TRENTON – The Trenton Thunder produced three runs in the second inning, which would be all they needed to defeat the New Britain Rock Cats, 4-1, on Tuesday night at ARM & HAMMER Park.
A highly-anticipated matchup between Luis Severino (#34 overall, Baseball America) and Jose Berrios (#27 overall, Baseball America) was short-lived. Berrios, rated by Baseball America as the third-best prospect in the Minnesota Twins system, exited shaking his right arm with two outs in the second inning. After sitting between 94 and 96 miles per hour in the first inning, Berrios’ last three fastballs were clocked at 89, 90, and 89 MPH respectively, adding to the fear that Berrios had suffered an arm injury. After the game, New Britain manager Jeff Smith claimed the removal was “precautionary,” though did mention tightness as one of the reasons for removing Berrios.
Before Berrios departed, the Thunder touched him up for three runs on four hits in the second inning. Casey Stevenson’s one-out double brought home Tyler Austin, and the floodgates opened for Trenton from there.
The three runs were more than enough support for Luis Severino. The top-rated prospect in the New York Yankees farm system, Severino was dominant in his third Eastern League start. Multiple reports had him sitting between 94 and 97 MPH with his fastball, and scouts were impressed with his slider and changeup command.
“I think I pitched very well,” Severino told the media following his outing. “I felt comfortable on the mound.”
Severino’s night concluded having allowed only an unearned run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings. The 20-year-old Dominican product walked a pair and, but struck out seven New Britain hitters on the evening. He threw 55 of his 88 pitches for strikes, while generating 14 swings and misses.
“I thought he was throwing better tonight,” Trenton manager Tony Franklin said “He had much more command of his fastball tonight. [He] used it well, used it up [in the zone]. He can throw the ball by guys.”
“As you go on, you look for that game where everything just kind of clicks,” Franklin added. “It’s starting to get better each outing.”
After Severino exited, the Thunder bullpen would combine to toss 3 1/3 hitless innings. They were also assisted by Mason Williams, who tacked on an insurance run with an RBI single in the seventh inning.
Severino was not the only impressive prospect in Thunder pinstripes on Tuesday. Leadoff hitter Jake Cave stroked two hits and produced a RBI. He has now hit safely in six straight games, and 10 of 12 since being promoted from High-A Tampa following the Eastern League All-Star Break. An underrated prospect in the mold of Brett Gardner, Cave’s second hit was the result of a phenomenal hustle up the first base line on a bunt single.
Trenton and New Britain wrap up their three-game series with a Wednesday matinee at ARM & HAMMER Park. The Thunder will send left-hander Dan Camarena (0-4, 7.85 ERA) to the mound, while fellow southpaw Jason Wheeler (2-3, 4.21 ERA) will be on the hill for the Rock Cats. First pitch is slated for 12:05 PM.