Posts Tagged ‘Francisco Cervelli’

Game 7: Trenton @ Altoona

April 9, 2008

Game 7 – Trenton Thunder @ Altoona Curve
April 9, 2008
Blair County Ballpark – Altoona, PA

Pitching Matchup: TRE George Kontos (0-1, 3.00) vs. ALT Derek Hankins (0-0, 0.00)

Starting Lineups:

Trenton (4-2) (4-2 road record, 2-0 vs. Altoona)

1 – Reegie Corona, SS
2 – Austin Jackson, CF
3 – Jose Tabata, RF
4 – Colin Curtis, LF
5 – Matt Carson, DH
6 – Cody Ehlers, 1B
7 – Joe Muich, C
8 – Marcos Vechionacci, 3B
9 – Chris Malec, 2B

Altoona (1-5) (1-5 home record, 0-2 vs. Thunder)

1 – Boone
2 – Webster
3 – Pacheco
4 – Corley
5 – Delaney
6 – Bowers
7 – Cruz
8 – Perez
9 – Finegan

Farm Fresh: Our apparently now daily look at what’s going on elsewhere in the system…

(AAA) Scranton - While it hasn’t worked out for either highly touted pitcher at the big league level just yet, Homer Bailey vs. Kei Igawa is one hell of a matchup at the Triple-A level.  Accordingly, it was a 1-0 game.

But Scranton came out on the short end of the stick, losing on a first inning RBI double by super-prospect Jay Bruce.  Never trust a guy with two first names, kids.

Oddly, Chad Moeller may go from an 0-for-3 night with 3 K’s to the big leagues today.  Jorge Posada came out of the game last night with a shoulder issue.  Somewhere, Francisco Cervelli is throwing darts at a picture of Elliot Johnson.

Chris Britton, Jon Albaladejo and Edwar Ramirez combined for five innings of two-hit relief with four strikeouts.

(A) Tampa – The T-Yanks squeaked out a 1-0 win over Dunedin.  Eric Hacker is the truth, ladies and gentlemen.  Check this line out…

7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

The game was scoreless through nine after a rehabbing Sean Henn blew the perfect game, but Edwar Gonzalez drove in Chris Kunda in the bottom of the 10th for the W.

Seems like the choice is pretty obvious if the Thunder should need a starter early in the year…

(A) Charleston – It was a good night for River Dogs fans last night.  Seven runs, 16 hits and another W out of Dellin Betances added up to a 7-3 win over the Savannah Sand Gnats.

Betances clearly had some control issues, walking six batters in 5.1 innings of work.  But he also struck out eight, and allowed only two runs on two hits.

Every starter had at least one hit except for Taylor Holiday.  Brad Suttle is now hitting .500 after a 3-for-5 night, while Jesus Montero connected for his first A-Ball home run.

A lot of the offense came off of Mike Antonini, the Mets farmhand who was lights out in his debut a few days ago — allowing no hits in six innings — and the subject of a recent MILB.com piece.

Pre-Game Notes: Doubting anyone minds the 4:05 start on a getaway day.

Tim Lavigne, who appeared in 25 games for the Thunder, was recently released by the Baltimore Orioles organization.  Lavigne, who probably started hating his name right around the time a certain Canadian popstar became popular (see: Evan Longoria and Eva) was 0-2 with a 4.93 ERA for Trenton. 

In other moves, Dave Parrish was let go by the Rockies, and Colter Bean was axed by the Braves.  Aaron Rifkin was cut loose by the Marlins, and Gabe Lopez got canned by the Padres.

It is Kontos on the mound.  Incredible they’d let him go on three days rest, regardless of how many pitches he threw.  Phil Hughes could have thrown one pitch on April 5th, and trust me…he would not be pitching today.

Anyway, the pitching matchups have been set for the Harrisburg series.  Incredibly, it looks like Bobby Brownlie will not be pitching for the Senators.  Instead, he’s pitching tonight.  If a stray storm cloud wanted to stay over there for a while so the greedy reporter could get to see Brownlie tomorrow, that would be OK.

