Archive for July 12th, 2009

Thunder Blow Out Defenders

July 12, 2009

(PR) (Norwich, CT)- Trenton scored six runs in the second inning and went on to roll past Connecticut 9-2 on Sunday afternoon from Dodd Stadium in Norwich, CT. Trenton has now won four of its last five games.

Down 2-1 in the second inning, Trenton exploded for six runs in the second inning. With one out in the frame, Right fielder Edwar Gonzalez doubled off Connecticut Starting Pitcher Books McNiven (1-3). Catcher Kyle Anson followed with an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2. After Third baseman Marcos Vechionacci was hit by a pitch, Center fielder Austin Krum connected on a two-run triple to give Trenton a 4-2 lead. Krum had his second three-hit game for the Thunder. He went 3 x 5 with two runs and two RBI. A sacrifice fly RBI by Second baseman Reegie Corona extended the lead to 5-2. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez capped off the scoring in the inning for Trenton with a two-run home run. Trenton has scored a total of 12 runs in the second inning during the three games of the series. The Thunder added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Corona had an RBI double in the sixth inning, and Vechionacci picked up an RBI ground out in the seventh.

Trenton took a 1-0 lead in the first inning with two outs against McNiven. Vazquez reached base on an error by Connecticut Shortstop Brandon Crawford. The error was Crawford’s second of the first inning. His second error of the frame, allowed Corona to score from second base. Gonzalez had two doubles in the win for the Thunder.

Trenton Starting Pitcher Kanekoa Texeira (7-5) pitched a season-high five innings to pick up the win. It was his first win as a starter for the Thunder. He also had a season-high seven strikeouts. Texeira scattered four hits and two unearned runs. Texeira is tied for the team lead in wins with Thunder Reliever Josh Schmidt. Trenton’s bullpen combined to toss four shutout innings. In the last 10 games, the bullpen has allowed a total of three runs over 42 2/3 innings. McNiven allowed seven hits and seven runs (six earned) in 1 2/3 innings to take the loss for Connecticut.

Trenton and Connecticut wrap up their four-game series on Monday morning. LHP Wilkin De La Rosa (3-4, 3.81) will start for Trenton against Connecticut RHP Garrett Broshuis (1-0, 0.00) Game time is set for 10:35 am.

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Post Your Report Cards

July 12, 2009

report-card-3 So I did a 100-game report card in 2008

And two separate ones this year…

One for the position players

And one for the pitchers

But I don’t see any from you guys.  So now it’s your turn.  What grades would you give to the players on the 2009 Trenton Thunder?  Post your report cards in the comments…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

It’s Report Card Time (Pitchers)

July 12, 2009

With the All-Star break approaching, I gave out my entirely meaningless grades to the position players on this year’s Trenton Thunder. 

Now, the pitchers will be subject to my report cards…

#14 Wilkins Arias

An undersized southpaw, Arias has been solid, but unspectacular for the Thunder this season.  Arias’ role now will likely be similar to one he’d fill down the road, a middle reliever.  He averages around a strikeout an inning, but relies on finesse more than he does power.  With a lack of organizational depth when it comes to left-handed pitching, Arias will continue to see opportunities.

All-Star Break Grade: C

#22 Jeremy Bleich

Bleich receives a generous incomplete after three so-so starts. 

All-Star Break Grade: INC

#15 Wilkin de la Rosa

De La Rosa is currently the second best starter the Thunder have right now.  While he’s been better than his losing record and ERA near four would indicate, there’s still certainly room for improvement.  Often victimized by one poor inning, he’s also been prone to giving up the longball, as his nine allowed in just 52 innings are a team high.  A member of the Yankees 40-man roster, he’ll need to develop his secondary stuff a little more in order to keep progressing through the system.

All-Star Break Grade: B-

#57 Grant Duff

While I’m sure you all can’t get enough of that wonderful Duff, he’s only made one appearance with the club so far.

All-Star Break Grade: INC

#19 Mike Dunn

He’s left-handed and he’s got power stuff.  It would be hard not to see Mike Dunn wearing Yankee pinstripes at some point in the future.  This season, Dunn has been outstanding at times, and leads the team in strikeouts (76) despite only throwing 53.1 innings.  The occasional inconsistent outing aside, Dunn will likely need to improve his curveball a little more in order to keep hitters from sitting on that fastball, which can look a little flat at times.  But Dunn has a special arm, and likely isn’t long for Trenton.

All-Star Break Grade: B

#56 Zach McAllister

Make no mistake about it, Zach McAllister doesn’t have one standout offering.  His fastball sits in the low 90’s, and his secondary stuff is decent.  But his ability to throw everything for strikes — to really command and pound the zone — is what’s led to his success this season.  Manager Tony Franklin recently told reporters that McAllister’s heart beats at the same pace regardless of the situation, both on and off the field, and that’s an accurate assessment.  He’s rarely rattled on the mound, and shows little emotion off of it.  He’d be well suited to stay with the Thunder for the remainder of the season…but that’s only if he isn’t dealt away first.  His success is no secret among other teams in the game — just ask the scouts who pack the seats behind the plate to watch him — and he may be available when it comes time for the Yankees to deal in a few weeks.

