This year's Trenton Thunder have a lot to live up to after they not only won the Eastern League Championship last year, but swept their way through the playoffs after winning the last nine games of the regular season. While Ramon Flores, Ali Castillo and Ben Gamel put together big offensive performances in the postseason, it was Trenton's pitching that gave them success during the season, giving up the second least hits in the EL and the third least runs. If there ever was a group to propel Trenton to a repeat Championship, this may be it. As Brad mentioned yesterday, the top of the Thunder lineup will be Mason Williams, Rob Refsnyder, Rob Segedin and Gary Sanchez. That is a lineup that should give EL pitchers some nightmares. Sanchez, of course, has been at or near the top of most Yankee prospect lists the last couple years. He ended 2013 in Trenton, after playing most of the year in Tampa. With Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy ahead of him in Scranton, its likely he will spend the year in Trenton. Refsnyder and Segedin will join Sanchez in the infield, playing second base and third base respectively. Refsnyder has moved quickly through the system since signing with the Yankees in 2012. The Yankees started him in Charleston in 2012 and he crushed the ball there for the first thirteen games of the 2013 season before being promoted to Tampa. He hit .293/.413/.413 and stole 23 bases.
Williams is another top prospect, but after ending 2012 early with a torn labrum he seemed to have a down season in 2013, not helped by his DUI arrest. The outfielder spent most of 2012 in Tampa, hitting .261/.327/.350 before playing seventeen games in Trenton. The Yankees sent him to Arizona in the fall, where he picked up AFL Rising Star honors. Ben Gamel will join Williams in the outfield. Like Segedin, Gamel's not seen as a strong prospect, but both should contribute to Trenton's offense this season.
Pitching helped Trenton find success last season, but it is hard to know what to expect from them this year. There are a few interesting arms in the Trenton lineup, particularly Bryan Mitchell. He throws hard, but struggles with consistency and control. If Mitchell can start to put it together this year it could be something truly exciting to watch. Matt Tracey, Branden Pinder, Zach Nuding and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte will also be seeing time on the Trenton mound.