Archive for July 1st, 2009

McAllister Among Five Thunder All-Stars

July 1, 2009

Five members of the Trenton Thunder were named to participate in the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game today.

In addition, Tony Franklin will manage the North Division, and will be accompanied by his staff.

Zach McAllister is in his first season at the Double-A level, but you’d never know it from the numbers.  He’s 5-3 with an Eastern League best 1.76 ERA.  He came into the season as the Yankees sixth best prospect, as rated by Baseball America.

Josh Schmidt is 6-1 with a 1.48 ERA with the Thunder this season, one year after being shipped to Tampa after starting the year in Trenton.  His .185 batting average against is best among his active teammates.

Eduardo Nunez is hitting .309 with four home runs and 30 RBI in 61 games this season, his first in Double-A.  Although his 17 errors are a team high, his batting average puts him second on the team, behind only…

…The Jorge Vazquez Experience!  TJVE is the best longball threat the Thunder have, and is leading the club with 10 home runs through 43 games.  His .321 average is a team-high as well, as are his 42 RBI. 

Reegie Corona has seen time at Triple-A Scranton this season, but it’s his Double-A numbers that earned him this All-Star appearance.  Returned by the Mariners as a Rule 5 Draft Pick this year, he’s hitting .298 with three home runs and 16 RBI for Trenton this year.

Here’s the Thunder’s press release, complete with full rosters.

(PR) (Trenton, NJ)- The Trenton Thunder, Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, in conjunction with the Eastern League, today announced the rosters for the 2009 Eastern All-Star Game, which will take place Wednesday, July 15th at Waterfront Park in Trenton, NJ.

The 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game will feature some of the top prospects and brightest stars from the league’s 12 teams. The top players from the Eastern League’s Northern Division (Binghamton Mets, Connecticut Defenders, New Britain Rock Cats, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Portland Sea Dogs and Trenton Thunder) will take on the best of the Southern Division (Akron Aeros, Altoona Curve, Bowie Baysox, Erie Sea Wolves, Harrisburg Senators, and Reading Phillies).

Each roster consists of 24 players, including at least three players from each of the Eastern League’s 12 teams. At least one position player, and one pitcher, who were selected by fans of each team through online and stadium balloting, represent every team. The remaining selections were made through voting by league media, managers and officials. The field staffs will be from the host Thunder and the Akron Aeros (Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) and will be led by managers Tony Franklin (Trenton), and Mike Sarbaugh (Akron).

Several of the players selected to the Eastern League All-Star Game are among the top prospects in their respective organizations. Five players – Connecticut Pitcher Madison Bumgarner, Akron Catcher Carlos Santana, New Britain Outfielder Rene Tosoni, Portland Pitcher Junichi Tazawa, and Akron Outfielder Nick Weglarz – will represent their teams in the Eastern League All-Star Game and the MLB XM All-Star Futures Game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO. on Sunday, July 12th. Trenton Manager Tony Franklin will also be a coach for the U.S. Team at the Futures Games.

Below are the rosters for the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game:
* = Fan Vote

NORTHERN DIVISION ALL-STARS

P Madison Bumgarner* Connecticut
P Matt Fox New Britain
P T.J. Large Portland
P Zach McAllister* Trenton
P Roy Merritt* Binghamton
P Joe Paterson Connecticut
P Reidier Gonzalez* New Hampshire
P Josh Schmidt Trenton
P Anthony Slama* New Britain
P Junichi Tazawa* Portland
C Brian Jeroloman* New Hampshire
C Josh Thole* Binghamton
INF Lars Anderson* Portland
INF Brock Bond* Connecticut
INF Reegie Corona Trenton
INF/OF Brian Dinkelman New Britain
INF Brian Dopirak New Hampshire
INF Jorge Jimenez Portland
INF Eduardo Nunez Trenton
INF Whitney Robbins* New Britain
INF Jorge Vazquez* Trenton
OF Eddy Martinez-Esteve Connecticut
OF Rene Tosoni New Britain
OF D.J. Wabick Binghamton

SOUTHERN DIVISION ALL-STARS

P Daniel Moskos* Altoona
P Ryan Ouellette* Bowie
P Josh Perrault Bowie
P Vinnie Pestano Akron
P Josh Rainwater* Erie
P Hector Rondon* Akron
P Joe Savery* Reading
P Jack Spradlin* Harrisburg
P Josh Wilkie Harrisburg
P Vance Worley Reading
C Alex Avila Erie
C Carlos Santana Akron
INF/OF Miguel Abreu* Bowie
INF/OF Leonard Davis* Harrisburg
INF/OF Jason Delaney* Altoona
INF Brian Friday Altoona
INF Beau Mills* Akron
INF Neil Sellers Reading
INF/OF Ryan Strieby Erie
INF/OF Jonathan Tucker Bowie
OF Brennan Boesch Erie
OF Deik Scram* Erie
OF Michael Taylor* Reading
OF Nick Weglarz Akron

The 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game will be played at Mercer County Waterfront Park on Wednesday, July 15th at 7:05 PM. The gates at Waterfront Park will open for all fans at 2:05 PM – a full five hours before the first pitch. Fans will be able to watch both teams take batting practice then there will be an autograph session and a Home Run Derby.

All-Star Game tickets are available now by calling 609-394-3300 or online at http://www.trentonthunder.com.

The Thunder are the only team in Minor League Baseball history at the Double A Level or below to draw over 400,000 fans for 14 consecutive seasons and have drawn over 6 million in attendance in its 15-year history.

