The Road To Yankee Stadium Goes Through Trenton

by Daniel Levitt | Posted on Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
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For Yankees minor-leaguers, the road to Yankee Stadium goes through Trenton.

For Yankees minor-leaguers, the road to Yankee Stadium goes through Trenton.

TRENTON, N.J. – For every New York Yankees draftee hopeful of one day playing in the Big Apple, the road to Yankee Stadium goes through Trenton.

Since 2003, the Trenton Thunder has been the Double A affiliate for the Yankees, a destination where some of the greatest in the organization’s history have donned the uniforms.

Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte are just two greats to have played for the Thunder, albeit on rehab assignments, but the affiliate is proud of its rich history in helping produce some of the organization’s standouts.

Thunder hitting coach P.J. Pilittere acknowledged the sense of history and pride of wearing the famous pinstripes.

“When we put on the pinstripes and we have this NY logo on our chest, it’s a special privilege.

“Trying to instill that sense of pride and tradition that comes along with putting on the logo, the responsibility that it entails is a big responsibility, but we want it no other way”.

Pilittere knows all about wearing the pinstripes, having played for the Yankees at every minor-league level in his eight-year career.

“It helps that I’ve been through a lot of the things they’re about to go through”, he said Tuesday night.

“We talk a lot about the logo and the history, and blood, sweat and tears that’s gone into making this logo and the pinstripes special.”

The history is recent as well with Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera, now with the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox, respectively, each playing more than 100 games for the Thunder. They now have seven All-Star appearances between them.

Thunder first baseman Greg Bird, who garnered significant praise from Alex Rodriguez in Spring Training, is also on board with adhering to the tradition of playing for the pinstripes.

“Playing for the Yankees is special. All the guys that have come through the organization have played for us.

“It’s history, it’s baseball history and I love both.”

Several highly coveted prospects have already suited up at ARM & HAMMER Park this season.

Top Yankees prospect Luis Severino, currently pitching for the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, started the year in Trenton and is now on the verge of his major-league debut.

Aaron Judge, also with the RailRiders, is another to have passed through Trenton this season. He’ll face off against current Thunder catcher Gary Sanchez in the 2015 MLB Futures Game.

Judge, the Yankees’ number two prospect, was another youngster that caught the attention of A-Rod.

“Two of the finest young hitters I’ve seen in a long time,” Rodriguez said of Judge and Bird. “I mean, you don’t see those type of young hitters come around very often … we’re lucky to have two of them. I was impressed.”

Pilettere seconded Rodriguez, and thinks they are two future mainstays in the majors.

“Those two guys are just so headstrong, they’re so mature, and they show a wisdom that is beyond their years that’s only going to grow.”

“I think we’ve got a lot of exciting guys. I mean, I could sit here and name a lot of them, so we’ve got a lot of really exciting players that are close, that are on the right track to contributing and staying in the majors for a while.”

The future for the Yankees looks bright beyond 2015, with a host of talented players currently in Single A and below.

Jorge Mateo, the Yankees’ number three prospect, could see time in Trenton in 2016. The 20-year-old shortstop, currently playing with the Single A Charleston RiverDogs, was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 and is hitting .264 with 52 stolen bases in 67 games.

Ian Clarkin, the organization’s top left-handed pitcher, reached the Single A advanced Tampa Bay Yankees last year. Yet to play in 2015 due to injury, the 19-year-old is likely to spend time in Trenton next year.

Whether or not the Thunder receive any credit, every Yankees minor-leaguer knows the road to New York runs through Trenton.

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Daniel Levitt
About the Author

Daniel has been following the minor-leagues since 2012, and is BHC's go-to guy for all things prospects. Daniel is eager to enthral you all with his love and passion for baseball. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielLevitt32.

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