TAMPA, FL - The Trenton Thunder got waxed in Tuesday's minor league Spring Training action, losing to the Blue Jays 8-3, but it wasn't the fault of right-hander Jaron Long who was once again pitching some dominating baseball.
Right-hander Jaron Long has long flown under the radar with his rather average fastball and while he wasn't lighting up the radar gun in Tueday's game either, sitting mostly 88-89 mph with his heater, the Blue Jays were barely able to get any wood on the ball at all. He struck out five batters [all consecutively] in three scoreless innings, mixing in all of his pitches for strikes, including a great changeup. He allowed just one hit and walked none, and the Blue Jays were absolutely frustrated in their ability to get anything going against him.
Catcher Gary Sanchez delivered the big blow for Trenton, launching a line-drive, two-run missile home run over the left field fence in the first inning, scoring Mason Williams [1-4, SB, run]. He failed to reach base in his other two plate appearances but one out was a hard grounder to shortstop. Defensively he was absolutely in charge, blocking several balls in the dirt. He was an impact player on both sides of ball.
Trenton Starting Lineup: Jake Cave, Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Eric Jagielo, Dante Bichette Jr., Cito Culver, Devyn Bolasky, Claudio Custodio, and John Murphy.
First baseman Greg Bird went 1-2 in the loss but was absolutely locked in during all four plate appearances. He drew two walks, tripled deep down the right field line for his lone hit, and even his one out was a deep fly out to the warning track in right field. He is already in mid-season form.
Right-handed reliever Johnny Barbato, who reportedly was quite dominant in his first Spring Training outing the other day, showed some great stuff on Tuesday but the command was quite off. Sitting mostly 94 mph with his fastball and topping out at 95 mph, and showing a wicked breaking ball movement-wise that sat 77-79 mph, he simply couldn't locate any of his pitches with regularity. Despite pitching two innings, he recorded just three outs, walking three and giving up three hits. Miraculously he surrendered just one run, however. It simply wasn't his day.
Dante Bichette Jr., playing first base on Tuesday, went just 1-4 with a strikeout but hit the ball hard three times. His one hit was a double over the left fielder's head, and his two non-strikeout outs were deep fly outs, including one to the warning track in left field. Defensively he made all of the routine plays at first base too.
Claudio Custodio, playing right field, has by all accounts had a whale of a Spring Training camp thus far and it certainly appeared that way in Tuesday's loss. He went 1-2 with a deep solo home run over the left field wall in his first at-bat and then reached base safely in his second plate appearance when he was hit by a pitch. He lined out to the right fielder in his third and final plate appearance, and defensively he made a very underrated great play; a ball was laced into the right field corner to almost the exact same spot Bird hit his earlier in the game for his triple, and Custodio used his great speed to run down the ball and limit a rather speedy runner to a mere single. It was a fantastic play.
Left-hander Rogiberto Arrebato, who last pitched in the Yankee organization back in 2013, got tattooed for five runs in his 1.2 innings pitched, allowing three hits, a walk, and one hit batter. The breaking ball was impressive but he was both predictable with his fastball and he left it up in the zone all afternoon.
Both Eric Jagielo [1-3, K] and Jake Cave [0-3] didn't have much to show for their efforts in Tuesday's loss but both were hitting the ball hard. Jagielo's lone hit was a hard liner to right field for a single and he grounded out sharply to first base for one of his outs, and Cave lined out to the shortstop and grounded out hard his other two times at the plate.
Right-hander Cesar Vargas pitched just one inning but he might have been the most impressive pitcher on either team on Tuesday [outside Long]. He allowed just one hit in one scoreless inning and the radar gun wasn't exactly lighting up either, but his stuff was showing some nasty movement, so much so it prompted one Blue Jay pitcher charting the game behind the plate to bellow aloud "that's the nastiest sinker I've ever seen". He sat mostly 90-91 mph but he struck out a batter with a sinker that showed some incredible natural cutting action too.
The Yankees played three games at the minor league complex on Tuesday and Miguel Andujar, playing in the third game, went just 1-4 with a strikeout but was beyond impressive. He rocketed a double off of the right-centerfield wall in his first at-bat, and flew out deep in two other at-bats later in the game, one to the warning track in right field. Like Bird, he appears to be in mid-season form at the plate.
News from the Dominican academy has new International signing Bryan Emery turning heads with his rapidly developing power. The outfielder reportedly has been clubbing home runs akin to the likes of Nelson Gomez, Dermis Garcia, and Juan De Leon. That's certainly a good sign for one of the later signees last year.