The Trenton Thunder held their annual Welcome North Open House event yesterday, giving fans the opportunity to watch batting practice and then meet and get autographs from the members of this year’s team.
Four of the New York Yankees’ Top 30 prospects (as ranked by Baseball America) will start the year in Trenton.
Catcher Gary Sanchez is regarded as the organization’s best prospect and is on the 40-man roster.
Outfielder Mason Williams is ranked number three in the Yankees’ system.
Pitcher Bryan Mitchell, also on the 40-man roster, is ranked #21 and is scheduled to start on Opening Night tomorrow.
Infielder Rob Refsnyder is ranked #29.
This is the first time that I got to go, but a couple of friends who have attended in previous years said that the crowd is usually bigger. That turned out to be a good thing, allowing me to get nearly everything I’d brought with me signed even though the players were broken up into groups of three or four at different spots on the field.
Tony Franklinwill return for his 8th season as the manager of the Trenton Thunder, the team announced today. The Eastern League Manager of the Year in 2012, Franklin won his third league title last year and holds the franchise record for most managerial victories and most games managed.
“Tony Franklin is a great asset to the Thunder and our community,” said Thunder General Manager Will Smith in a press release. “The success that we’ve enjoyed on the field during his tenure is unprecedented and we’re excited to see Tony back to defend last season’s championship.”
Tommy Phelps, who played for the Florida Marlins from 2003-04 and the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005, will return for his sixth season as Trenton’s pitching coach.
The rest of the coaching staff will have a different look to it in 2014.
Ten-year major league veteran Marcus Thames is the new Thunder hitting coach. Although he spent most of his career with the Detroit Tigers, he made his major league debut with the New York Yankees in 2002 and returned near the end to play a role on the 2010 playoff team.
Longtime backup catcher Orlando Mercado, who played for the Seattle Mariners (1982-1984), Texas Rangers (1986), Detroit Tigers (1987), Los Angeles Dodgers (1987), Oakland Athletics (1988), Minnesota Twins (1989), New York Mets (1990), and Montreal Expos (1990), will also join the Thunder coaching staff.
The Bears will miss Alvino, who was hitting .282 with one home run and 10 RBI in 38 games. Orlando Mercado was not much of an offensive force for Rockland, batting just .158 over 25 games. He does offer some power – 8 of his 13 hits have been for extra bases. (I’m still trying to figure out if he’s related to the 1980s Major League Baseball catcher with the same name.)
Julian Sampson began the season in Rockland’s rotation, but was moved to the bullpen at the end of June. He has a 3-3 record with a 4.91 ERA, and should offer a solid upgrade over Caleb Cuevas in the Bears’ rotation if Newark manager Ken Oberkfell opts to go that route.