Archive for December, 2008

Corona, Kroenke Selected In Rule 5 Draft

December 11, 2008

Unless you and your friends were having a fantasy draft of people named Reegie, it’s hard to imagine that any sentence that goes something like, “And with the second overall pick, the Seattle Mariners have selected Reegie Corona” wouldn’t look a little silly.

Not so much.

With the second overall pick in the entire Rule 5 draft, the Seattle Mariners have selected Trenton second baseman Reegie Corona.


And that’s not at all.  The Florida Marlins got in on the act as well, picking lefty reliever Zach Kroenke.

Of the two, Kroenke is probably the closest to being big league ready, but I don’t think either player is ready for the show, to be honest. 

Considering the Marlins “save money at all costs” mantra, he would be a good fit in that sense if he can earn a spot.

I’ve read a lot about how Reegie Corona is defensively ready for the big leagues right now.  He is, but only if he plays second.  He seemed out of place at shortstop on many occasions this year.  As for his bat, it is what it is.  He’ll hit for decent average, but he’s never going to hit for any sort of power.

What do you guys think their chances are at sticking with their new clubs?

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT


Looking At The Rule 5 Draft From a Trenton Perspective (UPDATED)

December 11, 2008

See the bottom of the page for an important update…

Baseball America has posted their list of all of the players eligible for selection in today’s Rule 5 draft.  Keep in mind that a player taken in the draft must make the Major League roster of the team that picks him, or has to be offered back to his original team.

Last year, you might remember that the San Diego Padres selected relief pitcher Michael Gardner, but ultimately returned him to the Yankees.

You might also remember that Gardner told me that there was “not a day goes by where it doesn’t cross my head at some point,” so this can really have an affect on guys careers.

The complete list, followed by the player’s position and age, is here.

Anson, Kyle C 25
Arias, Wilkins LHS 28
Battle, Tim OF 23
Calzado, Josue OF 23
Castillo, Noel RHS 25
Classe, Luis OF 20
Cooper, James RF 24
Corona, Reegie IF 22
Cox, J.B. RHR 24
De Leon, Juan RHS 28
Duff, Grant RHS 25
Duncan, Eric 3B 23
Gardner, Michael RHS 27
Gil, Jose C 22
Gomez, Roy IF 23
Gonell, Jacinto RHS 25
Hernandez, Pablo RHS 20
Hoover, Jesse RHS 26
Horne, Alan RHS 25
Jones, Jason RHS 26
Kroenke, Zach LHS 24
Malec, Chris 2B 26
Marte, Ronny RHS 22
Mesa, Melquisedec OF 21
Mitre, Sergio RHS 27
Muich, Joseph C 26
Nova, Ivan RHS 21
Nunez, Eduardo SS 21
Nunez, Luis IF 22
Ortiz, Jonathan RHS 23
Patterson, Garrett LHS 26
Pena, Ramon IF 23
Pendleton, Lance RHS 25
Pilittere, P.J. C 27
Reyes, Angel LHS 21
Rufino, Wady OF 23
Santamaria, Jahdiel OF 21
Santos, Andres LHS 22
Schmidt, Josh RHR 26
Selenes, Josue RHS 23
Semerano, Rob RHS 27
Smith, Brett RHS 25
Stephens, Jason RHS 24
Vechionacci, Marcos 3B 22
Whelan, Kevin RHR 24
Wordekemper, Eric RHS 25

Of those players listed, 16 of them spent all or part of the season in Trenton in 2008.

Of those 16, here’s how I’d rank their chances of being picked…

Wilkins Arias: An undersized lefty who has just three seasons of pitching in the United States and didn’t put up impressive numbers during his first stint in Double-A.  Maybe someone picks him in the minor league phase to send him to Triple-A based on his age, but it seems very, very unlikely.

