The Trenton Thunder are fourteen games into Al Pedrique’s first season at the helm, and so far, so good for the three-time Eastern League champions. They sit atop the Eastern Division with a 9-5 record, and they’ve done so with some early season headlines.
Mason Williams’ resurgence
Could adding the former top prospect to the 40-man roster have given him some new life? Through 13 games, the outfielder has produced a .304/.353/.348 batting line, and appears much more confident at the plate. Though most of his time has been spent out of position defensively and in an unfamiliar spot in the lineup, Williams has adjusted just fine to his new roles.
Garrison’s looking good
Our feature on Taylor Garrison noted just how rare it is for a pitcher to successfully convert from a reliever to a starter. However, the 24-year-old is making his pitch to stay in the rotation with a solid start to the 2015 campaign. Thorough three starts, Garrison is 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA. His WHIP is a bit high (1.47), but Garrison has shown consistent ability to work out of the jams he has created. His four-pitch arsenal is serving him well in Trenton thus far.
Monty the man
Former Thunder manager Tony Franklin was notorious for spreading his save opportunities around, however Al Pedrique’s first year at the helm has mostly been the Mark Montgomery show in a save opportunity. The former top relief prospect has looked better this year than last as he continues to rebuild his standing in the organization after a shoulder injury in 2013. In five games, Montgomery has recorded three saves, while striking out seven hitters in five innings of work.
Bird and Sanchez starting slow
The Thunder lineup has been every bit as fearful as many thought, and that’s without two key pieces producing at a high level. Thanks to the likes of Mason Williams and Jake Cave, slow starts from Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird have been relatively overlooked. Sanchez’s .189 batting average is worst amongst regular starters in the Thunder lineup, and he has just two extra base hits in 37 at-bats. Bird’s .224 average is on the rise, and his early year numbers have been buoyed by his team-leading nine walks.
Fourteen games. Six starting pitchers. And…zero quality starts? It doesn’t seem like a recipe for success at any level, but Pedrique’s Thunder squad has made it work so far. Really, this speaks to just how well the bullpen has pitched. Mark Montgomery and Johnny Barbato have been dominant, while Nick Goody and Kyle Haynes have produced as solid back end pieces as well. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that all four of these guys could see time in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before season’s end.