Tuesday, March 4, 2014
A conversation with Josh Maurer
After two years in the Trenton broadcast booth, Josh Maurer is moving on, having accepted a broadcasting position with the Pawtucket Red Sox (read the full release here
). Minor Matters recently caught up with Josh, discussing the big shoes he'll be filling in Pawtucket, the Thunder's championship run a season ago, and Tyler Austin's playoff swagger.
Eight former Pawtucket broadcasters are now broadcasting
for major professional teams. That must have been appealing.
One of the things about minor league broadcasters is
that you want to get to the major leagues. I think that’s all of our ultimate
goals. We’ve always heard about the Pawtucket radio booth. From the time I got
into the industry 11 years ago, Pawtucket has always been the benchmark job
that minor league broadcasters look at. I probably applied to that job four of
five times in the past decade, so to actually be considered for it and get it
is really mindboggling, to be honest with you. Its pretty humbling to be put in
that category with the other guys that have been there, and have then gone on
to the major leagues. I don’t think its really sunk in for me yet.
Is it the premier minor league broadcasting job?
I would say it is, at last as far as exposure that you
get from being in the booth. Pawtucket is probably it, and that’s not to
belittle any other team or any other broadcast. I’d actually put Trenton in the
top five. I think that’s one of the big reasons I was considered for this,
because I had the Thunder name on my resume. They had hired Andy Freed — Andy
is now the radio broadcaster for the Tampa Bay Rays — Pawtucket had hired Andy
about a decade ago from Trenton, so there was already that lineage there. There
was a familiarity with the PawSox folks, knowing that Trenton produces really
: Most memorable moment in Trenton?
It has to be the championship run last year
. I’ll never
forget it. The whole month of September, to be honest with you, they didn’t
lose a game. Going back to the end of the regular season, that series in
Portland when they clinched the playoffs, and the uncertainty really of the
whole month of August. Remember, we weren’t even sure they were going to make
the playoffs. They had to play well down the stretch, and there was really no
margin for error. To play the way they did — they didn’t lose a single game in
September — get in the playoffs, sweep Binghamton who was heavily favored.
After the Binghamton series, I feel that Harrisburg in the championship almost
felt like a formality with all the momentum they had. It was just fun. It was
almost like a joyride, the Harrisburg championship, because at least me — I’m
guessing Tony Franklin would not agree with me — it never really was in doubt
in my mind with the way the team was playing and how confident they were.
That’s what I’ll remember.
The game you pointed out, where they beat
Syndergaard, that’s the one that more than any of the other ones — even more
than the championship clincher. Tyler Austin before the game giving that salvoto Syndergaard
, saying that it was going to be a long night for him, and then
he backed it up. The game went to extra innings, and they had to come from
behind in that 10th
inning, which was probably the most remarkable
comeback I saw in two years. It was that Game 1 against Binghamton. That was
You also broadcast UMass football and basketball. Did
that factor in?
That’s another reason, to be honest with you, that this
job was appealing. It makes my life a lot easier. It’s significantly easier to
travel back and forth between Pawtucket and western Massachusetts than Trenton
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
2/25/14: Winston strikes out, Flores goes deep, and Maurer moves on
While Jameis Winston - he of national championship and Heisman fame on the gridiron - was the national media story Tuesday, he wasn't much of a baseball story, going 0-for-2 with a K. Here is the box score:
Bryan Mitchell, the man who K'd Winston, had a nice day with 3 Ks and no hits in 2 innings. Mitchell started three games for the Thunder at the end of last season, and has nasty stuff but has struggled with control, so encouraging to see him get through two frames without giving up a walk. The 2012 Thunder great Vidal Nuno, who will be competing for a rotation spot in the Bronx this year, was also solid with 3 Ks in 2 IP.
In right field, Ramon Flores did something he didn't do very often last season - go deep. He hit 6 dingers in 620 plate appearances in Trenton last season.
Also, Thunder games will sound a whole lot different next year, as the excellent broadcaster Josh Maurer has accepted a position with the Pawtucket Red Sox (you can read the official release here
). No word yet on his replacement, though the Thunder did post a job opening Tuesday
. The PawSox have an illustrious list of former broadcasters, with eight currently calling games for major professional sports franchises, so Josh certainly gets a hearty congratulations from Minor Matters.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Tony Franklin to return
TRENTON — Trenton Thunder fans will see a familiar face in the dugout when the team returns to Arm & Hammer Park this spring.
The Thunder announced Thursday afternoon that longtime manager Tony Franklin will return for his eighth season with the club via press release.
“No. 1, I’m not done yet,” Franklin said with a laugh when asked about his decision to come back, via telephone from his native Los Angeles. “I’m not done yet. I’m still passionate, so it was an easy decision.”
By all accounts, Franklin is the most successful manager in the team’s 20-year existence. He won his third Eastern League championship with the club last year and has reached the EL’s title series in five of his seven seasons at the helm. He was the EL Manager of the Year in 2012 and owns an overall record with the Thunder of 568-457.
“Tony Franklin is a great asset to the Thunder and our community,” General Manager Will Smith said via the release. “The success that we’ve enjoyed on the field during his tenure is unprecedented and we’re excited to see Tony back to defend last season’s championship.”
