On Tuesday afternoon, the Trenton Thunder hosted media day and a practice before the start of the 2016 season.
The Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees will be led by manager Bobby Mitchell.
A 7th round selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1977 Draft, Mitchell appeared in 202 games over four seasons in the major leagues for the Dodgers and Minnesota Twins. Mitchell was a member of the 1981 World Championship team and becomes the fifth manager in franchise history to have played in the major leagues.
Mitchell is excited to manage some impressive young talent headlined by three top 30 prospects including No. 6 Dustin Fowler, No. 8 Tyler Wade and No.19 Brady Lail.
“Player development is always number one in my mind,” Mitchell said on Tuesday. “But I truly believe that part of player development is developing that winning type attitude. I came up that way with the Dodgers. Every time we stepped on the field at any level we were confident in our abilities. We knew we had a good chance to win.”
The Thunder feature a roster that is well balanced offensively and defensively and will have some familiar faces as 17 of their 25 players are heading back for a second stay in Trenton.
The Thunder will look to Lail to be the ace of the pitching staff. In 2015, the right-hander was an Eastern League All-Star before being promoted to Triple-A Scranton. Overall, Lail was 10-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 2015.
“I’ve seen a lot of starters at spring training and I love ours,” Mitchell stated. “A lot of really good arms and we throw strikes which is huge in development.”
Another guy to keep an eye on is 20-year old Ronald Herrera. Herrera is a a key piece to the Thunder pitching staff and has a mature arm, being only 20.
“He’s only 20 or 21-years old and he is very polished,” the Thunder manager said. “The way he showed command and really throws strikes, he has a great arm.”
In the infield, the Thunder will have Wade at shortstop. Wade hit .262 between two teams last year and will look to continue his development.
“I am really excited for the 2016 season,” Wade said. “Bobby (Mitchell) is a great guy and is going to be a great manager as well. He will be a great guy to play for.”
Wade will look to stand out as a shortstop in an organization that has a lot of talent in that department.
“I am just going to be myself,” he said. “I don’t want to worry about who’s behind me or whose in front of me, I just want to play my game and let everything take care of itself.”
Also in the infield will be former top-prospects Dante Bichette, Cito Culver, Jose Rosario and Vince Conde.
In the outfield will be Dustin Fowler, Tyler Austin, and Jake Cave. Fowler, who hit .298 in 2015, also drove in 70 runs between Charleston and Tampa last year.
The Thunder also have Lane Adams who was acquired off waivers in January. Adams is a 26-year old that played Double and Triple-A in 2015 with the Kansas City Royals.
The Thunder will host the Erie SeaWolves on Thursday night at Arm and Hammer Park in Trenton. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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