When I wrote about the RailRiders earlier this week, it wasn't intended to start a series of similar posts, rather I was just excited by what is happening in Scranton. However, much like Scranton, Trenton is putting together a nice season, after a rather disappointing 2014. While some of the names are the same, the reasons for Trenton's success are less clear. Last year, the Thunder went 67-75, landing in fourth place in the EL Eastern Division. Today, they are sitting at 37-29, just half a game behind the New Britain Rock Cats. If the season ended today, Trenton would be back in the playoffs, a feat they have managed to pull of a little over half the time that Trenton has been in the Yankees' system.
As I mentioned on Monday, offense has been the driving force behind Scranton's strong season thusfar. Trenton's strength seems to lie more with their pitching. As a team, Trenton has a 3.58 ERA and is tied for the most shut outs with seven. They are limiting damage with only 26 homers, the least in the EL, and they have the second most strikeouts with 491. They also have the most walks issued, however, giving up 224 free passes.
The Thunder have had strong performances by starters and relief pitchers. Prospects like Brady Lail and Luis Severino got them off to a good start, however, Severino has since been promoted to Scranton. He threw eight games for Trenton and had a 3.32 ERA, allowing just two homers and ten walks, while ringing up 48 Ks in 38 innings. Lail has made eleven starts for Trenton in twelve appearances and has only allowed one home run. He has 34 strikeouts and fifteen walks in 51.1 innings. Eric Ruth has also giving Trenton some good quality starts, including the win in last night's victory over Reading. He has a 1.71 ERA in 52.2 innings and is holding opposing hitters to a .202 average. As usual, Mark Montgomery and Nick Goody are proving to be trustworthy out of the pen.
Trenton's batting numbers are much more mediocre than their pitching. While they have some flashy offensive prospects in Aaron Judge, Eric Jagielo and Jake Cave, as a team they are hitting just .257/.324/.376. They've lost a couple players who contributed quite a bit with their bats, as Ali Castillo was promoted to Scranton and Mason Williams is currently with the Yankees. Cave has been a great asset for Trenton, hitting .293/.372/.386 over 62 games. Jagielo is hitting .284/.347/.495 in 58 games with sixteen doubles, nine homers and 35 RBIs. Strikeouts are definitely a problem, as he has 58 to his eighteen walks. Judge had a monster night last night and is currently hitting .280/.347/.506 in sixty games. He has fifteen doubles, eleven homers and 42 RBIs. He has 68 strikeouts on the season, however, with just 24 walks.
How Trenton will fair in the long run will be interesting. It's not uncommon for a team to do well for the first half of the season, only to see their top players promoted (or injured, traded...) and have things start to fall apart. So far, with the core of Cave, Jagielo and Judge, they have been able to adjust to players like Williams and Severino moving on. If players like Gary Sanchez and Dante Bichette, Jr. could get their bats moving a bit more, Trenton might continea force to be reckoned with.