Chance of selection: 0%


James Cooper: A hard-working outfielder who was often seen joking around with Austin Jackson for the second half of last season, Cooper didn’t get on base enough in Trenton and lacks the speed that a Major League team would need to carry him as a spare corner outfielder.  I’d like to see what he can do with a full season in Trenton, and I bet I get that chance.

Chance of selection: 0%


Reegie Corona: A light-hitting infielder who is capable of dazzling defense at second base, but often anything but while manning shortstop.  However, he hits for decent average and is only 22 years old.  Maybe a team takes a chance on him just to get a look.

Chance of selection: 15%

J.B. Cox: The once-hard throwing former Texas closer hasn’t been right since injuring his elbow in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2006.  Before then, he appeared to be well on his way to the Bronx, with some thinking he’d be the successor to Mariano Rivera.  But he had a rough 2008, struggling with control and being able to regain his velocity.  Needs to improve his command of his secondary stuff if the fastball isn’t there, and based on his “name value,” he in theory could get a shot to do that somewhere else, but probably isn’t ready.

Chance of selection: 10%


Michael Gardner: At 27 years old, the righty reliever’s best chance at the big leagues may have come and gone with his selection and subsequent return in the Rule 5 draft last season.  He posted career worst numbers in ERA, walks and average against for the Thunder in 2008, and often had mind-boggling, frustrating struggles with command.  When his stuff is on, he’s pretty good, but I don’t think he was consistent enough to where he’ll get a second look.

Chance of selection: 2%


Jason Jones: For his entire pro career, Jones has heard how he doesn’t throw hard enough and how he probably just isn’t good enough to pitch in the big leagues.  He disagrees, and I do too.  He’s got to be a darkhorse to get picked in this thing, and his numbers and consistency would have to support it.  I’d be willing to bet that if he did get picked and didn’t make the big league club, the Yankees might just let whatever team that took him to keep him, and that’s probably the best thing for him.

Chance of selection: 8%


Zach Kroenke: A 24-year-old southpaw reliever, Kroenke finally put up good numbers at the Double-A level after struggling in 2007, and even fared well for himself during a brief stay in Scranton as well.  I don’t think a Rule 5 choice is in the cards for him this year, but if he can maintain his recent performance, I could certainly see it next year.

Chance of selection: 2%


Chris Malec: Malec’s age works against him here, but his performance doesn’t.  He did very well for himself in Trenton last year after most people thought he’d spend the year riding the pine as a backup corner infielder.  He ended up hitting .291 with five home runs and 52 RBI, and even made the trip to the Eastern League All-Star Game.  Ideally, he spends next season in Triple-A, but I could see someone giving him a chance in the big leagues.

Chance of selection: 20%


Joe Muich: Behind first P.J. Pilittere and then Francisco Cervelli in Trenton last season, the third-year pro got little chance to put up any sort of consistent production, hitting just .218 with no home runs and 10 RBI in 45 games.  I really don’t think anyone who would have even wanted to see him could have really gotten a good luck at him to justify a rule 5 pick.

Chance of selection: 0%


Ramiro Pena: I wonder if Pena is the only player who played in last year’s Futures Game who’s Rule 5 eligible.  Then again, he probably had little business in the game to begin with.  With that aside, I could see Pena getting picked.  While he and Corona are essentially the same player — I think Pena plays a better shortstop than Corona does second base, though — there seems to have always been an infatuation with Pena, and perhaps there are a few teams out there who could keep him on the bench as a 24th or 25th guy and hope he turns into something.

Chance of selection: 25%


P.J. Pilittere: Like Jones, Pilittere likely wouldn’t mind getting picked in the draft.  But also similar to Jones, it’s unlikely that he will be selected.  While anyone who watched Trenton play last year knows how invaluable he was to their success, his All-Star selection aside, he didn’t do anything in terms of statistics that would really jump out at anyone.  He calls a great game, but needs to strengthen his arm to improve his chances of being a solid big leaguer.  I do believe he’ll play in the big leagues one day, but I don’t think that timetable will include being on an Opening Day roster this year.

