Archive for June, 2009

Montero Goes Deep Twice In Another Thunder Loss

June 30, 2009

(PR) (Erie, PA)- Erie scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to come-from-behind and defeat Trenton 5-3 on Tuesday night from Jerry Uht Park in Erie, PA. Erie snapped a seven-game losing streak with the win. The loss extended Trenton’s losing streak to four games.

Down 3-0, Erie (41-36) chipped away at the lead starting in the fifth inning. The Sea Wolves scored their first run of the night on a solo home run in the fifth inning off the bat of Third baseman Ron Borquin. Erie scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead. After a lead-off single by First baseman Ryan Strieby, Center fielder Casper Wells doubled to move Strieby to third base. Catcher Alex Avila followed with a two-run double to tie the game at 3-3. With one out in the frame, Designated Hitter Andy Dirks connected on an RBI single to put the Sea Wolves on top 4-3. Later in the inning, Second baseman Danny Worth capped off the scoring with an RBI single. Borquin and Worth each had two hits in the win for the Sea Wolves.

Trenton (38-38) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a solo home run by Catcher Jesus Montero off of Erie Starting Pitcher Pat Stanley. The Thunder extended the lead to 3-0 in the fourth inning with a two-run home run by Montero. He now has three home runs on the season. Stanley (2-2) tossed six innings to pick up the win. He scattered six hits and allowed three runs. Trenton Starting Pitcher Jeremy Bleich (0-1) yielded seven hits and five runs in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss in his Double-A debut. He only gave up two hits in the first five innings, but five hits in the sixth. Trenton only had the lead-off man on during one inning, and had only one hit after the fifth inning. Thunder Outfielder Jack Rye had two walks in his Thunder debut.

Kontos Likely To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

June 30, 2009

kontosUggh.  Awful news for George Kontos.  Looks like he’ll need to have Tommy John Surgery performed on his pitching elbow, according to Chad Jennings.

Kontos spent all of last year in Trenton, going 6-11 with a 3.68 ERA in 27 starts.  His 152 strikeouts were good for third best in the Eastern League.

This year, the 24-year-old righty started the year with the Thunder, making four starts before being called up to Triple-A Scranton.

Kontos, who was 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in those four starts, was really putting things together in Scranton.

He was 3-4 with a 3.35 ERA in nine starts at the next level, and was probably one of the first options in terms of guys who could get called up by the Yankees if they needed a starter.

Now, Kontos is out for at least a year, and who knows what he’ll be like when he does come back.  And that’s if he comes back. 

Rough news for a good guy.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Bleich Set To Debut Tonight

June 30, 2009

The 44th overall pick in the 2008 draft, Jeremy Bleich is set to make his Double-A debut tonight in Erie, Pennsylvania for the Trenton Thunder.

Trentonian colleague Josh Norris and myself caught up with Bleich outside of the Thunder clubhouse recently, and here’s how the brief Q&A went.

You must be pretty excited to get the call-up to Double-A…

Bleich: “Yeah, it’s definitely an opportunity.  We’ve got a good organization, so it’s definitely a good opportunity.”

Are you surprised you moved so fast?

Bleich: “I don’t know.  I’ve been learning a lot down in High-A in Tampa.  Greg Pavlik down there is a real good pitching coach, and all the coaches down there are real solid. I just tried to learn from my bad outings, learn from my good outings.  I wouldn’t call it a surprise, I just think that I got my work in and learned from the things I needed to learn from.”

Can you give us a little scouting report on what you throw?

Bleich: “Left-hander.  High 80’s, low 90’s fastball.  I also throw a changeup and a curveball.”

Which pitch needs the most work and which has been your best?

Bleich: “I think I need to improve on all of them.  At times, they all show to be pretty good pitches, but I think the name of the game is consistency.  I just need to be more consistent with my pitches and location, just fine-tune everything.”

How were things going for you down in Tampa?

Bleich: “Things were going well.  I started out all right and then struggled a little bit, I had a couple bad outings.  Then I got on a roll for a little bit, but then fell back off for a couple and things didn’t go my way a little bit.  I’d made some bad pitches.  And then I got on a roll again, but each of those times I got on a roll, I kind of tried to learn from what had bitten me in the past.  So I’m happy with the way it went and I just try to get better every day.”

