Archive for April 16th, 2008

Thunder Thoughts Tuesday Power Rankings

April 16, 2008

The initial batch of power rankings were pretty well received, so it’s time to break them out again.  Every Tuesday (OK, so today they come out Wednesday…) I’ll give you my thoughts on the Thunder roster, and rank the guys from 1 to 24.

Of course, my rankings are utterly and totally meaningless, but are pretty much designed for the purposes of discussion.  I encourage you to post your agreements or disagreements with the rankings, or even post your own list.  Heck…comments of any kind are encouraged, considering I’ve been on a little bit of a drought in that department lately.

NOTE: The player’s ranking from last week is listed next to their name in parenthesis.

1 – Daniel McCutchen, SP (1)

Jones probably deserves the number one spot, but Cutch was there last week and did absolutely nothing to deserve getting moved down.  When he’s on, he shows the kind of potential that makes you think he can be a factor in the big leagues sooner rather than later.

2 – Jason Jones, SP (5)

There’s no getting around it, JJ is locked in right now.  His 0.75 WHIP is a team best, and he’s yet to allow an earned run this year.

3 – Colin Curtis, OF (2)

Leads the team in RBI with nine, and has been pretty consistent this season. 

4 – Ramiro Pena, SS (4)

In nights where the Thunder offense fails to get going, Pena at least attempts to be the catalyst, frequently getting hits to try to start a rally.  Also, his defense has been spectacular, as he’s made several dazzling plays in the field and has been solid otherwise.

5 – Chase Wright, SP *8*

Wright has only made a handful of mistakes during his first three starts, and is a good veteran presence to have at the Double-A level.  Has been very solid in each outing.

6 – David Robertson, RP (9)

The only Thunder reliever left who hasn’t given up a run.  Robertson throws in the high 80’s to low 90’s, and is tied for second on the team with 12 strikeouts despite only pitching nine innings.

7 – Chris Malec, INF (21)

It seems like when Malec and Kevin Russo are in the game, the offense just flows.  Malec is pushing Cody Ehlers hard for playing time, but has also showed he’s capable of giving Marcos Vechionacci some rest at third as well.

8 – Austin Jackson, OF (11)

A-Jax, Action Jackson…whatever you want to call him, it looks like he’s starting to hit his stride.  Only one RBI so far, but he’s shown improved discipline at the plate and speed on the basepaths.

9 – Jose Tabata, OF (16)

Tabata moves up seven spots after showing some improved discipline at the plate as well.  Earlier, he’d been swinging at the first pitch too frequently, but has been taking more pitches, working the count, and getting better at-bats.

10 – Josh Schmidt, RP (17)

A solo home run is the only thing that stands in the way of Josh Schmidt and a 0.00 ERA.  He’s also the only Thunder pitcher who’s never walked a batter.

11 – Kevin Russo, INF (NR)

Russo has been a nice story so far, and is also pushing to find some regular playing time in the lineup.

12 – Cody Ehlers, 1B (6)

Were it not for his last two games, he’d be significantly lower.  He had an awful stretch of games to start the homestand, but recovered nicely to show that he’s ready to battle to keep his job.

13 – Marcos Vechionacci, 3B (10)

He hasn’t really done anything to stand out in my mind, to be honest.  He’s made three errors so far, and has been pretty solid at the plate, but I haven’t seen a standout tool from him.

14 – George Kontos, SP (19)

Needs to better.  Flat out, needs to be better.  Has averaged less than five innings per start, and has more walks than strikeouts.  The jump to Double-A is a big one, and it might be taking Kontos a while to adjust.

15 – Reegie Corona, 2B (13)

So far, he’s shown decent speed but no stick.  He’s hitting only .171, but has done well in the field and has combined with Ramiro Pena for an exciting double play combination.

16 – P.J. Pilittere, C (14)

Pilittere is always going to be one of those guys where the impact he makes on a team isn’t measured in anything you can find on a stat sheet.  I’ll have to look more into what makes pitchers consider a catcher a good gamecaller, because Pilittere is universally known as one of the best.

17 – Steven Jackson, RP (12)

Was doing pretty well until a rather poor outing a few days back.  Recovered nicely from it in the next one, and is still likely a top candidate for a call-up to Scranton if a bullpen guy is needed.

