Minor League Review: May

sladeH We are now two months through the baseball season and over the next couple weeks we will see the MLB First-Year Player Draft and the start of the season for the short-season clubs. Of course, before we get looking too far ahead we better take a look back at the month that was May. Overall, it was a tough one for the Yankees' affiliates, as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Tampa Yankees both had losing records for the month and have some space to make up in their divisions. The Trenton Thunder's May was a little better, thanks to a seven-game win streak to end the month. Meanwhile the Charleston RiverDogs put together a surprisingly strong May and find themselves atop their Division in the Sally League.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: Scranton went 11-18 over May, as they adjusted to losing players like Austin Romine and Vidal Nuno to the big league club for at least the month. They are currently 9.5 games behind Pawtucket in the International League North Division, in large part due to their lackluster offense. They have a .248/.339/.368 line for the season. Their average is second from the bottom in the IL and their slugging percentage is last. The RailRiders put together a decent on base percentage, thanks to their taking 240 walks, the second most in the IL. Once they get on base, however, they aren't showing much speed, as they only have 19 stolen bases. The RailRiders' pitching has provided a little relief. Their 4.33 ERA puts them in the middle of the pack. They have compiled 400 strikeouts, the fourth least in the league, while also issuing the fourth least walks (193).

While Scranton has gotten some help by the return of Ronnier Mustelier, who started slow but has picked up quite a bit. Thomas Neal continues to be a bright light in this lineup, however, Scranton is stuck with Bobby Wilson as their backstop while Romine fills in for the injured Francisco Cervelli. Wilson's .182 average in May was actually an improvement over his April numbers, while Romine was hitting well for the RailRiders prior to his promotion. Chris Bootcheck, who was virtually unhittable in April with an opposing average of .179, struggled in May and adding to the frustrations in Scranton.

Trenton Thunder: The Thunder went 17-13 in May, using an impressive win streak to cap off the month. They currently sit two games behind Binghamton in their division. Much like Scranton, the Thunder have struggled offensively, with a .247/.327/.369 line. Their average is the second lowest in the Eastern League, while their slugging percentage is dead last. They are also last in stolen bases with 27. The Thunder go down swinging much more than Tony Franklin would like to see, as they have collected 483 Ks, the second most in the EL. Trenton has put together some nice pitching performances, as their 3.85 ERA is second in the league and their 461 Ks put them in the middle of the league. Unfortunately, their are not particularly consistent, allowing 241 walks.

One of the biggest differences for Trenton right now seems to be Slade Heathcott's improvements at the plate. After an abysmal April, the young outfielder has turned things around. JR Murphy and Tyler Austin have also given the Thunder some help at the plate this month, though Ramon Flores has  slowed down offensively. If anyone had a bigger turnaround than Heathcott it would be Matt Tracy, who looked like he was throwing batting practice in April, but seemed to really find his stride in May when batters only hit him for a .165 average. Jose Ramirez also gave the Thunder some strong innings on the mound.

Tampa Yankees: Tampa went 12-16 in May and are six games behind Dunedin in the Florida State League North. Despite a tough month, Tampa has shown some improvements. The offense's slashline of .254/.332/.356 may not be particularly impressive, but they have swiped 65 bases (third most in the FSL) and drawn 196 walks (most in the FSL). Tampa has only managed to hit 24 homers, however. Tampa has shown flashes of strong pitching this year. Their 3.94 ERA is decent, but only one team has allowed fewer homers. They also struck out 447 batters, the most in the FSL.

Robert Refsnyder cooled quite a bit this month, after an incredibly hot April. Gary Sanchez continued to put up good offensive numbers in May, providing some consistency in an inconsistent lineup. Shane Greene put together some strong starts and Rigoberto Arrebato and Taylor Garrison gave them some good work out of the bullpen.

Charleston RiverDogs: The RiverDogs put together a nice May, going 19-10 and just leading Savannah for the top of the SAL South Division. The RiverDogs have put together some decent offense, with a slashline of .251/.338/.384. Their 112 doubles are second in the SAL and they have drawn 219 walks, the fourth most in the league. They also strike out often, however, whiffing 486 times this year. They seem to be doing a lot of heavy lifting on the mound, with a 3.51 ERA which is the third best in the league. They have only allowed 29 homers and have a league leading 532 strike outs.

Dante Bichette, Jr., whose April was entirely forgettable at the plate, seemed to turn a corner in May. Greg Bird was a solid force in the lineup this past month, hitting .281/.402/.517. Rafael De Paula had a good April, but he shut down opposing offenses in May. He went 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA  of over six starts. Cesar Vargas also gave the RiverDogs some strong innings on the mound.