Chance of selection: 5%


Josh Schmidt: 2008 was supposed to be a big year for Schmidt, and all indications early on were that it was going to be just that.  He threw an inning for Scranton during their exhibition game in Trenton, and was pitching pretty well when he got the chance during the first month of the season.  The issue was, of course, that he wasn’t getting that chance.  Schmidt had big gaps between appearances in a Thunder uniform, and was eventually jettisoned to Tampa for the remainder of the season, where he watched numerous relievers get called to Double-A over him.  With just eight games of Double-A experience, I doubt he gets picked.

Chance of selection: 1%


Jason Stephens: He impressed me more in his one start with the Thunder than Christian Garcia did.  And for what people think Garcia’s going to become, I guess that’s saying a lot.  But that one game is the only experience that the 24-year-old has at the Double-A level, and that leaves him very unlikely to be selected today.

Chance of selection: 0%

Marcos Vechionacci: Holy disappointment, Batman.  Stick him with Kevin Howard and Eric Duncan as guys who were terribly overrated as pro prospects.  Vechionacci was once a top 8 prospect in the organization according to BA.  A recurring quad injury ended his 2008 season before it really got started, and even though he’s just 22, patience is starting to run out.  A big 2009 could go a long way towards redeeming his prospect status, but he’s pretty much fallen off the radar for the time being.  Next to no chance someone picks him up.

Chance of selection: 1%

Kevin Whelan: Whelan’s numbers were pretty deceptive, as they were actually pretty solid last season.  But he battled a forearm injury, and some pretty big issues with his command as well.  They’re two different pitchers, but I guess you could say he’s similar to Michael Gardner in the sense that while both had big-time command issues at times last year, when both are on, they’re hard to hit.  I could see someone taking Whelan on the “name value” premise, but I doubt it.

Chance of selection: 5%


Eric Wordekemper: Wordy was apparently on the Josh Schmidt plan last year, where a big year was expected of him, and he never really got the chance to fulfill his potential and was shipped south to Tampa.  I could see someone picking him to send him to Triple-A based off of his stellar 2007 season in Single-A, but it’s unlikely he goes in the big league phase.

Chance of selection: 1%


Of the players who didn’t suit up for the Thunder last year, the favorite to get selected would seem to be Alan Horne.  Horne is coming off of an injury riddled season that took his prospect train clear off the tracks.  But keep in mind that a player picked has to be on a 25-man roster for the entire season, but also needs to be active for 90 days as well.  In theory, Horne could be placed on the disabled list at the start of the season and be given more time to recover from his injuries in a new organization.

Make sure you read Chad Jennings take on the Rule 5 as well.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

UPDATE: Ramiro Pena is NOT eligible for the Rule 5 draft.  Ramon Pena, who perhaps for the convenience of easily confused sportswriters should consider changing his name or perhaps using some sort of symbol like Prince did (does?), is.  I stand by my Futures Game rip though…he really didn’t belong in that game.

UPDATE 2: I spoke to a scout, and this particular scout feels that none of the Trenton players are likely to be selected…however, if one was, it would likely be Kroenke because he’s a lefty.

Yankees Bring Back Mendoza, Valdez

December 10, 2008

The handy dandy Baseball America transactions page reports that the New York Yankees have re-signed INF Carlos Mendoza and P Jose Valdez, as well as re-signing C Ben Blumenthal and signing former big league OF Justin Leone.


Carlos Mendoza: The 29-year-old Venezuela native will be heading into his fourth season in the Yankees organization, and will likely be spending his third season in Trenton.

Looked up to by the Latin players, Mendy saw very limited playing time with the Thunder last season due to injuries and occasionally simply being the odd man out.  The utility infielder brings solid defense and an adequate bat to Waterfront Park, although his speed seems to have diminished and he never really had a lot of power to begin with.