4/10: TRE Daniel McCutchen (1-0, 0.00) vs. HAR Shairon Martis (0-0, 9.00)
4/11: TRE Phil Coke (0-0, 6.75) vs. HAR Josh Hall (0-1, 24.00)
4/12: TRE Jason Jones (1-0, 0.00) vs. HAR Marco Estrada (1-0, 5.40)
4/13: TRE Chase Wright (1-1, 2.45) vs. HAR Imsael Ramirez (0-1, 6.75)

Chad Jennings is reporting that Alberto Gonzalez has been called up to New York, and Jason Brown has been activated for Scranton to take his place.  I suppose it’s worth noting that Ramiro Pena isn’t in today’s lineup.

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: After A-Jax singled and Tabata singled him over to third, Colin Curtis hit a sac fly to put the Thunder up 1-0 in the first.  That’s where we stand in the bottom of the 2nd.

The Thunder are trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the 3rd.  Gee, it was hard to predict Kontos might run into trouble on short rest.  Anyway, Miguel Perez drove in two runs with a single in the bottom of the 2nd to give Altoona the lead.

Trenton then proceeded to waste a leadoff triple by Chris Malec, and the game remains 2-1.

Same score in the bottom of the 4th.  Matt Carson is now hitless in his last nine at-bats.

2-1, bottom 5.  Trenton has left seven men on base through the first five innings.  Nice game out of Austin Jackson so far, he’s 2-for-3 with a run scored.

The Curve got another run off of Kontos in the 6th, and it’s now 3-1.

Kontos is out, Zach Kroenke is in.  Kontos line: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.

Gotta give Kontos some credit for hanging in there today.  Looking forward to chatting with him and maybe Scott Aldred tomorrow about this whole deal…

Kroenke pitched a perfect seventh, striking out two, and it’s 3-1 going into the 8th.

Hey, hey!  It’s tied 3-3 in Altoona after a two-run single from Reegie Corona.  Eric Wordekemper now in for the Thunder.

Three up, three down for the Thunder in the top of the 9th.  Altoona goes into the bottom of the frame with a chance for a walk-off win.

Wordekemper gave up two singles to start the ninth and was replaced by Josh Schmidt.  Harrisburg brought in Melvin Dorta to pinch-run for Brad Corley, who got the first of the two hits and was standing at second.

Nothing against Schmidt, who has been one of the Thunder’s better bullpen guys so far, but Steven Jackson being unavailable (most likely) after throwing three innings couldn’t have been comforting to Tony Franklin. 
Schmidt got two outs, but couldn’t get the third.  Miguel Perez singled home Jason Delaney for the walk-off win.  Had a feeling it would end that way.

Final Score: 4-3, Curve.

Post-Game Notes: Wordekemper hasn’t been as good as advertised, at least not yet.  He picked up the loss, and his ERA sits at a hearty 10.12 at the moment.

Matt Carson is now hitless in his last 12 at-bats.  Looks like that hot start has turned into a mini-slump.

Joe Muich threw out one of two attempted basestealers.

Jackson, Tabata, Curtis and Malec each had two hits.  Vechionacci’s 5-game hitting streak is over.

Thunder Thoughts: With the Thunder coming home tomorrow, please don’t forget that I’ll be back at the ballpark as well…I intend on covering the games on Thursday, Friday (unless I get Rangers-Devils tickets…in which case, you guys are on your own), Saturday and Sunday.  After that, I will likely go either Monday or Tuesday, but not both due to an Atlantic League commitment. 

If you have any specific things you want answered by any of the guys, or questions for myself, please pass them along in the comments or my inbox and I’ll do what I can.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Late Mailbag Question…

March 19, 2008

Somehow, this one got cut off from the last post.

Mike, what happens to the catching situation in Trenton now that Cervelli’s out for a while?

All indications point towards P.J. Pilittere returning for a second season, with Jason Brown possibly backing him up.  The thought originally was that Pilittere would be heading to Scranton for 2008, but Cervelli’s injury seems to have created more of a need for his return to Waterfront Park.

I think the real question is what happens when Cervelli returns.  Do the Yankees get rid of Chad Moeller so that Jason Brown has a spot?  Does Pilittere stay in Trenton?  Does Joe Muich or Ben Blumenthal or any of the other organizational catchers factor into this?

