Farm system recap: Double-A Trenton Thunder

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The Thunder were coming off consecutive Eastern League titles, but after their best hitter went down in August, any chance of a three-peat went out the window. They finished 69-72, good for third in the Northern Division.

As you might recall, Jesus Montero was promoted to Trenton after 48 games in A-ball. Montero didn't quite match his mammoth offensive output in Tampa (hitting .317/.370/.539, good for the 11th best OPS), but what should be noted is that he was at least three years younger than anyone in the top 10. More encouraging than his offense, though, was his much improved defense. He caught 33 games (DH'ed 11) and threw out 14 of 44 potential base-stealers (32%), committed no errors, and allowed eight passed balls. Considering he gunned down only 13% of base-stealers in Tampa, 32% was a huge improvement, as was his flawless fielding percentage (though the eight passed balls are still way too many). He suffered a fractured hand while catching on August 1, missing the rest of Trenton's season.

He recovered enough to play with the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League. He didn't hit at all (.322 OPS), but he only played in nine games (26 AB), so take it with a shaker of salt.

Mexican-league refugee, Jorge Vazquez, quietly had a phenomenal year with Trenton. The reason you don't hear more about him is that he's 27. Regardless, the first-baseman hit .329/.357/.578 in 56 games.

22-year-old Reegie (don't call me 'Reggie') Corona had his best season since joining the organization in 2004. The reason was his career-high .397 OBP (.287 BA, .397 SLG). In fact, the switch-hitting second-baseman had more walks (56) than K's (50). Corona can run too: 118 SB, 28 CS in six years. He's never going to hit enough to be an everyday player, but he could definitely be a good utility infielder in the future (though Ramiro Pena seems to have that locked up for the time being).

A pitcher that surprisingly never comes up in trade talks (despite being among the Yankees top three prospects) is 21-year-old Zach McAllister (photo). The 6'6" right-hander had the best season by a Yankee pitcher in the whole minor league system: 121 ip, 2.23 ERA, 96 K, 33 BB, 1.08 WHIP. He's a sinker-baller - a good comp for him is Jake Westbrook, and that's probably what Z-Mac will turn into: a solid, middle-of-the-rotation workhorse.

Another sinker-baller is Dominican-native Ivan Nova. Like Z-Mac, his best assets are durability and getting ground-balls. The 22-year-old averaged 129 innings over the last three years, and has allowed only 26 homers in 430.1 pro innings. In Trenton, he threw 72.1 innings with a 2.36 ERA. Pitching to contact, he doesn't get many K's (just 47, for a 5.8/9 rate) - such a low K-rate may eventually hurt him. Actually, it did hurt him after his promotion to Scranton, when his ERA ballooned to 5.10.

26-year-old Josh Schmidt had one of the best seasons for a reliever in the system: 83.2 ip, 1.61 ERA, 96 K, 38 BB, 1.14 WHIP. His 'stuff' isn't great, but he gets results. Schmidt has a chance to help the Yanks bullpen in the next few years.

2010 guesstimates:

Pretty simple. Everyone mentioned, save for Jesus, will start in Scranton. Montero will join them soon after if he shows no ill-effects from his fractured hand.

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