Trenton Thunder

Trenton Thunder Recap: Thunder Unlock Victory Against Keys

As the calendar prepares to flip to July and the first half of the MLB Draft League season marches on, the Trenton Thunder stopped their 2-game skid with a 4-2 win over the Frederick Keys at Trenton Thunder Ballpark on Tuesday night. With the brief two-game series coming to a close Wednesday night at home, let's now look back at the good and the bad of the series, nominate the three stars of the series, and take a trip on the road ahead for the Trenton Thunder.

The Good

The offense for the Trenton Thunder was nothing short of stout and spectacular in the opener on Tuesday night as they mustered 10 hits against the Frederick pitching staff. Leading the way was Colton Becker as he went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a pair of stolen bases. The bullpen was also on form as they held the Keys off the scoreboard through four innings of work, allowing just one hit, with middle reliever Channing Austin leading the way as he notched three strikeouts through 2 innings of work. Closer Brenton Fisher shut the door on the Keys in the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning to seal the victory with a strikeout along the way.

The Bad

One bad thing that can be picked out from this brief back-to-back would be a recurring theme for the Trenton Thunder this season, and that would be fielding errors. The Thunder had but two errors on Tuesday night, one of which was a big one. That came in the home half of the second inning as Allan Gil-Fernandez reached by way of an error by left fielder Tanner Chun that allowed Gil-Fernandez to go to second and score on the next batter.

This has been an issue for the Trenton Thunder so far this season, and while the errors seem to have dropped significantly as the first half has gone along, errors that have led to opposing runs still need to be curbed for the Thunder to recover from their slow start.

Three Stars

Colton Becker - Trenton Thunder Shortstop

The Morehead State product has recovered from his slow start to the season as his 2-for-3 performance on Tuesday night bumped his batting average up to .250 on the young season. His bat speed through the zone and his defense have improved as the first half has gone along, now he just needs to develop behind the plate to be a standout utility player. Look for him to go in the third round come July in Arlington.

Current MLB player comparison: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cincinnati Reds)

Drew Christo - Trenton Thunder Pitcher

Christo, the right-hander from Nebraska, was called upon to pitch the opener Tuesday night for the Thunder, and he was absolutely dominant. Through five innings of work on the mound, he allowed two runs (1 earned) on four hits but set down six. His four-seam fastball topped out at 95, mixing that in with a cutter at a top velocity of 89, 84 MPH on his curveball, and a sinker at 86.

At the Major League level, he'll need to develop more control over his cutter and curveball. His sinker had great left-to-right action and got a good swing-and-miss rate on his four-seamer as well. The projection right now is Christo could be a late fourth to early fifth-round pick.

Current MLB player comparison: Sean Manaea (New York Mets)

Channing Austin - Trenton Thunder Pitcher

The right-handed pitching product of Southern California got the win Tuesday night, and for good reason - his secondary pitches fooled the Keys' lineup consistently through two innings of work on the mound, yielding three strikeouts and only allowing one hit.

The one pitch he needs to develop good control of is his four-seam fastball. While he topped his velocity at 94 MPH, he just couldn't quite get that pitch to find the zone consistently. Once he has that pitch under control, he could be one of the more dominant relievers at the Major League level. The Aroldis Chapman comparisons aren't there yet, but give it time, and they will be.

Current MLB player comparison: Nathan Eovaldi (Texas Rangers)

The Road Ahead

The Trenton Thunder will now head on the road for a four-game series against the West Virginia Black Bears in a rematch of last year's Draft League Championship starting Thursday night before returning home June 25th to start a three-game set against the State College Spikes at Trenton Thunder Ballpark. First pitch for all three games is 7 PM.

Be sure to check out JerseySportingNews.com for updates all season long!

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