Thunder Notebook: Trenton Hits the Road Following 3-4 Home Stand

TRENTON – The Thunder were shut out 4-0 in the finale of their three-game set with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Wednesday night at ARM & HAMMER Park. After splitting a four-game series with Richmond to open the season, Trenton dropped two-of-three to the Cats to fall to 3-4 overall on the young season.

Manager Jay Bell and his team will now board the bus for their first road trip of the season as they take the seven hour trip out west to Akron where they will meet the 4-3 RubberDucks for a three-game weekend slate beginning Friday night at Canal Park.

Thunder pitcher Domingo Acevedo has been solid in two starts for Trenton.(Martin Griff)

The Trenton Ace: Domingo Acevedo, Pinstriped Prospects fourth-ranked prospect, made his second start of the season for Trenton on Wednesday night. The imposing 6-foot-7 right-hander labored early against the potent Fisher Cats lineup that features two of the games elite prospects in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.

After New Hampshire worked him for 54 pitches over the first two innings, Acevedo needed just 32 pitches to navigate through the fifth inning. In total, the 24-year-old Acevedo allowed two runs, just one earned, on two hits.

“To be honest with you, it was an extraordinary outing,” Bell said. “As many pitches as he had thrown in the first, for him to be able to get through five was terrific.”

After two starts against Richmond and New Hampshire, Acevedo is 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA; he has allowed just five hits and three earned runs while fanning eight and walking seven. Eastern League opposition has hit just .143 against him. The fastball for Acevedo has sat between 92-94 MPH and was clocked as high as 95 in his start on Wednesday.

“His velocity is down just a tick from last year,” admitted Bell. “But, it is starting to come back; he is doing a good job with that, too.”

When asked why he thought his velocity may be down a bit, Bell said. “I don’t know why it is, his average is down just a tick, but it’s not that big of a deal. It’s probably early season stuff; he is a big, strong guy and I expect him to perform really well. Overall, I think he was up a little bit from his last start and so we’ll see a lot of progression.”

Losing control: The Thunder pitching staff has issued an Eastern League worst 44 walks over the first seven games of the season. In 28 2/3 innings pitched, the Thunder bullpen has issued 23 free passes. Defensively, the Thunder have committed 9 errors over their first seven games which has led to seven unearned runs.

Thunder outfielder Jhalan Jackson leads the Eastern League in homers with 4. (Martin Griff)

Hit or miss: Thunder outfielder Jhalan Jackson finds himself atop the Eastern League leaderboards as the first week of the season is in the books. The 25-year old slugger leads the league in homers with four, but also leads finds himself with the most strikeouts in the league at 14.

Starting fast: Outfielder Ben Ruta, who skipped completely over High-A Tampa to begin the season in Trenton, is hitting a team best .400 (8-for-20), which is good for the fourth best mark in the EL. The 23-year old New Jersey native has hit safely in four of his six games, three of them being multi-hit efforts, while also swiping two bases and scoring three runs.

Former second round draft selection Gosuke Katoh hit safely in the first six games of the season before seeing his streak come to a halt on Wednesday night. The 23-year old infielder has played in all seven games thus far and has slashed .346/.452/.500 with a team-high nine hits and is tied for third in the league in walks with five. A great sign from a player seeing upper-level pitching for the first time.

Trenton Thunder pitcher Caleb Frare is yet to allow an earned run this season. (Martin Griff)

Closing time: Before the season began back on media day, Bell rattled off four names that he envisioned pitching in the closers role or high leverage back-end situations for him. Those guys were Jordan Foley, Andrew Schwaab, Caleb Frare, and Kaleb Ort, have all been outstanding for Trenton in small sample sizes over the first week. The trio of Foley, Schwaab and Frare have yet to surrender an earned run in 9 2/3 innings while allowing just seven hits and three walks with 14 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Ort has made the drastic jump to Trenton all the way from short-season Staten Island, and has allowed just one earned run with seven strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings pitched.