The Trenton Thunder infield is considered one of the best in the Eastern League. Consisting of the…
Prospect Pulse: Stock Rising
SP, Phil Hughes, Charleston: When you're already ranked the #6 prospect as Hughes was this past offseason, there's not much room to move up. However, going 6-1 in first ten starts for the Charleston Riverdogs with a 1.62 ERA has surely risen his stock as a big-time prospect. In fact, among our top ten prospects this past offseason, Hughes is the only one that has done something to improve his stock compared to last season. Throw in the fact that he's allowing less than one base runner per inning (posting a 0.92 WHIP ratio), he's averaging better than one strikeout per inning, and that opposing South Atlantic League batters are hitting just .188 against, you can see why his stock is certainly on the rise!
RP, Paul Thorp, Tampa: Yes, 24-year old Thorp is a little old for the Florida State League. And sure, he doesn't get the notoriety of a high draft selection (drafted in the 31st round of the 2002 draft). But sooner or later people are going to have to sit up and take notice of the impressive numbers he has been posting. Entering the season with a 2.73 career ERA with 32 saves, Thorp has started the season with a 2.11 ERA and 12 saves with the Tampa Yankees. As solid as those numbers are, hidden is the fact that he has thrown 12 perfect relief appearances through his first 22 games this season!
CF, Tim Battle, Charleston: Let's get this out of the way right now. Despite leading off every time he has played this season, Battle is just not a leadoff hitter. He strikes out way too much (80 K's in his first 54 games) and his .348 on-base percentage leaves little to be desired atop the lineup. However, Battle's extra-base hit power and speed on the bases have been extraordinary this season. He's hitting .326 with runners in scoring position and his 29 extra-base hits are tied for second among the Yankees' prospects, just two behind Kevin Thompson's 31. Battle is looking like a Mike Cameron clone! Ranking #23 in our Top 50 Yankees' prospects this past offseason, Battle is skyrocketing towards the top of the list this season.
2B, Justin Christian, Tampa: Only a promotion from Charleston prevented Christian from leading the organization in runs scored through the first two months of the season. Christian, who was leading all Yankees' prospects in runs scored when he has promoted on May 18th, is a throwback player. He is an offensive catalyst that walks more than he strikes out and his speed is undeniable. At 25 years old, Christian showed pretty quickly that he was too old for the South Atlantic League and has begun to show the same in the Florida State League, hitting safely in 13 of his first 15 games with Tampa. His 22 stolen bases are four more than the entire Columbus team and he could find his way all the up to AA-Trenton before the 2005 season is over.
SP, Jeff Marquez, Charleston: Only Cano and Hughes have done better than Marquez among our Top 20 Yankees' Prospects in their first two months of the 2005 season. A disastrous start to the year, going 0-3 with a 9.28 ERA in his first three starts, has disguised just how good a season he has had thus far. Baseball is a game of adjustments and Marquez made a big one in the early going. Since going 0-3, Marquez has righted the ship in his last seven starts, going 4-2 with a 1.61 ERA. His stock is already on the rise. But if he can make one more big adjustment, improving his 5.01 ERA on the road this season, Marquez can make the leap into the elite Yankees' prospects.
1B, Shelly Duncan, Trenton: Shelly, who turns 26 years old in September, is not generally considered a true prospect because of his advanced years. But to say he has no shot at a Major League career would be a big mistake. He has improved his stock with a tremendous start to the 2005 season. Shelly hit .292 in the month of May with seven home runs to bring his home run total up to 14 on the year, tied for sixth in all of minor league baseball. He's tied for first in the Eastern League with RBI (38) and only teammate Kevin Thompson has more total bases with one more than Duncan.
OF, Kevin Thompson, Trenton: Leads the Yankees' farm system in extra-base hits (31) and is among the leaders in runs scored (38), doubles (21), and stolen bases (16). With Kevin Reese struggling as of late in Columbus, don't be surprised if the Yankees call-up Thompson should the need arise for an outfielder.
SP, Eric Hacker, Charleston: After missing the entire 2004 season, Hacker was promoted from Extended Spring Training to replace Brett Smith in the starting Charleston rotation. All Hacker has done is post a 0.63 ERA through his first five starts and help the Riverdogs not miss a beat after losing Smith.
RP, Mike Martinez, Charleston: Leading all minor league relievers in the Rolaids Relief Award through the first two months of the season, Martinez is not your typical closer. His job is to use his four-pitch repertoire to force batters put the ball in play and that's what he has done thus far, converting 17 out of 17 save opportunities.
Other Players With Their Stock On The Rise
RP, Jason Anderson, Columbus
RP, Ben Julianel, Trenton
SP, Matt DeSalvo, Trenton
RP, T.J. Beam, Charleston
RP, Josh Smith, Charleston
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