Archive for May 1st, 2011

Johnson’s Splashing Smash Not Enough In Thunder Loss

May 1, 2011

(PR) (Trenton, NJ) – The Trenton Thunder (10-13) dropped the third and final game of a three-game set with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (12-9) 5-3 Sunday afternoon at Waterfront Park. Cody Johnson smacked a long, solo homerun and Bradley Suttle drove in his eleventh and twelfth runs of the season for the Thunder in the loss.

For the third time in as many nights, the Thunder would strike first against the Fisher Cats. Cody Johnson drove New Hampshire starter Zach Stewart’s first pitch of the bottom of the second inning over the scoreboard in right-centerfield, giving the Thunder a 1-0 lead. It was Johnson’s second homerun and eighth RBI of the 2011 season.

Trenton entered the bottom of the eighth trailing 5-1 after the Fisher Cats scored three times in the top half of the frame, but the Thunder would answer right back. With Austin Krum at third and Corban Joseph at second base, Bradley Suttle lined a pitch from New Hampshire reliever Alan Farina into centerfield, scoring both runners and cutting the lead to 5-3.

Shaeffer Hall was the tough-luck loser for the Thunder, as he continues to pitch well early in the 2011 campaign. The lefty allowed two runs in six innings in his fifth start of the season.  

The Thunder begin a four-game homestand with the Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox) Monday at 7:05 PM as the team continues its seven-game homestand. Trenton will give the pearl to RHP Craig Heyer (1-2, 2.08), and Heyer will face Portland’s Brock Huntzinger (2-2, 6.61). The SBLI Pre-Game Show with Jay Burnham and Hank Fuerst begins at 6:45 PM. Tune-in to the game on 91.3 WTSR-FM and on

The first 1,000 fans six and older to Monday’s game will receive Mercer County Souvenir Travel Cups in the second installment of the Thunder’s Souvenir Travel Cup series. Call the Thunder Box Office at 609-394-3300 or log on to to reserve your seats today.

A Evening With Nardi Contreras

May 1, 2011

Well, not quite.  But I was fortunate enough to spend about ten minutes sitting in the home dugout with him before yesterday’s game at Waterfront Park, and the always friendly and talkative Yankees Minor League Pitching Coordinator and former major leaguer provided his insight on many of the organization’s young arms…

Note: Contreras told me prior to the interview that he had only seen Tampa and Scranton so far this season…this was his second day in Trenton, he saw Dellin Betances’ start the previous night.

On who stood out for him in Tampa: “I saw Brett Marshall.  He pitched really well, threw five shutout innings of strong ball.  In the sixth inning, he got tired and gave up a couple hits and was taken out.  I saw (Chase) Whitley throw the baseball really well, the reliever.  (Sean) Black threw the ball well while I was there.  (Jairo) Heredia was hurt.  Romanski pitched the ball really well.  He’s something like (Shaeffer) Hall, the same type of pitcher.  He’s done well.”

On Marshall: “He’s able to control his pitches, and his changeup has been really good.  He’s developed his slider, so now he’s throwing his slider really well.  He’s becoming more of a three pitch guy instead of a two pitch guy with a fastball and change, now he has that slider and it’s coming along really well.”

On pitcher velocity: “I never even worry about velo’s.  I look at delivery, I look at stuff, and pretty much I’ll be able to tell if his stuff was good without the velo.”

On Betances: “Dellin was there for his first time out in however many days with his blister.  He did well, he was really strong with his first three innings.  He was throwing fastballs right by them.  I don’t think he used many changeups or curveballs because they weren’t able to do anything with his fastball.  He threw a couple nice little curveballs a little later, and a couple nice changeups.  He’s got a power changeup and he’s got a power curveball.  In the fourth inning, he hit his pitch limit that I had for him, and it’s good that he did.  His last pitch was the first time they got a base hit off of him.  Like always with Dellin, we’ve got to continue to work on his delivery, but no ill effects with the finger.  He was better than I thought I was going to see.  He threw more strikes, he was downhill, much better than I expected.”

On comparing Betances and Banuelos in their development: “Well, I think Banuelos is probably just a little bit ahead of Betances.  His parts are smaller and it’s easier to control, where Betances is 6-foot-8, has long arms and body and legs.  With Banuelos, he’s able to locate his pitches out there and he still has a plus curveball and he has a plus changeup.  It’ll be a matter of time for Banuelos.  We’ve just got to make sure he stays healthy, especially when it’s cold up here, we’re not going to extend him until a little later.”