18 – Zach Kroenke, RP (23)

Has improved since being ranked next to last the previous week.  Still needs to show me something.

19 – Bo Hall, RP (7)

Had a pretty rough outing against the Senators over the weekend, struggling to locate his pitches.  Had been solid otherwise.

20 – Michael Gardner, RP (15)

Perhaps the epitome of the Jekyll and Hyde Thunder from the pitching standpoint.  Seems to always get ahead of hitters, then tends to lose them.

21 – Joe Muich, C (22)

Meh.  Another one of those guys you don’t really notice out there unless he does something wrong.

22 – Matt Carson, OF (3)

For as hot of a start as he got off to, Carson has been flat out cold ever since.  He said he’s going to stick with what he’s been doing, but he’s going to go from getting robbed out of a spot in Scranton to sitting on the bench in Trenton if he’s not careful.

23 – Eric Wordekemper, RP (24)

Where’s the guy from last year?  That guy made me think this year’s guy would be a lot better than he’s actually been.  His WHIP is a team high 2.36 after five appearances.

24 – Phil Coke, SP *18*

Out of all the starters, nobody has struggled more than Coke.  And if you saw him pitch in the exhibition game, it’s surprising because of just how well he pitched then.  More hits than innings and more walks than K’s are all not real good…

OFF THE BOARD: Carlos Mendoza.  Ranked 20th last week, Mendoza falls off the board after being deactivated from the active roster.

NEW ON THE BOARD: Kevin Russo.  Returned from a health scare to provide some offense and hit a bomb in just his second Double-A at-bat.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT


Scott Aldred On: Chase Wright

April 16, 2008

This is the first of five posts where Trenton Thunder pitching coach Scott Aldred breaks down the starting rotation, pitcher-by-pitcher. 

Scott isn’t the easiest guy to track down, but he took a break from looking at video of his pitchers just to give me a few minutes.  So this won’t be as in-depth as I think some of you might want, but hopefully this provides some answers to any specific questions you may have.

Up first is Chase Wright, who’s 2-1 in his first three starts with a 2.12 ERA.

TT: Let’s start off with Chase Wright.  What have you noticed about him, and what have you guys been working on?

SA: “Chase is a great pitch guy, (we’re) really working on getting his breaking ball serviceable so it becomes a Major League pitch for him.  The other stuff’s there, the sink on the ball.  Changeup, split.  We’re just working breaking ball right now.”

TT: So what do you specifically do with Chase to work on that with him?  Do you work on that in side sessions, or…

SA: “It’s got to stay within the framework of still competing every five days.  There’s limited times where you can work on an individual pitch, just because the workloads are high enough that…through sides and throwing in the game, we just make sure he’s using it in the game.”

TT: What specifically needs improvement on his breaking ball?  Break?  Location?

SA: “It’s all; spin, break, location.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Game 14: Altoona @ Trenton

April 16, 2008

Game 14 – Altoona Curve @ Trenton Thunder
April 16, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE Phil Coke (0-1, 5.00) vs. ALT Jimmy Barthmaier (1-0, 4.50)

Starting Lineups: Won’t be able to post these today, I won’t have access to the internet where I’m at.

Altoona (4-8, 2-3 vs. Thunder)

1 –
2 –
3 –
4 –
5 –
6 –
7 –
8 –
9 –

Trenton (7-6) (3-3 home record, 3-2 vs. Altoona)

1 –
2 –
3 –
4 –
5 –
6 –
7 –
8 –
9 –

Pre-Game Notes: As much as I’d love being at the ballpark at 11 in the morning with about 5,000 screaming little kids, I’m instead covering Atlantic League spring training.

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

Live Box Score: The direct link is here.

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

Final Score: 8-7, Curve.

Post-Game Notes: Michael Gardner picked up the loss in this one after allowing two runs on four hits in two innings.  Phil Coke had another rough one, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings.  Good game out of Tabata, and bombs from Malec and Ehlers.

Thunder Thoughts: I spoke to a scout last night about George Kontos’ performance the other day, and he said he thought Kontos’ pitches looked a little flat. I’ll have more on Kontos and the rest of the Trenton starters from my chat with pitching coach Scott Aldred coming up during the road trip.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT