Minor Leagues Review: May

Empire State’s pitching has not lived up to its potential.  While Dellin Betances and Banuelos have both showed some strong improvement over their April showings, Betances continues to struggle with control and Banuelos is back on the shelf with a finger issue.  Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense has been a pleasant surprise.  As a team, they are hitting .257/.338/.391, which puts them about fourth in the International League.  Ronnier Mustelier has done a good job since being called up earlier this month, hitting .287/.324/.479.  Steve Pearce, Jack Cust and Kevin Russo haven’t been able to replicate their strong April numbers, but continue to provide a lot of offense for Empire State.

Trenton Thunder:
The Thunder also continue to put together a strong season than I anticipated.  They went 19-10 in May and are just a game and a half behind the New Britain Rock Cats in the Eastern League Eastern Division.  Trenton has been nailed with injuries, with Graham Stoneburner back on the DL after a brief return.  Zoilo Almonte and Jose Pirela recently just got off the DL, but Trenton appears to be about a month ahead of last years pace when it comes to injuries in 2012.

Pitching has been a strong part of Trenton’s success.  They have the second lowest ERA (3.02) in the Eastern League, despite having the second most walks and second least strikeouts.  Shaeffer Hall has had a good season so far and found himself one out short of the rare minor league complete game.  Brett Marshall has also provided a strong arm for the Thunder, with a 1.42 ERA in six games (38 innings) in May.

While the Thunder’s offense has not been as good as their pitching, it is definitely doing its part.  They lead the EL in homers with 56, fourteen more than the next team.  Corban Joseph made his return from the DL this May and has given Trenton some nice offense.  Cody Johnson continues to show off his power, while Kevin Mahoney seemed to be in the middle of a lot of Trenton’s rallies this month.

Tampa Yankees:
Tampa continued their sluggish start to 2012, going 13-16 in May and sitting eleven games behind the Dunedin Blue Jays in the Florida State League North Division.  Tampa’s pitching has been rather mediocre, though they have allowed just 22 homers which is second only to St. Lucie’s 20.  They lead the league in both walks (199) and strikeouts (460), probably helped in part by the fact that they have pitched more innings than any other team given their penchant for ending up in extra inning games.  Their on base percentage has improved some over April, but .309 is still just enough to put them at the bottom of the FSL.

That said, the Yankees have seen some very strong performances. Ramon Flores put his terrible April far behind him with a fantastic May.  Rob Segedin and Neil Medchill also continue to give the Yankees some power and excitement on the bases.  Mark Montgomery continues to blow away Single-A competition from the bullpen and will likely find himself in Trenton sooner rather than later.  His April was very good, his May was even better.

Charleston RiverDogs:
The RiverDogs continue to put together the 2012 this exciting group of prospects had us expecting.  They went 18-13 in May and sit 3.5 games behind the Asheville Tourists in the South Atlantic League Southern Division.  Their pitching seems to be average for the SAL, but their offense shows few weaknesses.  They are in the top four of the division in most major offensive statistics and have shown off some speed, stealing 91 bases, by far the most in the SAL.

Tyler Austin continues to provide a lot of offense for the RiverDogs.  Gary Sanchez is also showing why he’s IIATMS’ top prospect.  Though he seemed to be slumping towards the end of the month,  he may have busted out of that going 3-5 in two of his last three games, picking up seven RBIs and a homer in the first game and five RBIs and two homers yesterday.  Dante Bichette started May as cold as he was in April, but he seems to have turned the corner finally.  In his last ten games he hit .326/.392/.435 and had his first homer of the season last night.  Bryan Mitchell had a very strong May on the mound, making five starts and owning a 1.55 ERA.  He issued 11 walks and struck out 34.

Tamar has written for IIATMS since July 2009, having started off writing game recaps before shifting to the minor leagues. Born in Connecticut and having lived all over the country and in South Korea, Tamar now finds herself "temporarily misplaced" in New Hampshire. Please send help.