The most advanced part of the “Killer Bs,” Andrew Brackman (SP), has not had a good year in AAA and May was particularly ugly. He went 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA. He continues to strike batters out, picking up 20 Ks (36 on the season), but is struggling with walks, allowing 21 bases on balls (33 overall). David Phelps (SP) had a strong May, going 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA. He walked just seven and struck out 28. Perhaps one of the most notable performers of May, however, is Carlos Silva (SP) who can opt-out of his contract in mid-June. With Nova struggling, is it possible the veteran will make some starts in the Bronx? His first three starts in Scranton were solid. He has a 3.44 ERA over 18.1 innings pitched. He walked four, struck out eight and is holding batters to a .235 average.
Trenton Thunder (AA): Trenton had a strong May. They went 21-8, thanks in part to a nine game win streak. They sit just three games behind New Hampshire in their division, with a 31-20 record. The Thunder’s strength is clearly in their pitching, as they continue to put up mediocre hitting stats.
Austin Romine (C) has been the catalyst for a lot of the Thunder’s offense. He hit .296/.349/.378/.727 in May with a homer and fifteen RBIs. Addison Maruszak (1B) had a bad April, but seemed to turn the page in May. He hit .281/.381/.393/.774 with a couple homers and twelve RBIs. He has drawn twelve walks, but needs to wok on his baserunning. He picked up one stolen base and was caught six times. Melky Mesa (OF) has also put a disappointing April behind him. He hit .296/.367/.506/.873 in May with a couple homers, eleven RBIs and seven stolen bases (he was caught stealing four times).
Pitching has been the big story in the Thunder’s turn around. Both Dellin Betances (SP) and Manuel Banuelos (SP) returned from injuries to have strong Mays. Betances went 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA over his six stats. He walked fifteen and racked up 39 strikeouts while keeping hitters to a .212 average. Banuelos made five stats and went 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA over 24.1 innings of work. He walked sixteen, struck out 25 and held hitters to a .221 average.
It was starting to look like the Pat Venditte (RP) switch pitching experiment may have run its course when the reliever struggled in Trenton during April. Still, he likes to keep people guessing and put together an impressive May. In eleven appearances (23 innings pitched) he had a 1.57 ERA. He walked nine and struck out 22, holding hitters to a .210 average. Venditte has never been considered a true prospect, but something about him has me thinking you don’t want to count him out. Shaeffer Hall (SP) has been another strong arm for Trenton, and picked up EL Pitcher of the Week honors this past week. He put together two very strong outings, giving up just two runs on thirteen hits over thirteen innings. He didn’t issue a single walk and struck out eight.
Tampa Yankees (A+): Tampa still has a way to go if they are going to return to their former glory. They went 14-14 in May and are 24-28 overall. Tampa sits second from the bottom in the Florida State League North, a whopping fifteen games behind Daytona.
Robert Lyerly (3B) continues to be the story in Tampa. He hit .364/.419/.495/.914 for them in May. He had a homer, a triple, nine doubles and 26 RBIs. He also picked up three stolen bases. Walter Ibarra (2B) helped as well, hitting .275/.330/.363/.693 and picking up nine doubles and seven RBIs.
Chase Whitley (RP) has been a strong pitcher for Tampa’s bullpen. He made nine appearances for seventeen innings of work. He had a 1.59 ERA and walked just four while picking up eleven Ks and holding hitters to a .230 average. Jairo Heredia (SP) turned his ugly April around, going 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA in six games (five starts). He struck out 26 and held hitters to a .212 average.
Charleston RiverDogs (A-): Charleston continues to struggle, as they went 12-17 in May. They are 22-30 overall and are sixth in the SAL Southern Division. They are 6.5 games behind Savannah. Though they have some heavy hitters, Charleston’s pitching has been questionable at times.
J.R. Murphy (C) has made a lot of noise this season. He is the catching prospect everyone forgets about with Montero, Romine and Gary Sanchez making headlines. Still, Murphy has had a strong 2011, going .321/.381/.509/.891 in May with two homers, fourteen doubles, nine RBIs, a couple stolen bases and eleven walks. Slade Heathcott (OF) may have started strong, but had a messy May. He is sure to get promoted to Tampa sooner or later this season, but the fight earlier this month, combined with a lackluster May line of .216/.283/.289/.572, may keep him in Charleston a bit longer. Gary Sanchez (C) is injured again, but had improved quite a bit in May. He hit .273/.379/.527/.906 with five doubles, three homers, four teen RBIs and a stolen base. He walked ten times and struck out twelve.
As a side note, the Dominican Summer League has started and the DSL Yankees are 2-1 so far.