#38, C, Jose Gil
It appears Gil will be treated like a real player this season, after being utilized as a third catcher for the Thunder during most of his stay in Trenton last season. He memorably hit a walk-off home run at one point last year, but I challenge you to recall anything else he did. Gil will likely see action once a week, twice tops…but he is capable of putting together a decent season inspite of that.
#12, C, Austin Romine
Romine is the player that people will come to see in Trenton this season. The second best prospect in the organization according to Baseball America, the 21-year-old backstop has, just like Jesus Montero, stated how much he wants to catch. Unlike Montero, however, there’s no one doubting that he can actually do it. One of the more anticipated prospects to start a season in Trenton during the Yankees affiliation agreement with the Thunder, how he performs could go a long way towards determining the Thunder’s success this season.
#24, INF, David Adams
A third rounder in 2008, Adams is already in Double-A thanks to hitting at every level he’s been at since making his pro debut with Staten Island after he signed. This will be a big season in regards to Adams development, and he’ll likely be the everyday second baseman. The only question seems to be where he’ll hit in the lineup. There does not seem to be much question that he’ll hit, period…
#26, INF, Neall French
As of now, French remains on the roster, but there’s been a lot of speculation that he’ll be one of the two players who don’t start the season in Trenton. A first baseman, French was somewhat surprisingly on the Thunder roster after spending all of last season in Low-A Charleston, a season where he hit just .238 with two home runs and 22 RBI. If French does remain, it’s unlikely he’ll see much playing time to start out with.
#15, INF, Brandon Laird
Laird put his name in the headlines for all the wrong reasons this off-season, when he and his big league brother, Gerald, got into an unfortunate off-field incident. Laird would rather you judge him based on what he does on the field, and those judgment’s should all be positive if he can replicate what he’s done throughout his career. Trenton’s everyday third baseman, Laird brings legitimate power to the lineup and is most likely to hit somewhere between the the three through five holes.
#21, INF, Luis Nunez
Nunez spent a small part of last season in Triple-A Scranton last season, but it was similar to how Walter Ibarra joined the Thunder in 2008 from a lower level…this year, Nunez begins the season in Double-A Trenton, where he’ll likely spend his entire 2010 campaign. After a strong season in Tampa last year (.304/3/23), Nunez has put his name on the map and could be one of the surprises on the roster this year.
#23, INF, Kevin Smith
Smith spent the first half of 2009 in Trenton, but was somewhat surprisingly sent down to Tampa despite hitting .247 at the time. He went on to hit .317 in High-A, and that’s the kind of season he’ll need to have in Trenton to continue progressing through the system. He’ll see a good amount of time at first base this season.
#10, INF, Justin Snyder
Who knows that the season holds for Justin Snyder, who is looking to rebound from a brutal 2009. He hit just .195 in a full season with the Thunder and played a variety of positions. Many suggested he wasn’t ready for Double-A after skipping High-A Tampa, and while that may be true, he’s looking to put last year behind him and show why he was skipped a level in the first place.
#53, INF, Marcos Vechionacci
Vechionacci’s return was somewhat surprising, but he’s still just 23 years old and was once one of the organization’s brightest prospects. After an abysmal 2009 in which he hit just .213, Nacci will now be fighting for playing time now that Brandon Laird has taken over at the hot corner.
#8, OF, Daniel Brewer
A speedy outfielder who hit .323 in Charleston and .290 in Tampa last season, Brewer makes his Double-A debut as a 22-year-old looking to make a strong impression on the organization. With just four outfielders on the team, he should get an opportunity to show what he can do quite often.
#25, OF, Edwar Gonzalez
Gonzalez is widely regarded as the biggest disappointment of 2009, hitting just .232 with four home runs and 37 RBI after putting together a stellar 2008 campaign. A minor league free agent for the second season in a row, Gonzo again re-signed with the Yankees, and is one of many returning players who needs to put last season behind them. The friendly Venezuelan was hampered by injuries for much of last season, however, and appears healthy heading into this year.
#9, OF, Austin Krum
Krum had an up and down 2009 season, showcasing strong defense at times, but also putting together an inconsistent year at the plate. He hit just .234 during his stay with Trenton last year, but should get a full season this year to try to improve on those statistics.
#27, OF, Damon Sublett
A natural second baseman, Sublett was moved to the outfield and spent all of last season in High-A Tampa, hitting .270 with four home runs and 41 RBI. Once one of the bigger prospects in the Yankees organization, Sublett’s stock has dropped a bit, but he can put himself back on the map with a strong 2010.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com