Jose Valdez: The tall and lanky Dominican has been in the Yankees farm system since 2001, and has made a very, very slow trek through the system.  Last year was his first stint in Double-A, and he handled himself quite well, going 1-0 with a 2.22 ERA and four saves.  He also walked just seven batters, compared to 23 strikeouts, and held opposing batters to just a .195 average.

However, he’s listed as being 185 pounds, and I’d have to imagine he was holding some weights at the time he stepped on the scale.  He has a very small frame that seems to have little room for addition, and putting on a few pounds certainly wouldn’t hurt him.

Ben Blumenthal: Blumenthal has spent the past two seasons in the Yankees organization, and has amassed a grand total of 132 at-bats in the process.  He split last season between Staten Island and Tampa, and is a career .241 hitter between his time with the Yankees and Reds systems.

I’d have to imagine that Blumenthal would be a likely candidate to fill the J.T. LaFountain/Eladio Rodriguez/Jason Brown role as an organizational depth guy who can go wherever a catcher is needed.

Justin Leone: Leone will be 32 years old when the season gets underway, and is somewhat of a curious signing.  He reminds me of an older version of Shawn Garrett, one of those minor league veteran guys with some pop who generally do pretty well at the minor league level…but also one of those guys that the Yankees seem to get rid of pretty quickly…see: Garrett.

Leone has 32 games of big league experience under his belt with both the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, and spent last season in Triple-A with the Giants organization.  He’s hit 85 home runs over his past five Triple-A seasons, and seems destined to head to Scranton in 2009.  He primarily played in the outfield last season, but has also played quite a bit of third base in the past as well. 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Russo vs. Malec: Who Will Have The Better Career?

December 6, 2008

Thought this might be a good way to get some discussion going on the blog again.  I’m going to pick a few players and ask you who you feel like will have the better career.

This one’s pretty simple…who do you think will have the better career, Chris Malec or Kevin Russo?


Chris Malec (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

The Malec File

Age: 26
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 195 lbs.

Primary Position: 3B

2008 statistics: .291 avg., 5 HR, 51 RBI, 68 BB, 57 K, 0 SB

Pros: Plate discipline
Cons: Needs to improve defense to maximize versatility


Kevin Russo (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

The Russo File

Age: 24
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 190 lbs.

Primary Position: 2B

2008 statistics: .307 avg., 2 HR, 33 RBI, 23 BB, 42 K, 8 SB

Pros: Consistency
Cons: Minimal power

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Thunder Voted Minor League Team of the Year

December 3, 2008

(PR) The Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, have been named the Minor League Team of the Year in the “This Year in Minor League Baseball Awards”. All voting was conducted by the fans through

The Thunder garnered 67 percent of the vote in the Team of the Year category, which was the largest percentage of any winner. They also had the largest margin of victory, beating Augusta (Low-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants), which captured 20.2 percent of the vote. In comparison, the Sacramento River Cats (Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics), who have won back-to-back Pacific Coast League and Bricktown Showdown titles, managed only 4.6 percent of the vote.

The other categories included:

Hitter of the Year:

Roberto Lopez (Orem, Short-season affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels)

Starting Pitcher of the Year:

Madison Bumgarner (Augusta, Low-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants)

Closer of the Year:

Robert Manuel (Chattanooga, Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati)

Single-Game Performance of the Year:

David Francis (Danville, Short-season affiliate of the Atlanta Braves)

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.

Oakland Fans Get To See Carson…Daily

December 2, 2008

Haven’t written on here in about a week, and the best I can do is a Carson Daly joke.  Anyone remember when he was relevant?  Me neither.

In any event, getting to things that are relevant, Chad Jennings is reporting that the Oakland Athletics have signed former Thunder outfielder Matt Carson to a minor league deal that also includes a spring training invite.

Carson played parts of four seasons with the Thunder, including a full campaign in 2007.  He played in a total of 215 games for Trenton, hitting .246 in 768 at-bats with 24 home runs and 116 RBI.

He spent about a month at Waterfront Park this season before eventually being summoned to Triple-A Scranton, where he finished out the year.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT