By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
TAHNAJ Thomas has excelled in his role as a reliever in AA baseball, while Warren Saunders and BJ Murray overcame slow starts to the season to produce recent productive streaks at the plate for their respective clubs.
Through eight games this season, Thomas has gone 2-1 in 9.2 innings pitched, with nine strikeouts and a 0.93 ERA for the Altoona Curve, the Pitsburgh Pirates’ Double-A affiliate.
In his latest appearance, Thomas suffered his first loss of the year in a 2-1 decision to the Eerie Seawolves Saturday in 10 innings, May 7 at UPMC Park in Eerie, Pennsylvania.
Thomas gave up two hits as the Curve fell to 11-15, but the 22-year-old 6’5” right hand pitcher, currently ranked no.13 in the Pirates organisation according to MLB Pipeline, has delivered a series of impressive performances.
He had a season high three strikeouts in two innings of an 11-5 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on April 21 and got his first win of the season in the series finale against the Fisher Cats on April 24.
He picked up his second win of the season in the current series opener against the Seawolves on May 3.
Thomas was one of the club’s non-roster invitees to major league Spring Training in Bradenton, Florida last month.
He spent last season at the High A level for the first time with the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
Saunders is in his first season at the High-A level with the New York Mets affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones. He doubled in yesterday’s 4-3 loss to the Aberdeen IronBirds at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland, to extend his hit streak to five games and bring his batting average to .222.
After starting the season 3-28 through the first nine games, he had a strong conclusion to conclude April in the series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
In game two, he went 2-4 with a pair of doubles on April 28 and took that momentum into the series against Aberdeen when he had his multi-hit game. The 23-year old 6’3” utility player has a .300 OBP with 10 hits and two RBI thus far this season.
In the preseason, Saunders received the call up to join the New York Mets for Spring Training in the Grapefruit League with a sharp line drive to left field for his first hit with the big league club. In 2021, he spent the season with the St.Lucie Mets in the Low-A Southwest League where he hit .249 with a .632 OPS, 44 RBI and three home runs.
Murray had an 0-8 start to his first season at the Low-A level with the Myrtle beach Pelicans, but the Chicago Cubs prospect has now tallied hits in seven of his last nine games, including his second multi hit game in the current series against the Winston- Salem Red Sox.
He appeared as a designated hitter and finished 2-3 with two runs in Saturday (May 7) night’s 9-6 win over the Red Sox.
The Pelicans improved to 18-7. He previously earned Player of the Game honours when he finished 2-3 with a home run, double, an RBI and three runs scored in the Pelicans’ 9-1 win over the Columbia Fireflies, April 30 at TicketReturn. com Field in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Murray began his day with a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning. He also doubled in the fourth inning.
He had his second multi hit game of the season in the series opener against the Red Sox on May 4 when he went 3-4 with two doubles, five RBI and four runs in a 24-6 win.
Murray was selected by the Cubs with the 22nd pick in the 15th round, no. 454 overall in the 2021 MLB Draft and spent his first season in the Arizona Complex League.