24 David Adams R/R, 6-2, 190, 24 y/o
2011 stats: Tampa; .308/0/4. GCL; .429/1/11.
2012 forecast: Adams will likely be the most scrutinized player on the Thunder this season. Well, perhaps moreso his right ankle, anyway. Once a highly touted infield prospect, Adams’ career was sidetracked in May of 2012 when he suffered a chip fracture in the aforementioned extremity. The extent injury was believed to kill a Jesus Montero deal (remember that guy?) at the time, but more importantly, but Adams’ future in doubt. Fast forward about two years, and he’s back in the home clubhouse at Waterfront Park, ready to prove that he’s still the same player, if not better. The Yankees seem to believe in him, as they placed him on their 40-man roster this off-season. But only time will tell if he can hold up as the team’s every day second baseman. And if he does, if he’ll be as good as he was in 2010.
25 Walter Ibarra S/R, 5-11, 175, 24 y/o
2011 stats: Tampa; .297/6/52
2012 forecast: Remember when Walter Ibarra was on the Trenton Thunder? It was all the way back in 2008, and even as a 20-year-old, he performed pretty well. Ibarra played second, third and short for Trenton and hit .268 in 18 games. He was a fill-in called up from Staten Island, and still need a lot of polish to his game before he ever got back. It took him a while — he spent the last three seasons in Tampa — but he’s finally here. Ibarra, and not Jose Pirela, will be the team’s regular shortstop.
15 Rob Lyerly L/R, 6-1, 200, 24 y/o
2011 stats: Trenton; .246/4/34. Tampa; .315/4/46
2012 forecast: Lyerly is a corner infielder who will probably see a lot of time as a designated hitter this year. He performed well at the plate in Tampa, but struggled both with the bat and the glove once he got to Trenton. He’ll need to improve significantly in both sides of his game to continue progressing through the system. He took some reps at first base on Tuesday, so that could be an option as well.
17 Addison Maruszak R/R, 6-1, 190, 25 y/o
2011 stats: Trenton; .244/7/47
2012 forecast: Versatility is a blessing and curse for Maruszak, who played a variety of positions for Trenton last season, including catcher. While it seems unlikely he’ll get behind the plate again, Maruszak already profiles as a utility type instead of having a true spot. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used this year, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get another opportunity in Triple-A.
11 Yadil Mujica L/R, 6-1, 170, 27 y/o
2011 stats: Trenton; .233/1/14
2012 forecast: It’s hard to really see Mujica having much of a future with the organization. He’s 27 years old, is returning to Trenton for a second year, and didn’t really do much last year. There’s been speculation that Mujica could be an odd man out when the roster gets trimmed down. If he does stick, he’ll probably seem some time in the middle of the infield on occasion, and could spell Adams if he needs to rest his ankle.
10 Ronnier Mustelier R/R, 5-10, 210, 27 y/o
2011 stats: Tampa; .333/3/24
2012 forecast: The Trenton Thunder, now 100 percent more Ronnier! Although, just like Mujica, Mustelier is 27 years old, he’s a more interesting case. Mustelier was sent to the Arizona Fall League this off-season, and could have an outside chance at a future with the organization, but he needs to move quick. He played all three outfield positions last year, but also some second and third. Seems the stocky Cuban-born Mustelier will stick to the infield for now.
28 Jose Pirela R/R, 5-11, 210, 22 y/o
2011 stats: Trenton; 239/8/45
2012 forecast: Pirela is likely thankful that his error total isn’t included in last year’s stat line. While Lyerly tied a franchise record with four in one game, Pirela made 39 of them all season, which set a franchise record. Last year, he was the starting shortstop. This year, he’ll be on the bench.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com // Twitter: Mashmore98