All-Star Break Grade: A-

#20 Ryan Pope

Pope likes to say that “stuff” happens after starts sometimes, and unfortunately, it’s happened to him on more than one occasion this year.  Finally starting to show signs of turning his season around in May during a strong start against Portland, Pope skipped a start and hasn’t seemed to be right since.  Eastern League hitters are batting nearly .300 against him, numbers that certainly weren’t helped by a recent start in which he got rocked to the tune of 11 runs.  But Pope does have the stuff to turn things around, and a strong second half will be very important if the Thunder want to make a run for their third straight championship.

All-Star Break Grade: D+

#41 Josh Schmidt

It would be hard to ask for anything more out of Josh Schmidt this season.  One year after being underused and essentially discarded after starting the year in Trenton, Schmidt came back with a passion and has been virtually unhittable thanks to a slow curve that’s baffled the league.  With a fastball that doesn’t crack 90, Schmidt’s been one of the most effective relievers in the league, earning a nod to the All-Star Game that nobody would have predicted at the start of the year.  The development of his slider will be key to his success at the Triple-A level, as experienced hitters may be apt to crush that curveball.

All-Star Break Grade: A-

#50 Kanekoa Texeira

Tex has done a great job for the Thunder this year in a variety of roles, especially considering the 59.2 innings he’s thrown so far this year leaves him 1.1 inning short of his career high.  His 11 decisions (6-5) lead the team, and it’s a number that will likely only increase given his current role of spot starter.  Ideally, Texeira is best suited as a middle reliever or long man, and perhaps is being used in this current role to groom him for the latter role down the road.  Stuff-wise, he’s relatively unspectacular, and allows his fair share of baserunners, but is more than capable of minimizing any damage.  The personable Hawaii native has been a key part of the bullpen this year, and ultimately that’s where he should likely return before the end of the season.

All-Star Break Grade: B-

#53 Jose Valdez

“Projectable frame” comes to mind when thinking about Jose Valdez.  The tall and thin reliever can still bring some heat to the plate despite being undersized, and might be able to add a tick or two to his fastball with a little more bulk.  While his fastball is unquestionably his best pitch, his secondary stuff could use some refinement before he sticks at Scranton, where he’s already received a brief look this year.

All-Star Break Grade: B

#21 Kevin Whelan

A frequent target of criticism here last year, Whelan has made great strides towards become a better and more consistent pitcher.  And perhaps that’s just it…he seems to have become more of a pitcher than a thrower, which is what he seemed to be when he first joined the Thunder in 2007.  Whelan has not only cut down on the walks, but has allowed just one home run in nearly 50 innings of work.  Once teetering on the verge of topping out at Double-A, an eventual promotion to Scranton is hardly out of the question.  He’ll go as far as his split-finger fastball takes him, however.

All-Star Break Grade: B-

#54 Eric Wordekemper

While often used in meaningless roles, Wordekemper has improved since last season as well, cutting down on his perennially high WHIP and therefore getting in less jams.  Although his stuff is relatively unremarkable, he does seem to get the job done, although his days of performing in the closer role seem to be done.  Ideally, Wordekemper would be used in a specialty role or as a seventh inning guy.  But right now, considering the organization recently found a way to place him on the disabled list with an “injury,” he’s likely happy with whatever innings he gets for the time being.

All-Star Break Grade: B+

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Notes! About Stuff!

July 12, 2009

— Jesus Montero was placed on the Temporarily Inactive List prior to yesterday’s game. Ryan Baker was called up from Staten Island to take his place. Montero will play in today’s Futures Game in St. Louis, and is not expected to rejoin the Thunder for their final game before the break on Monday. Baker is expected to be returned to Staten Island once Trenton resumes play on Thursday at home against Portland.

Montero is still expected to play in the Eastern League All-Star Game, to be held in Trenton, on Wednesday.

kroenke— Zach Kroenke (left) has been hot all year…like Flo from the Progressive commercials hot.  And now, the former Thunder reliever is being rewarded with a trip to the Triple-A All-Star Game.  Chad Jennings has the story.

Kroenke, who was selected by the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft but ultimately sent back to the Yankees, is 5-0 with an 0.95 ERA and one save in 21 appearances so far this year.

Last year, he went 7-0 between Trenton and Scranton, although 37 of his 41 outings came in Double-A.  It was a remarkable improvement from Kroenke’s 2007 stay with the Thunder, where he went 0-1 with a 9.42 ERA in 15 games.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com