#30, RP, RHP, Cory Arbiso
Arbiso was one of the more surprising names on the Trenton roster, given the fact that he was 22nd rounder in 2008 and will have skipped High-A Tampa entirely. He’s got a 4-10 career record with a 4.55 ERA in 132.2 innings of work, but he wouldn’t have made it this far if the Yankees organization didn’t see something in him…right? He made 12 starts out of his 33 overall appearances last year, so he could be a candidate for spot start duty, but will likely serve as a middle/long reliever out of the bullpen.
#31, RP, LHP, Wilkins Arias
Arias was a surprise invite to big league camp, but returns for another season at Double-A Trenton. 29 years old — not 21 as the media guide suggests — he is quickly running out of time to make an impression on the organization, as the non-descript southpaw has yet to crack Triple-A. His role may be diminished with the move of Wilkin De La Rosa to the bullpen as well.
#19, SP, LHP, Jeremy Bleich
Bleich came to the Thunder with a lot of fanfare last season, but ultimately struggled and didn’t come close to fulfilling his potential. But the organization still believes in one of their most prized pitching prospects, and he’ll open the season as Trenton’s third starter. Don’t be surprised to see Bleich in competition with Ryan Pope and Christian Garcia for the first starting pitching promotion to Scranton.
#34, RP, RHP, Noel Castillo
I shudder when I see this name, but after a rough Double-A debut that saw him post an 11.25 ERA in six games up here last year, Noel Castillo returns to Trenton. He put together a very solid season in High-A Tampa, and there’s no reason to think he couldn’t replicate that in 2010 in Double-A.
#20, RP, LHP, Wilkin De La Rosa
A member of the Yankees 40-man roster, De La Rosa will at least begin the season coming out of the bullpen. There are a wide variety of theories as to why…the organization could be protecting his arm after he experienced discomfort in it towards the end of last season, or they may want to see if he can handle the bullpen on the way to being fast tracked through the system. Lending some credence to the latter, word is De La Rosa could be used as a situational lefty at times.
#58, RP, RHP, Grant Duff
Somewhat surprisingly unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft, Duff comes into 2010 looking to force the Yankees hand into adding him to their 40-man roster. He made huge strides in 2009, and you can’t teach the kind of arm strength he has. He’ll serve as the team’s primary closer to start the season, and may not last long in Trenton.
#45, SP, RHP, Christian Garcia
In my opinion, Garcia is the name to watch on the pitching staff this season. He was lights out in Trenton last season before once again getting injured, and all expectations are that he’ll be just as good, if not better, in 2010. It was not a fluke that he was protected on the 40-man roster throughout his injuries, and the organization is still very high on him. Garcia will take the ball for the Thunder tomorrow on Opening Day, and may only need to make a few starts before moving up a level. Do not be surprised to see him in pinstripes this season.
#14, SP, RHP, D.J. Mitchell
Mitchell is an exciting prospect who has moved quickly through the system, especially for someone who’s only been pitching for the past few years. An engaging personality with a bit of a southern drawl, the 22-year-old’s stock continues to head north. He’ll start the season as Thunder’s fifth starter, but could be someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
#37, RP, RHP, Lance Pendleton
Pendleton somewhat surprisingly starts the season in the bullpen after enjoying a successful 2009 with Tampa and Trenton in the starting rotation. It seems to be a case of too many arms for not enough spots, as…while he certainly wasn’t outstanding with the Thunder last season, he didn’t pitch his way out of a spot, either.
#35, SP, RHP, David Phelps
Phelps is somewhat overlooked in prospect circles, but that may change if he can keep up his torrid pace. Making his fourth stop in three seasons, the 23-year-old has a 21-6 career record with a 2.49 ERA. It took just seven starts in Tampa last year — where he went 3-1 with a 1.17 ERA — to propel Phelps to Double-A for 2010. The team’s number four starter, Phelps should spend the majority of the season in Trenton.
#22, SP, RHP, Ryan Pope
Pope entered last season as the Thunder’s fourth starter, and begins this one as the number two. Once he and Tommy Phelps adjusted his tempo on the mound, Pope improved considerably and he experienced a increase in velocity as well. Pope is determined to show that he wasn’t the pitcher everyone saw in the first half of last year, and hopes to build off of what he did in the second half and spring training.
#41, RP, RHP, Josh Schmidt
Schmidt returns despite an All-Star season in 2009 that saw him post a microscopic 1.61 ERA. Usually the most talkative guy on the team, Schmidt was curiously and understandably mum on the topic of his return at yesterday’s media day, and it’s safe to say he wants his arm to do the talking. He’ll enjoy a prominent role in the bullpen, and should be the first reliever called up. Should be…
#47, RP, RHP, Eric Wordekemper
Wordekemper returns to Trenton as well, and he actually got to Triple-A before Schmidt did, posting a 4.32 ERA and 2-0 record in 10 appearances there last season. But make no mistake about it, Wordekemper was one of the more reliable relievers in Trenton last year and earned his promotion, and is certainly in the conversation to go back up there this year as well.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com