Five Thunder Alums Among Those Added To Yankees 40-Man Roster

Chad Jennings reports that the New York Yankees have added RHP Hector Noesi, RHP Ivan Nova, RHP Romulo Sanchez, INF Reegie Corona, INF Eduardo Nunez, INF Kevin Russo and OF Austin Jackson to their 40-man roster.

In addition, the team has reinstated Chien-Ming Wang from the 60-day DL and outrighted Shelley Duncan to Scranton.  Jennings reports that Duncan will refuse the assignment if he clears waivers and elect free agency.

As for the 40-man roster moves, five of the seven players added have Trenton Thunder ties.  The only two who haven’t are Hector Noesi –who struck out 118 batters and walked just 15 between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa in 117 innings of work — and Romulo Sanchez, who was acquired in exchange for Eric Hacker last year and flirted with the 100 MPH on the radar gun in Scranton last year.

Interestingly, two of the players protected this time around were selected in the Rule 5 draft last year by other teams; Nova and Corona.

Both players started their 2009 seasons with the Thunder after being returned by the teams that selected them; Nova from the Padres and Corona from the Mariners.  Nova started the season at the back end of the Thunder’s rotation and was 5-4 with a 2.36 ERA before being summoned to Scranton at the end of June.  While he showed flashes up there, the numbers ultimately weren’t that good — A 1-4 record and a 5.10 ERA.

Corona’s statistics seem to mirror Nova’s to an extent.  His Thunder numbers are solid (.287/3/26) but his Scranton numbers tell a different story (.200/3/14).  He did showed marked improvement in power, although it didn’t translate to his statistics, especially to the right side.  If he realistically wants to make the big leagues, he’s going to have continue to develop some pop.

Nunez displayed a premium bat and suspect defense with the Thunder last year, which is par for the course with his career.  28 errors in 72 games in 2005, 40 errors in 115 games in 2006, 33 errors in 120 games in 2007, 19 errors in 92 games in 2008 and now 33 errors in 120 games last year in Trenton.  That’s 153 errors over his last 519 games in the field…or around one every three and a half games.  Bad.  Thing is, Nunez has an excellent arm, but it seems that his footwork or lack of concentration get in the way of it at times.  A career .266 hitter, Nunez hit a career high nine home runs last year and seems to be developing nicely at the plate.  But if he can’t improve in the field, pinstripes are not at all a foregone conclusion.  And I don’t want to hear the Jeter comparisons.  Just don’t.

Russo, whether you want to believe it or not, is a legitimate prospect.  Hurried through the system, likely the result of his age, he’s handled every move well.  After starring at Trenton in 2008 after overcoming a facial injury that took place during a freak bounce during infield practice and a health scare that involved platelet counts in his blood, Russo moved to Scranton and got even better, hitting a dazzling .326 over the course of a full season.

Jackson is a surefire big leaguer.  Whether it’s April 1st or September 1st or sometime inbetween, nobody who has seen him play will tell you they don’t expect Jackson to crack the big leagues.  In fact, a lot of people thought he could have been there last season, but the Yankees were actually smart in terms of his development and gave him a full season at Triple-A Scranton instead.  Both in the 2007 Eastern League Playoffs and the entire 2008 season, Jackson dazzled in a Thunder uniform, and has the potential to be one of the most successful alumni in franchise history.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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