So how big of an adjustment do you think it’s going to be from there to here?

Bleich: “The quality of play, I’m sure, is much higher.  I’m sure it’s a big step.  But at the same time, I just have to kind of focus on what I do and try to pitch the same and do my thing.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Pitching Matchups @ Erie (Fixed)

June 30, 2009

6/30: TRE Jeremy Bleich (Debut) vs. ERIE Pat Stanley (1-2, 4.91)
7/1: TRE Zach McAllister (5-3, 1.76) vs. ERIE Jon Kibler (3-5, 3.90)
7/2: TRE Jason Johnson (0-1, 10.80) vs. ERIE Jonah Nickerson (4-6, 5.08)
7/3: TRE Wilkin de la Rosa (On DL) vs. ERIE TBA

Assuming none of these games get rained out, which doesn’t seem like a safe assumption at all at this point, Wilkin de la Rosa is scheduled to be activated to pitch on the 3rd.  That would have Ryan Pope pitching on July 4th, and Jeremy Bleich making his home debut on the 5th. 

Unless you need to start rounding up two of every animal, Bleich will pitch at home, as the club remains at Waterfront Park through the 9th.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Yankees Send Two More Minor Leaguers To Pittsburgh

June 30, 2009

Looks like the Yankees have acquired Eric Hinske from their Quadruple-A affiliate, the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Casey Erickson and Eric Fryer are your minor leaguers involved, so it doesn’t affect the Thunder in any way.

(Yankees PR) The New York Yankees today acquired infielder/outfielder Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates along with cash considerations in exchange for minor leaguer right-handed pitcher Casey Erickson and minor league outfielder Eric Fryer.

Hinske, 31, appeared in 54 games with the Pirates this season, batting .255 (27-for-106) with 18 runs, 9 doubles, 1 home run and 11RBI. He has played 13 games in right field, six games at first base and three games at third base, and has made 29 pinch-hit appearances, going 8-for-24 (.333) with 5 walks. Hinske was the Opening Day right fielder for the 2008 American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, batting .247 (94-for-381) with 21 doubles, 20 home runs and 60 RBI, making 47 starts in right field, 37 in left field, nine at first base and four at third base. He was also a member of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox in 2007.

Hinske was originally selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 17th round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft and made his Major League debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2002, winning the American League “Rookie of the Year” award that season. The left-handed batter has compiled 196 doubles, 106 home runs and 410 RBI in 957 career Major League games with the Blue Jays (2002-06), Red Sox (2006-07), Rays (2008) and Pirates (2009).

Hinske will join the team in New York today. The Yankees will make a reciprocal roster move prior to tonight’s 7:05 p.m. game vs. Seattle.

Erickson, 23, was 3-3 with a 2.25 ERA (44.0IP, 11ER) in 21 games (three starts) with Single-A Charleston in 2009. He combined to go 6-1 with a 2.95 ERA in 19 appearances (15 starts) with Charleston and short-season Single-A Staten Island in 2008, leading the Staten Island staff in innings pitched (75.0) and strikeouts (77). He was selected by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Springfield College.

Fryer, 23, appeared in 59 games with the Single-A Tampa Yankees this season, batting .250 (56-for-224) with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs and 24 RBI. He also collected a team-high 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts. Fryer was acquired by the Yankees on February 4, 2009, from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for left-handed pitcher Chase Wright. He was originally selected by the Brewers in the 10th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Ohio State University.

Game 75: Post-Mortem Notes (Robnett To Scranton)

June 29, 2009

– This team is not very good.

– Before the game, Tony Franklin had a piece of paper on his desk informing him of a fine from the Eastern League due to a previous ejection.  With his team down 6-0 today in the second inning, he decided to throw them another few dollars, getting tossed again after arguing with the home plate umpire on a botched bunt call.

While most of the damage had already been done, at least Franklin didn’t have to stick around to watch the last seven innings of a simply miserable baseball game.

“The fact of the matter is, for some reason or another, our brains aren’t turned on and our bodies aren’t functioning as well as they should,” Franklin said.

“They may think that they’re preparing well, they may think that they’re ready to go, but in essence, their performance says differently.  I’m pretty disappointed about it.  At some point, it’s going to have to hit home.  I continue to go in there and tell them.”

