As it seems is always the case, there’s some movement amongst prominent Thunder alumni. The Houston Astros traded former highly touted Trenton Thunder relief pitcher Mark Melancon to the Boston Red Sox today in exchange for INF Jed Lowrie and P Kyle Weiland.
Drafted in the ninth round by New York in 2006, Melancon overcame arm troubles to establish himself as one of the premier pitching prospects in the Yankees organization by the time he reached Trenton in 2008. All he did with the Thunder was post a sparkling 6-0 record with a 1.81 ERA in 19 outings, striking out 47 batters and walking just 12 in 49 2/3 innings of work.
He was subsequently called up to Triple-A Scranton, which is where he ended 2008 and began 2009. Melancon was called up to the Yankees several times that season, but struggled with control at times, both walking and striking out ten batters in 16 2/3 frames. He made two appearances for New York in 2010, but was primarily stuck in Scranton before being traded in the Lance Berkman deal on July 31.
Melancon pitched well in his first extended big league stint, going 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in 20 appearances with the Astros at the tail end of 2010. But he established himself as a big leaguer for the first time last season, emerging as Houston’s closer in a largely overlooked campaign in which he made a career-high 71 appearances. In 74 1/3 innings, the 26-year-old went 8-4 with a 2.78 ERA and 20 saves, a bright spot on an atrocious team.
He now finds himself in Boston with an opportunity to compete for the closer’s job, depending on how the free agent market and the status of Daniel Bard plays out.
Also, former Thunder standout starter Andrew Brackman (left) has signed a deal with his hometown Cincinnati Reds after being let go by the Yankees. Brackman — who’s featured in my favorite interview I ever did with him here — was a disappointment after being selected in the first round by the Yankees, but he would always show flashes of the talent that got him picked there.
The 6-foot-10 righty’s best stint was, coincidentally, with Trenton. He went 5-7 with a 3.01 ERA in 15 appearances with the club in 2010 — not including a stellar postseason run — but struggled so mightily last year that there was a lot of debate as to whether he’d get sent back down from Triple-A Scranton. Ultimately, the friendly big man turned things around and earned his second big league September call-up, and finally made his MLB debut.
He appeared in three games with the Yankees, spinning 2 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing one hit and walking three. Brackman is not listed on the Reds 40-man roster, so this is presumably a minor league deal.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com