2013 Organizational Review: Brooklyn Cyclones

cecchini

Normally, the lower levels on the minor leagues serve the purpose of developing young players fresh out of the June MLB draft and to get them accustomed to life in professional baseball.

But for the Brooklyn Cyclones, making the playoffs has basically been a perennial feat.

However, the 2013 summer short season ended without a postseason berth for the Cyclones for just the fourth time in the team’s 13-year existence.

It is important to note though that the team has now finished at or above .500 (38-37) in all 13 of its seasons, making the Cyclones one of only four teams in affiliated baseball – the Arizona League Giants, the Elizabethton Twins and the New York Yankees – to never finish below .500 since 2001.

Right from the start of the summer, it seemed the Cyclones just couldn’t find their rhythm. Though it’s by no means an excuse, the weather certainly didn’t cooperate at MCU Park in Coney Island the first few weeks.

Almost every home game, the Cyclones were forced to wait out one or even two rain delays. And in games where there were no weather delays, Brooklyn wound up playing a number of extra-inning games, including a marathon 16-inning game.

Manager Rich Donnelly continuously said, “That’s baseball, there is no clock,” in response to questions about how to deal with the delays and extra-inning games. But he did say that the start of this season was the strangest given the circumstances in all his years in professional baseball.

Despite not getting off to a great start, the Cyclones began picking up their game and were in the playoff hunt right until the end of the season. That’s all you can ask of a young team finding their way.

Mets’ great Lee Mazzilli’s son, second baseman L.J. Mazzilli, led the Cyclones with a .278 batting average. He sat above .300 for most of the summer, but a hand injury late in the season caused him to cool off down the stretch. He also led the team in RBI with 34.

Mets’ 2012 first-round draft pick, shortstop Gavin Cecchini, had a solid all-around season. His bat was a bit cool to start the year, but once he returned from a high ankle sprain, he was red hot offensively. He rattled off a 16-game hitting streak and began spraying line drives all over the field. He finished the year hitting .273.

But for Cecchini, his strength is his defense, and he showed that this summer. He has a great arm and gets to a lot of balls with his range. His glove can carry him to the next level, but he’ll have to maintain a steady bat.

After an extremely cold start, right fielder James Roche rebounded to take some strides offensively. He led the team with five home runs and displayed good power to the gaps. But he must cut down on his strikeouts to be considered a legitimate prospect.

Miller-Diaz Brooklyn Eagle

While the Cyclones’ offense was streaky, the pitching really held its own this summer. Starting pitchers Miller Diaz (2.03), Rob Gsellman (2.06), Carlos Valdez (2.58) and John Gant (2.89) all recorded an ERA under 3.00. Diaz, Gsellman and Gant were each named to the All-Star team.

Diaz led the staff with seven wins and 87 strikeouts. He sometimes had trouble putting batters away, which led to some high pitch counts, but the talent is there.

Gsellman seemed to be the hard luck pitcher on the staff, as he barely received any run support. But he still pitched well enough to be able to make an impact at the next level next season.

Akeel Morris, who struggled in extended spring training, really impressed the Mets’ brass, so much so that Jeff Wilpon ventured to MCU Park to check him out. With a fastball sitting in the low-to-mid 90s, Morris could have a future as a big-league reliever.

It seems he still considers himself as a starter, but he thrived in a long-relief role this summer. He finished 4-1 with a 1.00 ERA.

Other relievers John Mincone and Johnny Magliozzi found success in the closer’s role. Mincone was named an All-Star after posting a 1.47 ERA and six saves, but a lower back injury ended his season early. Magliozzi stepped right in and saved nine games with a 1.17 ERA.

Though the Cyclones’ season did not continue deeper into September, the team still accomplished what it set out to do at the beginning of the season: provide an entertaining quality of baseball to an area of Brooklyn that was hit hard last fall during Hurricane Sandy.

The “Meaningful Mondays,” in which a portion of each ticket sold went to local charities aiding in Sandy recovery, were a nice touch to help the surrounding communities still in need from the superstorm.

For the 13th consecutive season, the Cyclones led the New York-Penn League in attendance.

It was a fun summer at Coney Island, and we’ll hopefully be seeing some of these faces at Citi Field in the near future – especially some of the talented young pitchers to go along with the already-talented crop of pitchers the Mets are developing.

(Photos: Brooklyn Eagle, MiLB)

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About Jim Mancari 255 Articles
Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He earned a Master's degree in journalism from Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Be sure to visit http://www.jimmancari.com/
  • I plan on attending my first Cyclones game this summer. Very excited to see the park, and to see Dom Smith mash. Heck, maybe I’ll even try to make the All-Star game there.

  • Jeff Roland

    morris was more of a piggyback starter as opposed to a long reliever, in fact his last 3 appearances of the season were all as a starter

  • Jeff Roland

    you might have to go to savannah to see smith

  • Dark HelMet

    Man i hope Dom Smith goes to BK too

  • Dark HelMet

    You may be right, and for his case and the Mets case, i hope you are.. but for the fans in NY’s case, I really hope we get a chance to see this young guy hit. It’d be smart for the Mets to have him play at least a few games there if only to use his name for merch if he’s likely to become the stud scouts say he can be.

  • That works for me. I actually watched a few Texas Tech games to catch Marquez. The kid is a remarkable athlete.

  • Hey I hear Savannah is beautiful, so I’m ok with that.

  • Matt Mosher

    I really hope they put out a stronger team this summer. That roster last year was weak.

  • oleosmirf

    Yea the college guys from the 2013 draft especially were underwhelming. Not sure there’s many major leaguers in that crop although Champ Stuart should be in Brooklyn this year, no?

    Kingsport had a good year though last year so they should be getting some good players like Rosario and obviously the pitching will be good as always.

  • oleosmirf

    I think his advanced development is more important, but Lakewood isn’t that far away so you can still see him in the area.

  • BadBadLeroyBrown

    Yeah Im actually over Marquez….

    He is clearly fully dedicated to football…And by the time his football career is over he will be raw with not a lot of baseball under his belt and a lot older.

    I think instead of Marquez, Champ Stuart will be patrolling CF…He has speed to burn and he has shown the ability to get on base…I really like this pick last year

    I see him Rosario and Dom Smith in BK next year although Id rather Dom playing full season in A-ball.

    Do you have any under the radar favorite position players in the low minors?

  • jason bay

    Stay downtown if you go Henry.

  • jason bay

    FYI Leroy, Stuart takes a step back on every fly ball. Not sure he will be a CF candidate.

  • Any recommendations of stuff to do and places to eat??

  • jason bay

    Downtown I’ve stayed at the Residence Inn and the Thunderbird. Midtown leaves you too far away and cars are a hassle both in parking, crime and partying.

    The touristy River street area is the place to be at night and the Historic district is worth a look in the day time. Both places you can walk to or even take the hop on, hop off trolly and just get off where ever you want on a 2-3 day pass.

    Tybee Island is a beach kind of area but the cab rides will kill you.

    Had a couple memorable times at Kevin Barry’s and Wet Willie’s. Check the Live Wire music hall website to see what’s on. River tour is worthwhile for a slow afternoon. Buckets of oysters at the bar cost about 7 and they are huge. Maybe 25 of them. Do your best to avoid using the car, it’s just not worth it.

    Not as similar to Charleston as i was expecting.

  • I need to bookmark this post. Thanks for the heads up and insight.

  • Brooklyn Cowbell Guy

    With Dumelly out as skipper, I think this season will be better. Dumelly never took risks & thats why we sucked last season. He even had an ump overturn a HR call that cost the Cyclones the tying run in a game.