The release said pitching coach Tommy Phelps and strength and conditioning coach Orlando Crance will also return to the club. New hitting coach Marcus Thames as well as Orlando Mercado, who have a combined 18 years of playing experience at the Major League level, will join them.
“They bring a lot of experience with their ability to play the game, and when you get to the Double-A level, you start seeing yourself as a Major League player,” Franklin said of the staff’s new additions. “You need to learn how to play the game like a Major League player and think like a Major League player, and I think that’s what Orlando and Marcus have.”
Despite all of his success, there were questions about whether the 63-year-old would return. One issue was his health — he underwent a bilateral hip replacement in 2006 and left knee replacement before the 2012 season — but it was clear toward the end of the 2013 season he was beginning to feel better physically.
“It’s no secret that I’ve been dealing with injuries the past couple of years, and for a minute there it was not clear to me that I was going to come back, because it was contingent on how well my body was body up,” Franklin said. “All of a sudden things started to get better, my body started feeling better and I was able to handle all of these day-to-day activities like I’ve always done. That was a big factor.”
The other major question surrounding Franklin’s return was if he’d be willing to spend another season managing in the minors. He has been open about his desire to coach in the MLB and admitted to exploring his options.
“I made a couple inquiries with a couple clubs, but nothing panned out and that’s baseball and that happens,” he said. “Nobody called me specifically, but I reached out to a couple people with some help with some other people, but nothing materialized and that’s OK.”
All in all, Franklin sounded genuinely excited about the decision.
“Coming back to Trenton is a blessing for me, really,” he said. “A lot of people might look at it as not having a chance, but you know what? I’ve got a pretty good gig. I’m very pleased to be coming back.”
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Kahnle, O'Brien among five selected in Rule 5 Draft
Two former Thunder pitchers - righthanders Tommy Kahnle and Mikey O'Brien - were among the five players in the Yankees organization selected in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. The others were outfield Ravel Santana and righties Felipe Gonzalez and Kelvin Castro.
A power reliever, the 23-year old Kahnle posted an impressive 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings last season for the Thunder, but has struggled at times with his command.The Colorado Rockies took Kahnle with the fourth pick of the major league portion of the draft, which means he will have to stick on the Rockies' major league roster the entire season or will be offered back to the Yankees for $25,000.
O'Brien, who was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the Triple-A potion of the draft, went 7-8 with a 4.12 ERA in 107 innings with the Thunder last year.
The Yankees did not select any players.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Thunder win MiLBY for Team of the Year, Akron changes name
The Thunder got another bit of recognition for their Eastern
League championship run Tuesday, being named the MiLB Fans Choice Team of the Year
after an online fan vote.
Manager Tony Franklin’s club finished second to the
Binghamton Mets in the EL East, but ended the season with nine-straight wins,
including a sweeps of the B-Mets in the EL wildcard series and the Harrisburg
Senators in the championship series. The title was the Thunder’s third in seven
years, all under Franklin.
The honor was part of the MiLB’s annual MiLBY awards. The
Thunder received 22 percent of the fan vote, besting the GCL Nationals (16
percent), Savannah Sand Gnats (10), Durham Bulls (10), Daytona Cubs (9), Salem
Red Sox (7), Quad Cities River Bandits (6), Cedar Rapids Kernels (6), Omaha
Storm Chasers (5), San Antonio Missions (4), Binghamton (3) and the Pulaski
The Thunder are also up for two other MiLBY awards, both
involving their late bat dog Chase: Promotion of the Year, for Chase’s
retirement party, and Mascot Clip of the Year, for Chase’s video tribute.
The former Akron Aeros will now be known as the Akron RubberDucks, as announced Tuesday. Here is the new logo:
Thursday, September 12, 2013
The 2013 EL Champs...a look through social media
More will be written on this incredible team and incredible run in the coming days, but tonight nobody did a better job documenting the Thunder's 2013 title than they did themselves. Here is a look:
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
ELCS Game 1 - postgame
Thunder 8, Harrisburg 2
The Thunder won their fourth straight playoff game Tuesday night to grab a 1-0 lead over the Harrisburg Senators in Game 1 in the ELCS. You can check out my game story here
and my piece on Tony Franklin's future here
(our website just got a new design, of which I approve) but below are some video and audio highlights, as well as some of my thoughts on what went down.
Five in the third
The Thunder have been one of the lightest-hitting teams in the EL all season long, and with Zoilo Almonte back with the Yankees, it looked like they were going to have trouble with a very talented Harrisburg staff. Tony Franklin put Mason Williams back in the leadoff spot after dropping him to seventh with Zoilo in town, despite some pretty terrible numbers from the top prospect (he had been just 2-for-12 in the playoffs, and in 17 regular season games with the club had an OBP of just .164). Mason, however, came through with three RBI, including this two-run double that tied the game in the third:
That ignited a five-run third inning, which also included Willams scoring on a wild pitch and a Tyler Austin RBI single (seen below) and a Jose Pirela base hit RBI.
Despite not having pitched in nine days, Nik Turley threw a solid game, allowing two runs in six innings, with 10 strikeouts. He has more to say about here: