see how long you can play in the minor leagues, the goal for me is to get to the big leagues,” Brown once told me.
The 33-year-old has never played in the Majors, and in all honesty is unlikely to ever achieve that goal. He has just 29 hits in his last 145 at-bats (.200) in a Thunder uniform over the past two seasons, and spent much of last season on the disabled list.
Brown could theoretically be the backup in Scranton, but the much more likely scenario is for him to backup either Francisco Cervelli or Pilittere in Trenton or possibly be the third catcher if both are on the roster.
I will say that if making the big leagues was based on how good of a guy you are, Brown would have never spent a day in the minor leagues. One of the nicest people I’ve met in my six seasons of covering the game.
Also noteworthy to Thunder fans is that Matt DeSalvo has signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves.
He spent part of 2004, all of 2005 and the second half of 2006 with the Thunder, with his best season easily being the middle one. He went 9-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 25 appearances for Trenton, and his 151 strikeouts were good for third best in the Eastern League that season.
He put up similar numbers for the Scranton Yankees this year, and earned a few starts with the big league club as a result.
I’ll have a little more on DeSalvo as the countdown of Top 20 Trenton Thunder Moments continues to count down throughout the off-season.
The popular Andy Phillips, yet another Thunder alum, has signed a deal with the Cincinnati Reds.
Phillips suited up for the Thunder in just 10 games in 2004, which was before when I started covering the team on a regular basis. Head on over to Chad Jennings’ Scranton Yankees blog, where he was a better breakdown of the move.
Additionally, shortstop Caonabo Cosme, who played on the 2004 and 2006 incarnations of the Thunder, has inked a deal with the Detroit Tigers. The Cosme Show was somewhat of an error machine early in his career, has pretty average tools and really wasn’t that impressive during his most recent stay in 2006. He was most recently in Triple-A with Cincinnati last season.
It’s very possible he could make a return to Waterfront Park when the Erie Seawolves come into town on June 23rd.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com