Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome!

Welcome to the Thunder Report, the Trentonian's Thunder blog. I'll be using this space to supplement the newspaper's print coverage of the Yankees' Double A affiliate.

Our coverage will kick into high gear on Monday, when I head down to Florida to chronicle the assembly of the Thunder's 2007 opening day roster. But the pieces are already beginning to fall into place. The Yankees have begun making cuts from major league camp, starting the "trickle-down effect" that will help shape the rosters for all four of their full-season minor league affiliates.

One thing I can tell you right now - the Thunder pitching staff should be very good. An outstanding draft last year, along with the Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson trades this past winter, have given the Yankees plenty of pitching depth in their farm system. A number of those prospects will make their way to Trenton this season, either for opening night or down the road.

This is great news for Yankees fans. Aside from former Thunder star Chien Ming Wang, the Yankees' pitching staff isn't exactly young. Even the great Mariano Rivera isn't going to be closing games forever. And since free agent pitching is very overpriced ($7 million a year for Jason Marquis?!?!), it really helps if you can develop your pitching from within.

As Thunder fans, you got to see some of the Yankees top pitching prospects last summer in Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard, J.B. Cox, Jeff Karstens, and (during the two months he was here) T.J. Beam. This summer, you'll get to see even more.

More on this and other things to watch this season in the days, weeks, and months to come. It should be an interesting summer for new manager Tony Franklin's team and the 400,000 or so who will pack Waterfront Park to see it play.

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