Franklin saw all he needed to see from Ryan Pope to know that he wasn’t at his best today…

In lieu of typing that stuff out, here’s some audio from inside the manager’s office.  Click here to download and listen to a lengthy part of the post-game chat.

– Pope’s outing was probably the worst by any Thunder pitcher this season.  The line tells the tale: 5 IP+, 13 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HBP.

But, give him credit for two things. 

One, with a depleted bullpen and clearly not his best stuff, he stayed out there and wore it for as long he could.

And two, he was man enough to face the media after the game.  I don’t think anyone would have batted an eye if he didn’t want to talk or had made himself scarce.

“I’m going to go back out there and compete and put this day behind me,” Pope said.

“That’s the best thing I can do, I can’t dwell on today.  You have your good days and bad days, and today was probably the worst day at the field of my life.  But tomorrow, I’ve just got to come back and work harder.  There’s nothing I can do about it now, it’s over.”

After a few so-so starts now — and this one was clearly worse than just so-so — I’ve asked Pope about that gap in the middle of May, where he was skipped in the rotation after making his best Double-A start against Portland.  And every time, he’s refused to use that as an excuse.

“I felt like everything was clicking at that point in time,” Pope said.

“But I’ve had enough time inbetween to get (stuff) straight, and I just haven’t done it.  It’s inexcusable.”

– As we waited outside the clubhouse for Tommy Phelps to get done with a loud, yet succinct meeting with his pitchers in the weight room and Tony Franklin to finish up a similar “chat” after Phelps was done, a bag of bats was sitting across from the door.

Look at the box score, and it seems pretty clear that Chris Malec was the only one who actually picked his up before the game.

Malec finished a triple short of the cycle, collecting four of the Thunder’s five hits and driving in both of their runs.

He wouldn’t admit it, but he seemed to be the only one on the team who showed up today.

“I would never say anybody didn’t show up,” Malec said.

“I went 1-for-4 with four terrible at-bats last night, and I felt like I showed up and gave everything I’ve got.  I’d say everybody gave everything they had today.  But sometimes it’s tough, and you overtry.  Maybe in the back of our minds, it’s hey we don’t play well in day games and we put pressure on ourselves, especially at the plate.”

It’s true, the Thunder are 8-13 in day games (stat via John Nalbone), but it’s apparently not a topic of conversation amongst the players.

“We never talk about it,” Malec said.

“Tony talks about and makes sure we’re ready to play when that clock strikes 12 o’clock today or whatever time.  It’s just something where we’ve got to get ready to go.  We talk about it a little bit with our teammates, but in the end it’s our careers and each and every at-bat counts.  Whether it’s a day game or a night game, those bats have got to show up.”

– Noah Hall (back) was placed on the disabled list just before game time, and Jack Rye was added from Tampa.  Additionally, Richie Robnett was called up to Triple-A Scranton after the game, clearing a spot for Jeremy Bleich to be activated for his start tomorrow.

“You’ve always got to expect the unexpected,” said Robnett of his call-up.

“I guess the situation is that a few guys went down up there, and they need an extra guy.  I don’t think it’s based on performance or anything like that, it’s just they have a need right now.”

The former first round pick was 0-for-3 with a walk today — oddly, Rye was coaching first base after the ejection of Tony Franklin and not playing in left field so that Robnett could get a head start on his way to Scranton — which dropped his average to a still impressive .348.  Still, with his Oakland A’s equipment back over one shoulder and some personal luggage on the other, he downplayed the quick move to Triple-A.

“I’m a guy they just picked up, so I kind of know my role as far as wherever I’ve got to go at whatever time, that’s where they need me to be,” he said.

“I’m not one of the everyday guys.  I’ve got to just take what I get, and if they need me up there, I’ll go up there.  If they need me down in Tampa, I’ll go there.  I think that’s pretty much my role that I’m playing right now.”

Robnett certainly has the credentials to be more than just filler for the organization, so I asked him whether it’s become difficult not to press to try to expand his role.

“It is, but it’s whenever you get your opportunity, you’ve got to try to make the best of it,” he told me.

“That’s what I’ve learned over this year, actually.  Don’t take anything for granted.  Stay relaxed.  If you’re not playing, OK.  Try to learn something in the game, watch the game, see if you can pick up something.  And when you get your opportunity, try to make the best of it.  That’s pretty much all you can do.”

– A roster move would still need to be made to accomodate Wilkin de la Rosa, who is listed as pitching on Friday on the rotation listed in the clubhouse.  With Jason Johnson pitching on Thursday, he’s likely to be the move…one way or the other.

– It’s interesting…with one throw home, Austin Krum displayed a stronger arm than Seth Fortenberry — who supposedly had the best outfield arm in the organization — ever did.  And with one errant toss to third base that couldn’t have been corraled by Gheorghe “Cabbage, Gheorghe?  Chicks dig it.” Muresan while he was standing on top of Manute Bol, it made you wonder what Fortenberry was up to down in Tampa.

– Every Reading starter had at least one hit except for ex-Thunder backstop Kevin Nelson.  And he settled for a measly three RBI instead.

– While the Yankees held out Zach McAllister — instead deciding to burn the bullpen yet again yesterday as a result — the Phillies seemed to have no issue with Joe Savery coming back out on short rest.  Seems he handled it just fine, allowing just two hits over six innings of work to improve to 10-1.  Seems to me that’s a classic case of two organizations handling the exact same situation differently.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Moves A Plenty In Scranton

June 29, 2009

Do I even need to tell you where to go to read about what’s going on in Scranton at this point?  I’ll give you a hint…his name rhymes with Schmad Schmennings.

That would certainly be an interesting pen name…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 75: Reading @ Trenton

June 29, 2009

Game 75 – Reading Phillies @ Trenton Thunder
June 29, 2009
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: REA Joe Savery vs. TRE Ryan Pope

Starting Lineups:

PHILLIES

Gus Milner, CF
Ozzie Chavez, SS
Michael Taylor, RF
Brian Stavisky, 1B
Neil Sellers, 3B
Jeremy Slayden, DH
Kevin Mahar, LF
Brad Harman, 2B
Kevin Nelson, C

THUNDER

Austin Krum, CF
Richie Robnett, LF
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Jorge Vazquez, DH
Chris Malec, 1B
Edwar Gonzalez, RF
Kyle Anson, C
Marcos Vechionacci, 3B
Justin Snyder, 2B

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): Ah yes, the in-game transaction. Sure makes me feel good about getting here early. OF Noah Hall has been placed on the DL, and…Jeremy Bleich has been activated? Nope. Instead, they’ve received OF Jack Rye from Tampa. Rye was hitting .250 in 36 games in High-A. He had a homer and 11 RBI. No clue if he’s here.

Meanwhile, Ryan Pope’s got bases full of Phillies…1-0 already, in T1.

7-0, Phillies, in the top of the 3rd. 1 out. Pope getting drilled, defense playing awful, Tony Franklin’s already been tossed. Lovely game. Marcos Vechionacci made a terrible throw home in the 2nd, which got compounded by Austin Krum throwing another ball into Reading’s dugout from center field.

Ryan Pope just absolutely wore it today. 10 runs, 13 hits in 5 plus innings. Reading kicked the field goal and is now up, 10-0. T6. Kanekoa Texeira now in.

Pope’s final line: 5 ip, 13 h, 11 r, 10 er, 3 bb, 1 k, 2 hbp. Wowzers.

Chris Malec has three hits for the Thunder. Everyone else has zero. 12-0, B8.

Eric Wordekemper being used in another meaningful spot…down 12 in the 9th. Good use of one of your better relievers.

The 18 hits allowed by the Thunder are a season high…also ties a season high for Reading.

Nice of Chris Malec to be the only member of the team to show up today. He’s gone 4-for-4, and put the Thunder on the board with a long home run to right in the 9th…here comes the comeback!!!!!!!!! Ha. 12-2, Phillies.

In-Game Photos:

pope

Ryan Pope

pope2

Pope

robnett

Richie Robnett

savery

Joe Savery

taylor

Michael Taylor

In-Game YouTube Videos: Check out my YouTube account for videos updated throughout the game…

Final Score: 12-2, Phillies

Thunder Thoughts: You know what I like while I’m working? The mascot coming in here and causing a stir. Makes for good conditions. I bet the Reading radio guy loves the banging on the glass, too. The air horn in here the other night was obnoxious. Can’t bring the mascot(s) in the press box again. Just can’t. Working environment. Not cool.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 75: Pre-Game Notes

June 29, 2009

10:45 AM — Wilkin de la Rosa is listed on the clubhouse rotation as pitching on July 3rd.  He isn’t activated yet, so that’s another move they need to make…as for the move they’ll make to get Jeremy Bleich on the roster, it seems Noah Hall may get placed on the DL with that back discomfort.

