After the Trenton Thunder's 10-4 loss to the New Britain Rock Cats Sunday night, it was announced that Thunder third baseman Brandon Laird was promoted to Triple-A Scranton.
"I was trying to put a good season together, Larid said. "Up until now, I feel like I did. Now I'm getting my chance to go up to Scranton and hopefully help them win. I was just waiting for my chance.
"I am excited about the opportunity."
Laird definitely deserved the promotion, hitting .293 with a .355 OBP, .523 slugging percentage, and .875 OPS this season in Trenton with 23 HRs and 90 RBI. For most of the season, Laird was leading the entire minor leagues in RBI.
Laird's chance was improved when Triple-A third baseman Chad Tracy opted out of his contract and became a free agent. With the Yankees possibly looking for another corner infielder, and Tracy hitting well in Scranton, the opt out was a puzzling move.
Trenton manager Tony Franklin was extremely happy for Laird, who is the utmost professional in every aspect of the game.
"The kid was putting together a fine season, and he deserves to go," Franklin said. "You would hope that you could lose four or five guys with those types of seasons. We're in the business of getting guys to higher levels as quickly as we can. What he was doing, it was hard not to notice."
Franklin also believes that Laird has what it takes to make it all the way.
"I think he's going to perform great at Triple-A," he said. "If he does, there's a chance he might be looking at the majors very soon."
Laird is a very pure, natural hitter, with power to all fields and the ability to make good consistent contact. He can hit the fastball on both sides of the plate, and also hits the breaking pitch very well.
In early June, I published a more in depth report on Laird here.
To replace Laird on the Trenton roster, the Yankees promoted Tampa second baseman Corban Joseph. He was a fourth-round pick out of high school in 2008, and is in the middle of his third season as a pro.
Joseph, who has a sweet left-handed swing and some good pop, will not excite Trenton fans the same way Laird did with massive power. However, but he will contribute a steady bat and better than average defense.
I saw Joseph during my week in Tampa, and his swing is very smooth to the ball, like he wan't even swinging the bat. The ball jumped off his bat, the way the ball does when solid contact is consistently made.
The home run I saw Joseph hit was out of the park in an eye-blink, soaring high over the right-centerfield fence. It was hit off of a good left-handed pitcher who has good control and a nice curve ball.
Corban has good power to the gaps, and for a 6'0", 170-pound player (maybe), he has surprising extra-base hit power the other way to left field.
He goes up the middle well, and as all great hitters do, Corban keeps his hands inside the ball well. One particular single off the same lefty five days later was an inside fastball, which Joseph pummelled up the middle for a clean, hard single.
He is susceptible to down and away breaking pitches, especially with two strikes. Joseph does have a good eye at the plate, taking quite a few pitches off the edge and getting the calls.
But he might take too many pitches, several times taking called strikes and getting down in the count early 0-2 or 1-2. These at bats usually ended with a strikeout or weakly hit ball.
Both promoted players are moving into a playoff push by their new team. While Laird was disappointed about not finishing the season with his current team (he has played three consecutive seasons with fellow southern-Californian Austin Romine), he is excited to get a chance in Scranton's playoff push.
"I've been here (Trenton) the whole year, and we're a close team. We're looking good for the playoffs," he said. "I wish I could be here to help them get to the playoffs and hopefully win it. I hope they do when I'm gone. But now I have to go up and help them try to win it. They're in a pennant race, just like us."
Something about Laird screams winner. In fact, he has been a winner his entire baseball life. In high school, Laird's teams won 115 games and four championships.
After high school, as a key member of the Team USA Youth, Laird helped win the Gold Medal. He then won on the Junior National team, then at Cypress College, leading his team to the title game.
In the professional ranks, he won championships with the Gulf Coast Yankees his first season, and then with High-A Tampa last year. In Charleston, Laird made a huge impression, pounding 23 home runs, including a remarkable 11 home runs in August.
However, the RiverDogs fell short in the end by a single game in the first half from making the Sally League playoffs.
This season is Laird's best by far, with power and consistency throughout the entire year. He also has his share of clutch moments. While he has put up real good seasons in the past, this season has not seen Laird get into any type of long-term slump.
Laird is a proven winner with a consistent power bat and improving glove. The Scranton Yankees can sure use a guy like that during their playoff push.
If he keeps it up, Laird will have his opportunity in the Bronx sooner rather than later.
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