Archive for October, 2008

Hacker, De La Rosa Added to 40-Man Roster

October 31, 2008

(PR) The New York Yankees announced today they have added left-handed pitcher Wilkin De La Rosa and right-handed pitcher Eric Hacker to the 40-man roster.

De La Rosa, 23, was 9-4 with a 2.11 ERA (106.2IP, 72H, 35R, 25ER, 44BB, 125K) in 32 combined games (11 starts) with Single-A Charleston and Single-A Tampa in 2008, ranking fifth in the organization in strikeouts. He began the season in the bullpen and was 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA (49.1IP, 15ER) in 21 relief appearances. In his 11 starts, he went 6-3 with a 1.82 ERA (59.1IP, 12ER), limiting opponents to 2ER or less in each start.

Signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in November 2001, De La Rosa was converted to a pitcher in 2007, going 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA in 12 relief appearances with the GCL Yankees in his first action on the mound (24.0IP, 32K). The Dominican Republic native played his first five professional seasons (2002-06) as an outfielder, batting a combined .224 with three home runs and 88RBI in 287 games.

Hacker, 25, was 9-6 with a 2.43 ERA (144.1IP, 121H, 47R, 39ER, 37BB, 115K) in 26 combined starts with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2008, ranking second in the organization in ERA. He limited opponents to three runs or less in all but one start, including a stretch of four straight starts without giving up an earned run from 4/8-24 w/ Tampa (27.0IP, 7H, 2R, 2BB, 18K). On 4/8 vs. Dunedin (TOR), in his second start of the season (w/ Tampa), he threw 7.0 no-hit innings but did not record a decision. Hacker went 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in two postseason starts for the Double-A champion Trenton Thunder, recording the win in Game 1 of the Eastern League Division Series and Game 1 of the Championship Series.

In six minor league seasons (2002-08), Hacker owns a 30-15 record with a 2.70 ERA in 75 games (67 starts). He was selected by the Yankees in the 23rd round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

Thunder Win Dundie MiLBY Award As Best Double-A Team

October 27, 2008

Dundie, MiLBY, same thing…

(PR) Minor League Baseball, the governing body for affiliated professional baseball, named the Trenton Thunder, the Double A affiliate of the New York Yankees, the winner of the Minor League Baseball Yearly Award (MiLBY) for the Best Team at the Double-A level. The announcement was made on on Monday, October 27.

The Thunder won its second consecutive Eastern League Championship in 2008 and were the first Eastern League team to win two consecutive championships since Harrisburg (Double-A affiliate of the Harrisburg Senators) won four straight titles between 1996-99. The Thunder’s 86-54 overall record featured their second-most wins since they began play in 1994.

In 2007, the Best Team at the Double-A level was the Southern League’s Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays).

Below are the winners of the 2008 MiLBY award for Best Team:

OVERALL: Augusta (San Francisco Giants)
TRIPLE-A: Sacramento (Oakland Athletics)
DOUBLE-A: Trenton Thunder (New York Yankees)
HIGH-A: Potomac (Washington Nationals)
LOW-A: Augusta (San Francisco Giants)
SHORT-SEASON: Spokane (Texas Rangers)

The Thunder will begin its quest to win back-to-back-to-back Eastern League Championships against the Binghamton Mets (Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets) on April 8, 2009 at Waterfront Park. The Thunder will also host the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game on July 15, 2009 at Waterfront Park.

2008 Ashmore Awards

October 23, 2008

(Note: You can also read this in the Democrat today.  Had to hold off on posting these until the story ran in my paper.)

Another Trenton Thunder season in the books, and another season of Ashmore’s Awards get handed out.

This is my third season of covering the Thunder for the Democrat as a writer, and my fifth overall. In taking a look at these awards, I’ll also provide the history of the players who have won them in seasons past, including when they were handed out by good friend and colleague Scott Stanchak when he was on the beat from 2003-05.

As I said last season, this is some of the most insignificant hardware this team will have won this year, as the Thunder went on to win their second consecutive Eastern League championship.

In any event, drumroll please…

Ashmore’s 2008 Trenton Thunder MVP: P.J. Pilittere

Much of Trenton’s success was attributed to the pitching staff, which led the league in ERA (3.11), fewest hits allowed (1065), shutouts (16) and strikeouts (1122). But largely overlooked was one of the big reasons behind their success, starting catcher P.J. Pilittere.

That all started to change this year, when the backstop played in his first Eastern League All-Star Game and started collecting some clutch hits to give the Thunder some key wins.

With Francisco Cervelli having a spot on the 40-man roster and already having made his big league debut, there are many who feel that Pilittere’s days in the Yankees organization are numbered. But he deserves a chance to start in Triple-A Scranton next year, and shouldn’t be overlooked if the big league club has a need behind the plate.

Scott Stanchak’s Previous Winners: Brian Myrow (2003), Mitch Jones (2004), Shelley Duncan (2005)

Ashmore’s Previous Winners: Randy Ruiz (2006), Noah Hall (2007)

Ashmore’s 2008 Trenton Thunder Cy Young: Jason Jones

For most of the 2008 season, Jason Jones was the best pitcher in the entire Eastern League. He got the start in the league’s annual midsummer classic, and even saw some time in Triple-A Scranton.

But like Pilittere, there are many who feel that Jones doesn’t have a very bright future in the Yankees organization. And just as is the case with Pilittere, the organization would be missing out if they didn’t offer him a legitimate chance at the next level in 2009.

