There’s little doubt a shakeup is coming as far as the Yankees Minor League system is concerned. Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman is retiring.
Some reports have speculated Director of Player Development Pat Roessler will also be going, with Special Assistant of Minor/Major League Operations taking Newman’s place.
The chips will fall where they may, but there a some people who have toiled in the Yankees Player Development operation that organization would best hold on to.
Front-and-center in that category is veteran Double-A Trenton manager Tony Franklin, who has compiled a 635-532 mark, a .544 winning percentage, three Eastern League championships and five playoff appearances in eight seasons with the Thunder. Countless players have passed through the Garden State and made it to the majors.
“I just remind our guys how they have to be consistent, put out their best effort daily and keep working on their games if they want to get to the major leagues,” said Franklin, who indicated he would like to return for a ninth season in Trenton if the Yankees want him back.
“I like the job,” he said with a smile. “I really enjoy seeing our players get better. The emphasis is on development, and we’ve been able to win some championships to go along with it. It’s all good. I feel good. I’d like to be back.”
Franklin runs a professional clubhouse. He doesn’t have a lot of rules, but his players better adhere to the ones he has. Prospects seem to enjoy playing for Franklin at what is an all-important level of the minors. His work certainly rates as invaluable.
Others who have played for Franklin, or have come in for a rehab assignment, notice just how the on-the field Trenton operation has been run.
“I was really impressed with how everything is here,” said Lance Berkman when he came for a 2010 rehab with the Thunder. “You never know what to expect. I can see, with the way Tony runs things, this is a great place to play. It’s a lot different than when I came up through the minors.”
Then there is Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, whose game came together in Trenton in parts of 2006 and 2007.
“It was fun to play in Trenton,” said Gardner. “It was a key part of my development, and Tony Franklin and his staff really worked to make what we are today.”
On the pitching side, David Phelps array began to develop in Trenton in 2010. He was back for a rehab in 2013.
“I kind of enjoyed coming back here,” said Phelps. “The staff here, Tony and his coaches, really work with you on what it takes to get to the majors.”
Two other highly regarded coaches at Class-A Advanced Tampa are Danny Borrell (pitcbing) and P.J. Pillitieri (hitting). Borrell has been responsible for pitchers like Jaron Long improving and jumping on the fast track. Pillitiere did the same with hitters such as Jake Cave making their mark in Tampa and moving on.
Tommy Phelps had been an excellent pitching coach in Trenton. Luis Dorante did a solid job in his first season managing the Charleston RiverDogs. Staten Island skipper Mario Garza is highly regarded. Hitting coach Ty Hawkins is a good evaluator of hitting technique who works at the Short-Season level by choice.
The development people mentioned here are those we have worked with and know well. There are other highly valued people as well. They have earned their plaudits and done well.
And in any shakeup, they are the cream that rises to the top no matter who is in charge.