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Tromp not sulking about being in Williamsport
June 17, 2014 - Mitch Rupert
The slight shrug of his shoulders spoke volumes. Wearing a Crosscutters uniform for the second consecutive year during the team's media day wasn't exactly what the 20-year old had in mind.
He was a New York-Penn League all-star for the Crosscutters last year, and even graduated to Lakewood in the South Atlantic League before the close of the 2013 season. He had begun to turn heads among Philadelphia Phillies minor league fans as a toolsy outfielder with a ton of upside.
So standing in foul territory on the first base side of Bowman Field on an abnormally cool June afternoon, Tromp chose his words carefully about the disappointment of repeating a level.
“It's not easy, but you have to do whatever they tell you to do,” Tromp said. “They want me to come back here and play every day, and that's what I'm going to do and do my best. Hopefully I have a good, or even a great year, maybe.”
Tromp's already put up a good, or maybe even a great, year in the New York-Penn League. He hit .299 in 33 games for the Crosscutters last summer, OPSing just a shade under .800.
It was the kind of performance out of a 19-year old outfielder which tends to vault him up prospect rankings. Maybe the only thing lacking from his breakout year was a touch of power in his swing. He homered once for the Crosscutters, the third of his four career home runs.
He's not the kind of player who's going to hit home runs in bunches the way teammates Zach Green and Dylan Cozens did a year ago. But don't be fooled, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Tromp packs a punch with his swing. In the Cutters' season opener at Bowman Field against State College, Tromp launched a ball high off the wall in center field, just to the left of the three numbers which have been retired by the franchise.
Tromp's explosiveness as a hitter has shown through in brilliant flashes like that double to center field since he was signed as an amateur free agent out of Aruba in 2011. Only in his time with Williamsport last year has he been in the lineup consistently.
In Lakewood this year, he had to battle for playing time among players like Cozens (8 HRs, 30 RBIs), Samuel Hiciano (.273, 6 HRs, 28 RBIs), and 18-year old center fielder Carlos Tocci (MLB.com's seventh-best Phillies prospect). And that was all after former supplemental first-round draft pick Larry Greene Jr. went down with an injury.
He comes back to Williamsport with the promise of daily playing time. He was in center field for the first three Crosscutters' games, and was back out there again Monday night against Jamestown. He has just two hits in his first three games, but has driven in three runs, the most on the team.
“I know I can be consistent, I think it will be good for me if I can play every day because I see myself as an every-day player. I can do a lot of things and make a lot of things happen.”
He's an impressive defensive player, another in a line of very good defensive center fielders the Cutters have fielded since becoming a Phillies affiliate. He gets tremendous jumps on the ball off the bat and has great closing speed to the baseball in the gaps.
He possesses one of the better throwing arms in the outfield, and, offensively, he's capable of stealing bases. He's a top of the order kind of hitter, and the pop in his bat combined with his speed is why manager Shawn Williams has him hitting in the two-hole behind Cord Sandberg.
Tromp is well aware of all that he is capable of. It's not a cockiness, but a confidence. It's why there was that shrug of his shoulders on media day when he was asked if he was disappointed to be back in Williamsport. A demotion is never easy to take, but he's grasped that it could be a move to give him a better shot of again climbing up the Phillies' minor league system.
“I just have to do whatever it is I have to do,” Tromp said. “Don't come out here and try to be good enough, just do your best every day and good things will happen.”
Manny Martinez is different than anybody else the Crosscutters have in their bullpen. He showed why Monday night in a 6-3 loss to State College when he created and worked out of a jam in the eighth inning.
He's the only pitcher on the team's staff which is going to consistently sit at 96 or 97 mph with his fastball like he did Monday night. This isn't the first time Martinez has flashed that kind of velocity for the Crosscutters.
He spent the entire 2013 season in Williamsport, appearing in 19 games, just one year after splitting time between the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the Crosscutters. But through all that time, the now 22-year old right-hander has struggled to consistently harness some of the best stuff in the Phillies' minor league system.
Not only did his fastball sit at 94-97 Monday night, but it has an incredible amount of run to the arm side, movement created when the Phillies' minor league staff lowered his arm angle in the middle of last season. On top of that, he throws a hard-breaking slider which just seems unfair after trying to pound the inside corner with a hard, riding fastball.
“He definitely has plus stuff,” Cutters manager Shawn Williams said. “He's got that good fastball. We just want to see some consistency. I think it's in there. I know it's in there. But we get to see some flashes of some seriously good stuff.”
Martinez's career is spelled out in two telling statistics. In three-plus years as a Phillies minor leaguer, he's averaged 8.8 strikeouts per 9 innings. He's also averaged 4.1 walks per nine innings, while allowing nearly a hit per inning. His 1.321 WHIP is high for a player with true swing-and-miss kind of stuff.
Monday, his first pitch to State College's Brian O'Keefe rode in high and tight at 97 mph. The next pitch hit O'Keefe. After recording a strikeout on a fastball up in the zone, Martinez walked Jhohan Acevedo on four pitches. A fielder's choice ground ball got the second out before he struck out No. 3 hitter Jake Stone on a 96 mph fastball.
His career has constantly been full of those kinds of performances. Exceptionally good mixed with exceptionally inconsistent.
“He's trying to be aggressive and get command with that fastball,” Williams said. “Since they moved him arm slot lower, he has gotten better. His command has gotten better and he has that better movement. All it takes is getting more innings and harnessing that movement.”
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