9:40 AM — Ummm…outside of Jose Valdez and Wilkins Arias running stadium steps, not too much to write about here.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 74: Post-Game Notes

June 29, 2009

– Positives from this game?  Well, most of the pictures I took were in focus, so it had that going for it.  But really, outside of Jesus Montero’s first Double-A home run, there wasn’t much good that came out of tonight.

So let’s focus on that for a second, shall we?

“It was crushed,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.

Saying it was crushed would be an understatement.  Montero’s blast was hit to dead center, where the wall stands 407 feet away.  It hit more than halfway up the batters eye…and that part of the wall has got to be 30-40 feet tall.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of that from Montero in the future,” Franklin said. 

“He’s a very young kid and he’s got less than a month’s time at this level.  As times goes by, you’re going to see more of that same type of hitting from Montero.”

– Montero was, as you’d expect from someone who’d just hit the ball into the next county, rather happy to talk about his first Double-A home run.

“It feels great,” Montero said.

“I was just trying to hit the ball hard, you know.”

Montero’s blast earned him the silent treatment from teammates, who stayed at their respective spots in the dugout and on the front railing as he entered before eventually all gathering around him and congratulating him.

“Everybody was saying, ‘Don’t say anything to Montero’ in the dugout,” he joked.

– And now the bad.  Outside of a Reegie Corona home run, Montero’s blast, and an RBI single from Marcos Vechionacci off of Carlos Leon’s grill, not too much went right otherwise.

“Their kid pitched a pretty good game against us, he did a pretty good job,” said Franklin of Reading’s starter, Mike Stutes.

“He’s one of those types of pitchers that, at the end of the night, you ask yourself how you went 0-for-4 against this guy.  But when you look back at it, the guy didn’t throw very many pitches above the belt, he had a very good breaking ball this evening and he was able to throw that for a strike.”

– The game was essentially broken open in the 6th inning, when Reading’s Michael Taylor hit a mammoth three-run shot off of Jose Valdez over everything in left field.  The Thunder’s deficit jumped from one run to four.

“We were in the game for a while there, and that pitch to Taylor kind of hurt us,” Franklin said.

“Valdez is usually pretty good, but he just left a pitch up in the zone, and it hurt us.”

– Noah Hall was apparently removed from the game as a result of some sort of back issue.  Franklin said it didn’t seem to be anything severe.

– Spoke to Jeremy Bleich after the game for something you’ll probably see tomorrow.  He confirmed that he is scheduled to pitch Tuesday.

“He’s a good pitcher,” said Montero about Bleich.

“He’s got a curveball, changeup and fastball.  He’s got great command, throws a lot of strikes.  Let’s see what we can do together.”

Bleich has not been officially activated, and a move would need to be made to do so.  The obvious move would have been to promote Jason Johnson to Scranton, but with Johnson now starting for the Thunder on Thursday, that’s no longer an option.

Bleich will wear #22.

– It’s amazing what you can learn during a short elevator trip.  My company on the way down to the clubhouse was $2.92 million dollars were Kyle Drabek and Joe Savery.  Turns out, Savery’s starting tomorrow…which would be three days after he “started” on Friday.  That, of course, would be the night of the rainout that so aggrevated Savery that he fired a ball into the stands.

Meanwhile, Trenton’s starter in that game, Zach McAllister, isn’t set to pitch again until Wednesday.

– Also, just to touch on reports of J.B. Cox having retired…it is definitely a fact that he left the team to go home.  I’m not sure of what the timeline was regarding his being placed on the disabled list is…did he decide to leave after being placed on the phantom DL?  Did he leave and was that why he was placed on the phantom DL?  Don’t know that yet.

But I can’t definitively tell you that he’s retired.  I had heard that he needed to take some time to figure some things out, but that’s honestly the last I’d heard.  Obviously, I’ll pass along any updates.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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