He finished 2008 with a 13-7 record and 3.33 ERA, and appropriately enough was on the mound to record the final out when the Thunder won the championship at home in Waterfront Park.

Scott Stanchak’s Previous Winners: Andy Beal (2003), Dave Shepard (2004), Justin Pope (2005)

Ashmore’s Previous Winner: Phil Hughes (2006), Alan Horne and Scott Patterson (2007)

Ashmore’s 2008 Trenton Thunder Good Guy Award: Tony Franklin

It’s interesting in that if I were to give this award to a player, Pilittere and Jones would probably have ended up splitting it. But it would be hard to find anyone more deserving than manager Tony Franklin.

With my increased involvement with the Thunder this season, I found myself needing to lean on Franklin more for quotes and information about his team’s players. He was always more than accommodating, and would often keep us in his office for well over the time we were supposed to be in there, telling great stories and making us feel like we belonged in there.

Franklin got to spend the last week at Yankee Stadium in uniform, “called up” to the big leagues by the 26-time World Champions as a reward for back-to-back championships. For someone who has helped so many careers over as long of a period of time as he has, it was fitting that the first time he ever stepped foot in “The House That Ruth Built” would be wearing the famous Yankee pinstripes.

Future “Good Guy” awards will be named after the Thunder skipper.

Ashmore’s Previous Winners: Charlie Manning (2006), Jason Brown (2007)

Election Day

October 16, 2008

So apparently there’s some sort of Presidential Election-type thing going on in a few weeks.  Something about The Rock versus Edwin McCain, I’m not really sure.  Perhaps I misremembered.

But what I do know, is that I’ve got three new polls for you to vote in.  I’m starting a “Fans Choice” section to my annual awards, and I want to know who you think is the Thunder’s MVP, Pitcher of the Year and Unsung Hero.

I’d like to have some other categories, but things such as “Thunder Manager of the Year” and “Thunder Thoughts Blogger of the Year” might be just as ridiculous as when “Dylon” was asked to name the five best rappers of all-time in a Chappelle’s Show sketch.

Oh, and I’ve evidently (finally) figured out how to have on-page YouTube videos on the blog.  So look for that in 2009.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

POLL: Who’s Your 2008 Thunder Unsung Hero?

October 16, 2008

In thinking about it, I don’t think I should give out an Unsung Hero Award.  As a member of the media, I can more or less determine which players I write about and which players I don’t.  So while in reality, some guys may actually fit the definition of “unsung hero,” in my own mind, I may have written about him so much that it may not feel that way to me.

So this award is in your hands, and will be recognized down the road as a “Fans Choice Award” for as long as I end up covering this team.

POLL: Who’s Your 2008 Thunder Pitcher of the Year?

October 16, 2008

Weigh in with your opinions on who you think the 2008 Thunder Pitcher of the Year should be.  A special “Fans choice” award will be recognized alongside with my choice(s).

Previous winners include:

2003 – Andy Beal
2004 – Dave Shepard
2005 – Justin Pope
2006 – Phil Hughes
2007 – Alan Horne and Scott Patterson

Note: Scott Stanchak covered the Thunder for the Democrat from 2003-2005, and I started in 2006.

POLL: Who’s Your 2008 Thunder MVP?

October 16, 2008

I know you guys have discussed this in one of the previous threads, but now WordPress has allowed me to use polls.  So I will.

Now that I actually have readers — since not too many people actually read my stuff in the Democrat, let’s be honest here — I will also recognize the fans choices for these awards alongside of my own selection.

Manning To St. Louis

October 15, 2008




None of the above, actually.  Special thanks to my colleague and good friend Scott Stanchak for passing along a note that former Thunder pitcher Charlie Manning was claimed off of waivers from the Washington Nationals by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Manning, one of the true good guys in the clubhouse during my early years of covering this team — said the guy in his third season as a Thunder beat writer — played for parts of five seasons at Waterfront Park.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Former Thunder Pitcher Foster Dead At Age 39

October 14, 2008

Kevin Foster, who appeared in 11 games for the Trenton Thunder during the 2000 season, has passed away at age 39 after a battle with renal cell carcinoma.

Foster was 4-3 with a 4.21 ERA for the Thunder, including one complete game.  He appeared in 100 Major League games for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers over the course of seven seasons.

I attended many Thunder games as a fan that year, back when I was 17 years old.  I was fortunate enough to see him pitch that year, and also vividly remember him jokingly encouraging Angel Santos to sign an autograph for a young fan after the kid was calling for Santos by his number.

“Santos, you heard the man,” Foster said with a smile.

My Thunder signed baseball from that year, complete with Foster’s autograph, just became a little more special.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Who’s Your Thunder MVP?

October 14, 2008

As promised, my Thunder awards will be coming shortly.  I’ll be handing out imaginary hardware to those deserving of my MVP, Pitcher of the Year and Good Guy Awards.

This will be my third season of awards, as this is my third season as the Thunder beat writer.

But my mind can be changed…I’ll give you guys a few days to discuss who you think should be the Thunder MVP, and then I’ll post my choice for the award.

This was the sixth season of Thunder coverage by the Democrat — three from my predecessor Scott Stanchak and three from myself.  Here’s the history of the Democrat’s Thunder MVP award:

2003: Brian Myrow
2004: Mitch Jones
2005: Shelley Duncan
2006: Randy Ruiz
2007: Noah Hall

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT