TRENTON – The Thunder returned home to ARM & HAMMER Park on Thursday night and moved to 17-1 on the season against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in a rain-shortened, 3-1 victory. The win improved Trenton’s MiLB best record to 65-31 and they trail only the Los Angeles Dodgers (66), for the most wins in professional baseball. Right-handed hurler Domingo Acevedo allowed just one earned run and three hits over his five innings to improve to 4-0.
By the numbers: While the Thunder have run rough shod over the Eastern League with an 11.5 game division lead, the shape of their roster seems to dramatically change almost daily. Thunder Manager Bobby Mitchell, who has to be the front-runner for Eastern League Manager of the Year up to this point, has gone 152-86 since taking over at the helm last season – the best mark in minor league baseball over that time. The skipper has used a roster of 59 different players in 2017 and has still managed to win ball games no matter who he has the option of writing in on the line-up card.
The Thunder have an 11.5 game division lead despite losing two of the teams three RBI leaders in Miguel Andujar and Mike Ford, along with stars such as Gleyber Torres, Jake Cave, Billy McKinney, Chance Adams, Domingo German, and Ronald Herrera.
How good has the Thunder pitching staff been? They have an EL team best ERA of 2.84, the next best team mark is Binghamton at 3.65. They lead the league in essentially every major statistical category, including shutouts (14), saves (31), fewest hits allowed (725), strikeouts (815), and WHIP (1.24).
Scorching Mateo: Jorge Mateo has managed to dramatically raise his stock and reclaim status as one of the games most exciting prospects in less than a month at the Double-A level. After immense struggles for the last year down in Tampa, the speedster has recorded 31 hits and has reached base safely in all 21 games that he has played for the Thunder. The 22-year old Mateo has slashed .360/.439/.628 with three homers, eight doubles, three triples and swiped nine bases while serving as the table-setter at the top of Mitchell’s lineup.
As the play of Mateo has picked-up, so too have the trade rumors swirling around with his name at the center of them. The Yankees pulled off a blockbuster deal with the White Sox earlier this week and are said to extremely active in trying to pull off another deal for a starting pitcher and/or a true first baseman. A source told Pinstriped Prospects on Thursday evening that the Yankees have had several discussions with the Oakland A’s about starting pitcher Sonny Gray and first baseman Yonder Alonso.
With reports of those discussions running rampant as the trade deadline approaches, fuel was only added to the speculation on Thursday night when A’s Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel Billy Owens was in attendance for the Thunder’s victory over the Fisher Cats.
Thunder southpaw Josh Rogers will miss the remainder of the season after he underwent surgery to remove a bonespur in his elbow last week. The procedure was performed by Dr.Kremchek, who will also perform the Tommy John surgery on Michael Pineda.
Mitchell announced that Acevedo will be limited to five innings in all of his starts for the remainder of the season as he approaches his organization imposed innings-limit. Mitchell said that by limiting his innings, they hope that they will not have to shut him down once the team reaches the postseason like they had to do to Chance Adams last season.
Justus Sheffield is feeling better after straining his right oblique in early July. Mitchell said that he expects the lefty to get another MRI soon to assure that it has healed before he resumes throwing.