Home > Francisco Cervelli, Interview, Jesus Montero, Jorge Vazquez, Minor-Leagues, Phil Coke, Ramiro Pena > 10 Questions with Trenton Thunder Beat Writer Mike Ashmore

10 Questions with Trenton Thunder Beat Writer Mike Ashmore

In my first segment of 10 questions with, I ask 10 questions to Mike Ashmore, Trenton Thunder beat writer.

1. Out of all the players in AA this year….who has impressed you the
most? Who has dissapointed you the most?

Mike Ashmore: Impressed me the most is probably Ivan Nova or Josh Schmidt. Looking
at his previous numbers, I really wasn’t expecting a lot out of
Nova…and I thought his confidence might be shot from getting knocked
around in big league camp with the Padres. While I don’t think he was
as consistent as he would have liked to have been in Trenton, he did a
lot to improve his stock while he was here.

As for Schmidt, he isn’t a guy who will ever be considered a prospect,
despite the fact he’s always put up numbers. He’s the kind of guy a
lot of fans will ignore because they don’t read about him in the
prospect books and so on…but he’s been unflappable for most of the
season, performing better than the guys with supposedly better stuff.

2. Give us some background info on Josh Schmidt?

MA: Schmidt is a great guy, and it seems you won’t find anyone who will
tell you any different. It’s not uncommon to see him chatting away
with a fan, the grounds crew, a beat writer or anyone he can find.
His engaging personality is very similar to another Californian, Phil
Coke
. Throws a mid 80’s fastball, a so-so slider and an absolutely
devastating slow curve. I’ll be very, very curious to see how his
repetoire plays against Triple-A hitters…and I think that chance
will come soon.

3. Give us some info on Zach McAllister?

MA: Z-Mac isn’t really that exciting on or off the field. He’s a quiet
kid in the clubhouse, and doesn’t really blow anyone away on the
mound, nor does he have what you could describe as one standout
offering. But he really pounds the zone, has great command of his
stuff, and flat out knows how to pitch. He’s attracted the interest
of quite a few scouts who have passed through Waterfront Park…

4. If you had to pick one player on the Thunder that will have a long
and successful MLB career who would it be?

MA: It would be hard to bet against Jesus Montero right now. I’m not sure
if that career will come behind the plate, but his bat will take him a
long way.

5. After seeing the whole Tony Bernazard and Binghamton Mets story
play out and the Mets be repeatedly chastised for their lack of depth
how do you feel the Yankees are at the same thing? Do you feel they
have good enough depth in the system?

MA: No. They’ve had to dip into the minor league free agent pool and
independent baseball recently. And even with that, some of the
options to be called up aren’t exactly very appealing. It seems that
the position player depth is a bit behind the pitching depth…and
even the pitching depth doesn’t seem to be what it used to.

6. Give us some insight on Jesus Montero?

MA: Has a big body for a 19-year-old…he could stand to improve a bit
behind the plate, but he continually works to do so. It’s not
uncommon to see him working on blocking balls in the bullpen or in the
batting cage. He struggles a bit with offspeed stuff at the plate
sometimes, but overall…the bat is absolutely there. Seems to crush
line drives with the flick of the wrists.

7. Give us the best prospect you’ve seen (thunder or non-thunder) that
has impressed you the most?

MA: Assuming I’m sticking with guys I’ve seen just this year, both Tim
Alderson
and Junichi Tazawa (who is on the Redsox AA Affiliate) were both really impressive. Had I seen
Jeanmar Gomez’s perfect game, I’m sure I’d have included him here as
well.

8. Were you surprised when you saw Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena
jump from AA to the MLB? Are there any current AA players that you
think can do the same any time soon?

MA: Cervelli didn’t surprise me because they really didn’t have a choice
with the way the 40-man roster was constructed. You can’t argue with
what he did while he was there, but considering the way he was playing
in Trenton, you could make a case that he didn’t exactly earn it,
either. Pena was a surprise just because of the role he was asked to
fill. All he ever really did in Trenton was play shortstop, and there
he was filling at third base for Alex Rodriguez. I was surprised at
how well he handled it.

As far as any of the current Thunder players being able to make the
jump…honestly, I’m not really sure anyone on the current roster is
ready for that right now. I’m sure there are guys who would perform
well if they were given the opportunity…but there isn’t anyone
standing out for me. Maybe Jorge Vazquez? His age and his bat would
make him a candidate.

9. When talking about the minor leagues we always seem to use the word
“potential.” The Yankees may promote Andrew Brackman despite his
horrific numbers in Charleston because of his potential. The Yankees
were so reluctant to promote Pat Venditte because they felt he didn’t
have much potential. I think Josh Schmidt would be a good case in AA.
Can you describe the effect potential has on minor leaguers compared
to actual success?

MA: I don’t know if it’s so much that they didn’t think Venditte had
potential as it was his stuff may not have compared favorably to other
guys in the organization. And a lot of it’s financially related as
well. Look at the investment they’ve made both financially and with a
roster spot they’ve made with Brackman. They have little choice but
to keep throwing him out there, regardless of how he does.

The guy with the better stuff, sometimes regardless of results, will
likely get a look before the guy who’s getting by with average stuff
but is putting up numbers. If you were doing things based off of
numbers, Josh Schmidt and Eric Wordekemper would be in Scranton right
now.

10. What is your favorite story that you’ve had with the Thunder?

MA: This season, probably the Thunder Burger Challenge…it was an
off-beat story and had nothing to do with baseball, which was nice
because I can kind of get tired of writing about it 24/7.

Overall, probably anything regarding last year’s championship. After
they won it on the road in 2007, it was nice to be able to be a part
of it last year and see them win it in front of the home fans.

Thanks again to Mike for answering the questions!

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  1. Anonymous
    July 28, 2009 at 12:32 PM

    I really enjoy Mike's blog. I read it everyday. I am a bit disappointed in the lack of confidence in the farm system. I know that they have had to dip into it and probably traded too many prospects (to the Pirates), but I look at the lower level (including Dominican teams) and think they will be ok.

  2. Brandon
    July 29, 2009 at 12:50 AM

    Jose Tabata has been a bust so far, while Karstens and Ohlendorf have been capable long relievers/ 5th starter types for the Pirates. While I still regret the trade, it wasn't that bad after all.

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