19 Shaeffer Hall LHP 6-1, 205, 24 y/o.
2011 stats: Trenton; 26 GP, 24 GS. 10-8, 4.12 ERA, 1 SV.
2012 forecast: Hall will serve as the Thunder’s Opening Day starter this year, and a hot start to his season could earn him another promotion to Triple-A. Hall is probably the most polished pitcher among the five in the rotation to start the season, and could see significant time with the Empire State Yankees depending on how things play out with the big league pitching staff.
31 Craig Heyer RHP 6-3, 210, 26 y/o.
2011 stats: Trenton; 28 GP, 24 GS. 10-9, 4.54 ERA.
2012 forecast: Heyer has shown that he can be a versatile member of the pitching staff in Trenton. He also has shown a bit of a propensity for repeating levels (he spent two years in Tampa and this is his second in the capital city), which does him no favors considering he enters the season at the age of 26. Once highly regarded enough to be sent to the Arizona Fall League, this is a big season for Heyer in the Yankees organization. Solid but not spectacular, he’ll need to be better this year if he’s going to get a regular turn in the rotation.
21 Brett Marshall RHP 5-11, 200, 22 y/o.
2011 stats: Tampa; 27 GP, 26 GS. 9-7, 3.78 ERA.
2012 forecast: If you’re buying your tickets this year based on the staring pitcher, Marshall is the kid you’re paying to see. Regarded as the biggest prospect on the Thunder, at least to start the season, the 22-year-old will be the team’s third starter to open the year. He possesses a low-to-mid 90′s fastball and a slider, but pitching coach Tommy Phelps seemed most impressed with his changeup. He’ll make his Double-A debut in the day game Saturday against another top pitching prospect, Deck McGuire.
23 Josh Romanski LHP 6-0, 185, 25 y/o.
2011 stats: Trenton; 13 GP, 1 GS. 0-1, 2.04 ERA. Tampa; 17 GP, 17 GS. 7-5, 3.16 ERA.
2012 forecast: Romanski opens the season as the Thunder’s fifth starter, and is slated to take the ball for the first time on April 10. One of two lefties in the rotation, the easygoing California native will have a slightly lower arm slot in order to better attack left-handed hitters. It’s easy to see a scenario in which Romanski could be transitioned back to the bullpen, as he showed last season he can be effective as a reliever, and likely doesn’t have the stuff to continue progressing as a starter in the organization long-term. Then again, many said the same thing about Steve Garrison, and the Yankees insisted on using him every fifth day.
39 Graham Stoneburner RHP 6-0, 203, 24 y/o.
2011 stats: Trenton; 11 GP, 11 GS. 1-5, 4.17 ERA.
2012 forecast: David Adams isn’t the only member of this team who had somewhat of a lost 2011 season. Stoneburner began the year in Trenton, but made just a handful of starts before a neck/shoulder issue shut him down for the majority of the season. He made just 11 appearances in Trenton last season, and went from a fringy prospect to somewhat of an afterthought. But the 24-year-old will be given every opportunity to reclaim his status as an arm to watch as the second starter in the Thunder rotation.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com // Twitter: Mashmore98