Trenton’s Big Three Sent Down, Other Notes…

March 10, 2008

The Yankees have their big three: Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy.

But last season, Trenton’s talented trio of Jeff Marquez, Alan Horne and Chase Wright anchored the team’s rotation and led them to their first Eastern League championship in the team’s 14-year history. 

This year?  They all got a look in big league camp, and Peter Abraham reports that all three got sent down together.  All three appear likely to anchor another rotation, this time in Triple-A Scranton.  Maybe one of them will pitch an inning or two in the April 1st exhibition game…

Abraham also reports that Francisco Cervelli will be out 8-10 weeks.  8-10 weeks!  That would have him out until some point in May.  Not good for the Thunder fans hoping for their first big name catcher since Dioner Navarro.

If you’re a fan of checking out other team’s prospects, however, Baseball America has some good news for you.  BA’s top Toronto Blue Jays prospect, Travis Snider, appears to be headed straight to Double-A New Hampshire. 

“It’s almost completely decided that he’s going there,” Blue Jays farm director Dick Scott told the publication.

How will you know which guy to look for?  At 5′ 11″, 245 pounds, he’ll be the guy who looks like a house in a baseball uniform.

The BA Prospect Handbook says some scouts considered him the best hitter in the ’06 draft — he went 14th overall and signed for $1.7 million — and that he’s “extremely advanced for a young hitter.”

His career numbers are pretty mind-boggling.  In two seasons, he’s a career .316 hitter with 27 home runs and 134 RBI.  He won the Appalachian League MVP in his first pro season in 2006, too.

He can hit for average and for power?  Yikes.  Snider is certainly someone to keep an eye on when the Fisher Cats come to Waterfront Park on May 16th.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

2008 Baseball America Top 30: #21-25

February 27, 2008

The Thunder Thoughts breakdown of Baseball America’s Top 30 Yankees Prospects for 2008 returns today with a look at prospects #21-25.  As you know by now, the Thunder’s new lead broadcaster, Steve Rudenstein, is on board to provide some analysis for this.

Steve’s done a great job of providing his expert analysis on each player, and I’ll throw my “Thunder Thoughts” in there after each of his player breakdowns.

As for Steve’s work, you should know that the below commentary are opinions solely from Steve Rudenstein, and do not represent the opinions of the Trenton Thunder (Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees) and the New York Yankees.

#21 1B Juan Miranda – A Cuban defect to the Dominican Republic, Miranda signed a four year, $4 million contract with the Yankees in 2006. There are questions about the legitimacy of his age, but Miranda makes up for the age questions with his bat. He had the most RBI of anyone in the Organization in 2007. Considering the fact that Miranda had not played organized baseball prior to this past season since his defect in 2004, he should continue to get better in 2008. Even though he can’t run that well and is still a work in progress defensively at first base, there is no reason why Miranda can’t be a 1B/DH platoon at the Major League level very soon. He can tattoo the baseball and hit it a mile.

Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts: This is a big year for Juan Miranda.  As Steve mentioned, what year of his life this is appears to be unknown, but the fact that he’s a legitimate power threat has put those issues on the backburner.  The worst thing you can do when analyzing someone’s defense is to call them a butcher.  Miranda isn’t one, but he does have some butcher-esque tendencies in the field and for the time being seems to project as a designated hitter.  While slow guys who can’t field all that well and have a lot of power aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, they aren’t the scarcest commodity in baseball either.  Miranda’s bat will take him to the big leagues at some point within the next two years, but he’s going to need to develop a lot more than that to stay there.  Whether he plays at Trenton or Scranton this season, he’s going to need to show some all-around improvement to make a name for himself in the crowded battle for the first base position in the Bronx.

If you’re resigned to the fact that Miranda will be nothing more than a designated hitter — as some are — then the number to watch out for this season will be his strikeouts.  He’s done a good job of keeping them down so far, but he’s going to need to continue doing that if his play in the field doesn’t improve.