On if, stuff-wise, Banuelos is Major League ready: “Stuff-wise, he’s better than the majority of the pitchers in the big leagues.  When you’re able to throw a baseball like he can…he’s got life with his fastball, he’s got a plus curveball and a plus changeup.  It’s just learning how to pitch with command, not just control but command.”

On what Betances needs to do to stay on the right path in relation to Banuelos: “Just stay healthy, that’s just the biggest thing.  He’s going to throw harder than Banuelos.  His breaking ball is better, his changeup is better.  He’s got a lot of power.  Just stay healthy and keep his delivery together.”

On what he saw that he liked in Scranton: “I saw (David) Phelps pitch seven innings, he gave up two runs, he pitched well.  Really well.  I was happy to see him do well, because he kind of struggled a bit in spring training.  He’s not where he needs to be, but he’s getting closer and closer.  (Andrew) Brackman, he pitched six or seven innings and gave up one or two runs.  He’s not throwing the ball as hard as he did last year at the beginning of the season, but he started off the season the same way last year in Tampa.  I don’t know if it warms up or whatever, but he starts throwing the ball really hard.  His curveball is very good, his slider was very good.  He still needs to develop his changeup.  He’s coming along.  D.J. Mitchell, I saw him pitch my last day there.  He came in for Millwood.  D.J. pitched six shutout innings, mixing his plus curveball, plus changeup and plus sinker.  He’s coming along well.  Adam Warren, he didn’t fare well…well, one pitch.  He gave up a three run homer on a high changeup, but his changeup has become a power changeup and his curveball, he needs to use it more.  His slider, he needs to use it more.  He controls his fastball on both sides of the plate.  (Hector) Noesi, he had just gotten down from the big leagues, it had been 17 days since he’d been in a game, so he wasn’t very good.”

On which Scranton starter he feels is furthest along: “Phelpsy.  He’s further along than anybody else right now.  But he still not there to really help us succeed at the Major League level.  But he’s getting closer.”

On if he feels Banuelos is the best arm in the organization right now: “Best arm?  No.  Betances has got the best arm.  He’s got a stronger arm.  He throws the ball harder than anybody else, when we’re talking about starters.  He’s got the best curveball in the organization and he’s got the best changeup in the organization.  He’s 22, I think, and Banuelos is 20.  They both are pretty good.”

On extended spring training: “Alan Horne’s there, he’s doing sides of 35, and (Jeremy) Bleich is doing sides at 35.  Today, (Grant) Duff pitched an inning in an extended spring game.  So he’s on his way.  According to Greg Pavlik, he threw the ball very well.  He had good feel and threw a very good split.  There’s some real good arms there.  This kid named Bryan Mitchell, he’s exciting.  Taylor Morton, exciting.  Gabe Encinas is exciting.  Those are three off the top of my head that are projected really high, they’re really good.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Bleich Continuing Rehab

May 1, 2011

Jeremy Bleich hasn't pitched since May 16, 2010. He tells me he's getting closer to a return from shoulder surgery.

So, I’m off today…but I will have Nardi Contreras’ comments posted sometime this afternoon.

In addition, I exchanged a few messages with Jeremy Bleich, who is currently down in extended spring training in Tampa.

Bleich confirmed Nardi’s comments that he’s been throwing 35 pitch sides, but did add an important note as well…Bleich has been using all of his pitches; fastball, curveball and changeup. That can only be considered a good sign as the personable young southpaw makes his way back from a shoulder issue.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Gil Assigned To Trenton; Rye Released

May 1, 2011

Jose Gil returns to Trenton after appearing in 6 games with Triple-A Scranton this season.

(PR) (Trenton, NJ) – The Trenton Thunder, Double-A Affiliate of the New York Yankees, announce that catcher Jose Gil has been added to the active roster from Triple-A Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre.  In a corresponding move, the Yankees have released OF Jack Rye from the organization. 
Gil joins the Thunder after starting the year at Triple-A Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre as the backup catcher. With the SWB-Yankees Gil batted .250 in six games behind the plate. Gil played 31 games in 2010 witht the Thunder and hit .236 with 5 home runs and 25 RBI. 
Rye, who was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 13th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, appeared in eight games with the Thunder this season and picked-up four hits in 24 at bats, including a solo homerun.    
The Thunder continue a seven-game homestand with their 5th Annual Bark at the Park presented by Dogs & Cats Rule, Sunday afternoon at 1:05 PM. Limited tickets are available by contacting the Thunder box office at
609-394-3300 or online at