It was a busy homestand for the Thunder as they played back-to-back series with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Altoona Curve, Blue Jays and Pirates affiliates, respectively. I have included what I saw about all three teams. I only have Dalton Pompey down for New Hampshire, as he was the only real player of note that New Hampshire rolled out. I wasn't able to see Pirates uber-prospect Tyler Glasnow either, as his spot in the rotation came up after Altoona left town. Such is life.
Greg Bird - Bird reached peak Bird-ness (walks, hits, RBIs, dingers) this week and it resulted in a well-deserved promotion to Scranton. When Bird is right, he can go the other way and take walk after walk. His plate discipline is nuts. He's mastered Double-A and now he's one Mark Teixeira injury away from pinstripes. Bird is the word. He had one mental error in the field that ended up costing the team a run, but his defense is markedly improving and shouldn't be a major issue moving forward.
Gary Sanchez - Sanchez looked anxious at the plate after coming off the shelf. He'd been on the DL with a bad bruise to this throwing hand that he suffered on a foul tip. He was swinging at junk, and swinging for the fences on everything. That strategy worked on Friday when he nearly took out the left field light tower a la The Natural. Between that and his cannon of an arm, that's why he's going to the Futures Game.
Jake Cave - Cave had himself a little slump this week, but that's far from a reason to get down on him. He's still one of the rangiest center fielders in the Eastern League, and when he's right, he's got a sweet-looking line drive swing. He's a true leadoff hitter and I'd be shocked if he didn't see some time in the Bronx next year.
Mark Payton - It's been a quick ascension to Double-A for Payton, and he's still adjusting to the pitching after being drafted in the seventh round last year. Payton might be a little smaller than his listed height of five-foot-eight, but that doesn't stop him from being a balls-to-wall player that encapsulates the word "gritty." He plays all three outfield positions and plays them well. Don't expect a ton of homers from Payton, but if he can hit for fair average he's a bench player at the very least.
Tony Renda - Good: Tony Renda has walked in 11.8% of his plate appearances since being traded into the Yankees system. Bad: Renda has a .297 slugging percentage in that time. Good: Renda has a knack for making crazy diving plays at second base. Bad: Renda has trouble completing routine throws to first and every time he gets the ball, it's an adventure. Good: Renda is well aware of these issues and he puts in a lot of work to try to fix them. Verdict: If Renda makes the Majors, it will probably as a bench player. He's got a long way to go, however. Who knows?
Eric Ruth - Ruth was impressive once again on Monday against the FisherCats. The small right-hander tossed 6.1 innings of one-run ball, and that lone run was the result of a pair of defensive miscues in the infield. It's getting to the point that Ruth has very little left to prove here in Double-A. He didn't even have his usual pinpoint control this time out and it took some bad defense for New Hampshire to scratch a run off of him.
Brady Lail - Lail struck out four in six innings of one-run ball, and only issued one walk. He struggled with command on his curveball early, but rebounded to put together an excellent outing. I was surprised to see that Lail didn't make the All-Star team, but he's probably the first in line for a replacement selection. He's one of the best in the Eastern League.
Kyle Haynes - Haynes just didn't have it in his outing on Sunday against New Hampshire, and he didn't have it on Friday against Altoona either. None of his pitches were fooling anyone and he worked much slower than his usual pace. Manager Al Pedrique voiced displeasure with Haynes' effort following Sunday's game and that's never a good sign. A recently converted reliever, Haynes has decent stuff, but will need to bring some consistency to his game if he wants to remain a starter.
Nick Goody - I'm 90% sure that Goody could get men out in the bigs right now. He's that filthy. The Thunder ran him out there for two innings in Tuesday's extra-inning win and he retired all six men he faced, striking out the last five. At long last, he's being promoted to Scranton after making Double-A baseball look like easy mode.
Blue Jays Impressions
Dalton Pompey - Oh boy. Pompey just looks like a good ballplayer. He's got the speed, he's got the swing. He was also ejected for arguing balls and strikes in a Double-A baseball game after starting in center field for the Blue Jays on opening day. And after he was done yelling at the umpire, he got into it with a fan in the stands. Not a good look for Pompey. The Blue Jays have to be hoping these apparent makeup issues work themselves out.
Josh Bell - The Altoona manager must be awfully fond of bunts. On Wednesday, in two different plate appearances with runners on first and second, Bell struck out on foul bunts. It's mind-boggling to even consider asking one of the best pure hitters (probably the second best behind Austin Meadows) to lay down a bunt, much less with two strikes. The minors are more about development than winning, but... come on. Either way, Bell is very good and he's gonna be a big leaguer.
Max Moroff - Moroff is one of the best defensive second basemen I've seen. He's very rangy and when combined with his quick arm, he makes fielding look easy. He's also pretty competent with the stick and consistently hit second for Altoona. The presence of Neil Walker, Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison and Jung Ho Kang on the big league roster make for an interesting bit of blockage in his ascendance to the show, but if all else fails he's a fascinating trade chip.
Trenton's next homestand begins on the 10th, when the Giants-affiliated Richmond Flying Squirrels come to town for four games. They've got a couple interesting prospects in starters Adalberto Mejia and Tyler Beede.
Nicolas Stellini is a staff writer at Pinstripe Alley, where he writes about the Yankees and covers the Double-A Trenton Thunder. His national coverage can be found at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.