#22 C Austin Romine – With Jorge Posada agreeing to a new four-year contract in the off-season, The Yankees are hopeful that some day either Montero or Romine will eventually succeed him. Romine was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft, and impressed Yankees’ officials with his athleticism and arm strength. He suffered a ligament tear in his left thumb at the end of his prep career, so hopefully the injury won’t affect his play this season. He is a year older than Montero and will play at a more advanced level this season, but ultimately will have to prove that he is a better prospect.

Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts: The Yankees second round selection in 2007, Austin Romine appears to be the complete package.  He can hit for average and power, and has a laser of an arm.  However, he only turned 19 years old about four months ago, and still has a lot of developing to do to translate his game to the pro level.  Of all the catching prospects the Yankees have — Jesus Montero included — I think Romine could be the quickest mover.  You won’t see him in Trenton for a while, and it will very interesting to see who gets there first…Romine or Montero. 

#23 C Francisco Cervelli – Cervelli is older and more experienced than Romine and Montero, but doesn’t project nearly as high. He skipped a level in 2007, jumping from Staten Island to Tampa and held his own. He led the Florida State League by throwing out 41 percent of base-stealers and exhibits good defensive intangibles. The reason Cervelli doesn’t project higher is because of his bat. He has hit for average, but doesn’t hit with much power (only six home runs in 247 minor league games). However, he still will only be 22 once the season starts. He was added to the 40-man roster in November, and stands a decent chance to make it to New York in the not too distant future, albeit if it is only as a back-up to Posada.

Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts: Despite being ranked 23rd on this list, there is a lot of hype surrounding Francisco Cervelli.  At 22 years old, Cervelli is very likely to make the jump to Double-A Trenton to start the season, where those who follow the organization will be watching closely to see if his offensive abilities can match his already well-refined defensive prowess.  Already on the 40-man roster, Cervelli can already taste the big leagues, but it would be very surprising to see him achieve that goal this season.

#24 RHP David Robertson – Robertson opened some eyes by handling Charleston (Low-A) and Tampa (High-A) with ease during his first professional season. He went 8-3 with a 0.96 ERA in 44 combined appearances, including two games with the Thunder. He also did not give up a home run last year. Because of the abundance of right-handed middle relief pitchers in the Yankees Minor League System, he still has his work cut out for him. A fastball/curveball/slider pitcher, Robertson likes to work down in the zone because he doesn’t throw extremely hard. At only 5’11” 180 pounds, Robertson will have to prove himself at every level. But after a sensational debut season, he is on the radar.

Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts: Picked in the 17th round in 2006, David Robertson has moved through the Yankees farm system pretty quickly.  Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see why.  Batters hit just .154 against him over three levels last season, and he has yet to allow his first professional home run in 84 innings of work.  However, he’s a solid middle reliever in a system full of them, and he’s going to have a make a real strong impression this season to distinguish himself among a talented group of Yankee farmhands.  It’s very possible he’ll start the season at Waterfront Park.

#25 LHP Mike Dunn – The Yankees Minor League System is littered from top to bottom with right-handed starting pitching prospects. Dunn, may be the best of a limited amount of left-handed starting pitching prospects. He started his minor league career as an outfielder, but when he hit under the Mendoza line for parts of two seasons, the Yankees converted him to a pitcher. A fastball/slider/change-up pitcher, Dunn is coming off a very good season at Charleston. He went 12-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 27 starts. Because he will turn 23 in May, Dunn has little margin for error because he has a long way to go in the organization. He will head to Tampa, and could be promoted to Trenton quickly if he experiences early success in 2008.

Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts: Mike Dunn is one of a growing list of Yankees prospects to flame out in the field and turn to the pitching mound as a last chance.  I think I’d be a little more optimistic about Dunn’s chances were it not for what happened with Kevin Whelan last season.  Whelan converted from a catcher to a pitcher in college, and struggled more than the numbers might show in Trenton last season.  Considering his standout season at Charleston last year, Dunn is a strong candidate to jump to Double-A this season.  But this level is a whole different beast, perhaps the most challenging stop in all of minor league baseball, and Dunn will have to show that he’s a “real pitcher” and not just some guy who can blow the ball past people because of his strong arm.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Brown re-signs with Yankees, DeSalvo to Atlanta

January 5, 2008

Jason Brown / Photo by Mike Ashmore (2007)

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


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