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Brad Halsey’s Last Chance

July 1, 2009

halsey It was just five years ago that a fresh faced 23-year-old left-handed pitcher by the name of Brad Halsey was wearing New York Yankee pinstripes, seeing his first big league action in what looked to be a promising and long career.

Today, Halsey finds himself wearing the pinstripes of the Long Island Ducks, a member of the eight-team independent Atlantic League.

Citibank Park, the 6,000 seat stadium Halsey now calls home, is roughly 50 miles from Yankee Stadium, but light years away for a once-promising pitcher struggling in what may be his last chance to get back to the bigs.

Before he ever got to Yankee Stadium though, Halsey pitched for the Trenton Thunder back in 2003, making 15 starts and sporting a 7-5 record with a 4.93 ERA.

“It was definitely an adjustment going from A-Ball to Double-A at that time,” said Halsey, who was drafted in the 8th round by the Yankees in 2002.

“I definitely enjoyed my time there, and made some good friends there.”

More than just friendships, Halsey took away some knowledge that would help him as his career progressed as well.

“Trenton was a place where I started to refine my pitches, particularly a breaking ball,” Halsey said.

“I’ve never had a very good slider, but it improved there out of necessity. Going there and being mostly fastball-changeup with a bad slider, it became somewhat necessary to work on that pitch.”

One year later, Halsey found himself playing for the New York Yankees, going from crowds of five or six thousand to fifty and sixty thousand.

“It was awesome,” Halsey said.

“It was everything I imagined it would be, and then some. It was quite an experience going there. The first day, I wasn’t actually on the roster until the day I was going to pitch, so it was kind of a whirlwind experience, just getting on the bus and meeting my manager for the first time, and all my new teammates, right there.”

Somewhat oddly, it isn’t any one moment from the mound that Halsey takes with him from his days as a Yankee. Instead, it’s a moment at the plate.

“My first Major League at-bat, I got a hit and ran through first base on a soft liner to left field,” Halsey said.

“All my teammates in the dugout were laughing their butts off, because it was probably the funniest thing they’d seen anybody do in a while.”

Perhaps making the feat all the more impressive was that it was off of Hideo Nomo, whose delivery had mystified many a position player over the years, no less pitchers.

“If I remember correctly, I believe he was out of the windup,” Halsey recalled.

“I just told myself that he’s probably going to throw me a fastball. And he threw me a two-seamer with just a little bit of movement. I’ve got a pretty slow bat, so I’ve got to cheat to get to it, but I did. And I got that soft liner to left.”

The Texas native wouldn’t get too many more chances to pad the Yankeeography, as he got dealt to the Diamondbacks as part of a multi-player trade that netted the Bronx Bombers a future Hall of Famer in Randy Johnson.

The following year, he was traded again, this time to the Oakland Athletics.

Halsey said there were some pretty major differences between the Yankee way and the “other way.”

“Every organization has a particular way of going about their business,” Halsey said.

“When you’re with the Yankees, it’s extremely business like. Guys don’t necessarily show up any earlier, but when they get to the ballpark, they get right to work. Where Oakland is more of a polar opposite of them. There’s guys coming in the clubhouse early, but hang out, play cards and joke around a lot. It’s a far looser atmosphere. They can both be condusive to winning, it’s just kind of a fit in where you fit in type of thing.”

That 2006 season in Oakland would be Halsey’s last in the big leagues to date, and it was punctuated by giving up Barry Bonds’ 714th career home run*, which tied him with Babe Ruth for second all-time.

If fans know Halsey’s name for anything, it’s likely to be that. But he says it doesn’t play much of a role in his desire to get back to the big leagues.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that particular moment is a driving force to get back,” Halsey said.

“It’s more an internal drive, knowing what I’m capable of, and knowing that I haven’t reached my full potential yet. That’s my primary motivation.”

Halsey started the 2007 season in the A’s organization, but went down early in the year with a shoulder injury that was eventually diagnosed as a torn labrum. Essentially, it’s put him where he is now.

“It’s definitely set me back two years; 12 months of nothing but rehab,” Halsey said.

“It’s been almost two years now, and I’m still not where I was. But I do see other ways that I can still improve. So I can’t say how big of a setback it was, because I haven’t overcome it yet.”

Physically, Halsey says, he has overcome. Mentally, however, is a different story.

“He’s got a good, quality arm,” said Ducks pitching coach Dave LaPoint, a member of the 1982 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

“At first, we got him and he was worried about coming back from the surgery. Is he going to get the velocity back? Is he going to get back to full health? It’s taken him a while to believe that it is all there.”

Released by the Dodgers in spring training, the Texas native is 3-5 with a 5.86 ERA in 11 starts for the Ducks, walking 27 batters and striking out just 26 in 58.1 innings of work.

Independent baseball, after all, is the lowest link on baseball’s food chain. Halsey knows this. But he also knows he’d be sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring if it didn’t exist.

“This opportunity, it means everything to me,” he said.

“Without this opportunity and this league and others like it, the only other option would be to hang out and play in a men’s league, which I’ve done as well. After being released by Oakland, when I was in a rehab program throwing at 100 feet, it makes it difficult to pursue your dreams. It’s just a roadblock, and you have to find another way around it.”

Despite the questionable numbers with the Ducks this season, Halsey is a known commodity who could be a valuable asset to an organization at the Double-A or Triple-A level.

“He’s still young and he’s left-handed,” LaPoint said.

“He does have a live arm, and he’s got four good pitches. His fastball is 87, 88, 89 when he’s on, and everybody can use that. If he can roll off three or four good starts and there’s somebody here watching him, he could get taken.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com