Archive for April 2nd, 2012

Some Notes. Yes, Already

April 2, 2012

– Greetings, loyal Thunder Thoughts reader! Welcome back for the 2012 season. I’m looking forward to covering as many games as I can at Waterfront Park this year, although there will inevitably be a handful of conflicts with covering/going to NHL Playoff games and having zero interest in getting up at six in the morning for those awful, awful day games and other commitments. In all seriousness, I’ve already agreed to write for The Trentonian for the April 11 game at 10:35 AM. So you’ll even see me at some day games this year as well.

– Getting down to business, I already posted the Thunder Opening Day roster, as you saw. Well, sort of. It’ll need to get trimmed down by two players before Thursday to get to the (new) limit of 25 active players. Some combination of a pitcher, infielder and catcher will likely come down with an awful case of “too many guys-a-citis” before the first pitch is thrown. I personally think you’ll definitely see a catcher go on the DL since Addison Maruszak is again on the roster and can be a third catcher if needed, and probably a pitcher as well.

– The New Hampshire Fisher Cats come into town Thursday night, and are a pretty good representation of a farm system that Baseball America ranks ahead of the Yankees. Kevin Gray of The New Hampshire Union Leader writes that Drew Hutchison will be the Opening Day starter, and he could be worth the price of admission alone. He’s coming off a very successful 2011 season that saw him pitch at three different levels, and he might not be long for New Hampshire. Hutchison is ranked as the 9th best Blue Jays prospect by BA, and Deck McGuire, who is slated one spot ahead of him, will likely pitch Saturday. Chad Jenkins, yet another top 30 guy, goes Friday.

For those of you who remember the Fernando Hernandez era in Trenton, you’ll be happy to know that he’ll be returning to Waterfront Park with New Hampshire on Thursday. Kevin Howard, who last played for Trenton in 2006, also comes back…although he helped beat them as recently as last year.

– Tomorrow is media day. Every player — well, almost everyone…according to Josh Norris, Abe Almonte won’t be there because of some sort of “one Almonte per media day” rule in Trenton…all right, that really isn’t why — will be subject to my silly questions. Tell me who you want to hear from. Tell me what you want to know.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com // Twitter: mashmore98

2012 Thunder Opening Day Roster Unveiled (UPDATED)

April 2, 2012

The official 2012 Trenton Thunder Opening Day roster has finally been released…to view the official document, click here.

But to save yourself some time…

Pitchers

Cory Arbiso, Preston Claiborne, Ryan Flannery, Shaeffer Hall, Craig Heyer, Lee Hyde, Brett Marshall, Kelvin Perez, Ryan Pope, Josh Romanski, Graham Stoneburner, Chase Whitley

THUNDER THOUGHTS: The rotation will be Hall, Stoneburner, Marshall, Romanski and most likely Heyer.  A far cry from having studs like Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos in there, but a solid group none the less.  For me, the name to watch in this group is Marshall, who is coming off a very solid season in High-A Tampa and is the biggest prospect the Thunder will have on their roster, at least to start the year. 

Lee Hyde was the name that stood out immediately in the bullpen, mainly because his name wasn’t familiar to me at all.  Turns out he was in the Nationals system last year and was in Triple-A all season.  The only lefty in the bullpen, he’ll be a little more important than you may think.  The closer candidates, in my mind, are Flannery, Pope and Whitley.  Flannery, who struggled in a brief call-up to Trenton last season, had 19 saves last season with Tampa.  Pope is back for a fourth season in Trenton, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him in a role that would get him back to Triple-A the quickest.  And Whitley closed in Staten Island two years ago and probably has the stuff best suited for that role.

Catchers

Mitch Abeita, Jeff Farnham, Jose Gil

THUNDER THOUGHTS: Yikes.  For all the catching depth the Yankees organization truly has, you sure aren’t seeing it here.  But you know what, it wouldn’t shock me if Gil put together a really nice year.  He had stretches last season where he was truly impressive, but he was never really the guy.  It’s hard to get in a rhythm like that, and with some more regular playing time, I’d be curious to see what he can do.  Abeita will likely be the backup, while Farnham plays the Ryan Baker/Eladio Rodriguez/Kevin Nelson/J.T. LaFountain role.  In reality, everyone here is a stopgap until the bigger prospects are deemed ready.

Infielders

David Adams, Walter Ibarra, Rob Lyerly, Addison Maruszak, Yadil Mujica, Ronnier Mustelier, Jose Pirela

THUNDER THOUGHTS: Mustelier has me interested.  He’s the only one of these guys I haven’t seen before (bet you forgot Ibarra was with the Thunder way back in 2008) and he must have the eye of someone in the organization to have been assigned to the Arizona Fall League this off-season.  Most of the attention amongst this group, however, will likely be focused on Adams.  The obvious storyline is if he can stay healthy, because that’s pretty obviously been a big problem for the past season and a half. 

Outfielders

Abe Almonte, Zoilo Almonte, Dan Brewer, Cody Johnson, Melky Mesa

THUNDER THOUGHTS: To me, if you’re buying a ticket to see this club, the guy you’d want to see the most is Zoilo Almonte.  Almonte had a strong spring after a breakout season in 2011 — I still wasn’t as impressed as most, mind you — but he’s a guy the organization is truly high on and may very well truly be the best prospect on this roster.  Mesa has the tools, but only time will tell if he can rebound from a rough year, and you have to wonder how patient the Yankees will be with Johnson, who obviously can hit the ball a country mile but strikes out way, way too much.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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