Mets Merized Online » Brooklyn Cyclones Sat, 14 Jan 2017 00:40:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2017 Top 30 Prospects: No. 4 Thomas Szapucki, LHP Wed, 04 Jan 2017 15:30:39 +0000 Photo: Allen Greene, Kingsport Mets

Photo: Allen Greene, Kingsport Mets

#4 Thomas Szapucki

Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 205 Level: Rookie Kingsport Mets & Short-Season A Brooklyn Cyclones

B/T: R/L Age: 06/12/1996 (20) Age Dif: -1.4 (w/ Brooklyn)

Acquired: Drafted by the Mets in the 5th Round of the 2015 MLB Draft (149th overall pick)

Last Year: #24

2016 Statistics: 9 G, 52 IP, 4-3 W-L, 1.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, .145 BAA, 86/20 K/BB, 2 HR

148 picks had gone by in the 2015 MLB Draft before a local kid from Toms River, New Jersey was selected by the New York Mets in the fifth round for $375,500 out of William T. Dwyer High School in Florida. Thomas Szapucki may not be a household name to all Met fans yet, but he sure will be.

The 20-year-old left-hander entered the 2016 season with just 2.1 innings under his belt as a professional, appearing in three games for the GCL Mets in 2015. While his debut was underwhelming, tossing a third of an inning allowing four runs on four hits with no strikeouts, his next two appearances went much smoother, totaling two innings of one hit ball with three strikeouts.

The Mets sent their heralded young prospect to the fall instructional league to work on the mechanics in his delivery. Szapucki worked on raising his arm to a three-quarters position, which allowed for less stress on his shoulder and arm and improved the velocity on his fastball, which regularly sits in the mid 90s and can reach the upper 90s as well.

The instructional league seemed to do wonders for Szapucki, who entered 2016 with the Kingsport Mets. Luis Rivera, the Kingsport manager, noted how poised he was for his age, adding that Szapucki can have a very bright future because his repertoire plays well.

That bright future was on display for his 2016 debut on June 23 for Kingsport, where Szapucki tossed six-innings of two hit ball, while striking out 13 batters. He struck out the side twice on the night, however, Kingsport fell to Elizabethton 4-3. Sazpucki would go on to make four more starts for Kingsport, allowing no more than two-runs in a game (July 4), and had strikeout totals of six, eleven, eight, and nine.

On July 21, the Mets challenged Szapucki and promoted him to Short-A Brooklyn Cyclones, where he was nearly a year and a half younger than the rest of the competition. He made his Brooklyn debut three days later against the Staten Island Yankees, where Szapucki went 5.1 shutout innings on four hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts. His ensuing three starts all registered double-digit strikeouts, however, he would have trouble with command by walking 11 batters in his four Cyclone starts. His season would soon be cut short due to a lower back issue.

Overall, Szapucki’s 2016 season was about as dominant as a 20-year-old could have: a 4-3 record in 52 innings pitched, with a sparkling 1.38 ERA (which would’ve been the lowest ERA among all non-complex short season pitchers had he qualified), and a 0.88 WHIP.

In September, the Mets awarded their young lefty with the Sterling Award for Kingsport, the equal for the Most Valuable Player in each Mets affiliate. Szapucki was one of only two Met pitchers to be honored with a Sterling Award, along with Organizational Pitcher of the Year, P.J. Conlon.

The Mets have become a model in Major League Baseball on developing young, hard-throwing starting pitching. Szapucki is the latest prospect to emerge with a ton of intrigue and excitement, and will continue to work on limiting the walks and utilizing his changeup that he showed off in Brooklyn.

“I’m definitely very happy with how my changeup is progressing,” Szapucki told “Earlier in the year, I didn’t really have a changeup. I mostly just used it for effect and to change the batter’s bat speed. But now, I consider it to be an out pitch.”

Mike M adds - 

It was an unbelievable breakout season for the young lefty that had double digit strikeouts in five of his nine starts and held opponents to a measly .460 OPS.

Szapucki showed off a plus breaking ball in 2016, a sweeping curveball that was tough on lefties and righties alike. The combination of a plus fastball and curveball from the young lefty gives him top of the rotation potential.

2017 Outlook:

Much attention will be placed on Szapucki in 2017, but the future looks once again promising for yet another hard throwing pitcher out of the Mets farm system. He could start the season with the Columbia Fireflies, but it shouldn’t be long before getting promoted to the St. Lucie Mets.


1. Amed Rosario, SS

2. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP

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Alonso Ranked Fifth Best Power Hitter in ’16 Draft Class Tue, 18 Oct 2016 10:14:06 +0000 peter alonso

Baseball America released its 2016 Draft Report Card on Monday, compiling lists of various top five categories, including fastest runner, best defensive player, and best pure hitter.

Under the category of “Best Power Hitter”, the Mets’ 2nd round draft pick Peter Alonso is ranked fifth among this year’s drafted players. Alonso, 21, is the lone Mets player to be listed under any of BA’s categories this year.

Alonso was taken with the 64th overall pick this year by the Mets, after a breakout season with the Florida Gators in which he slashed .374/.469/.659 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI in 58 games.

The right-handed slugger was assigned to Brooklyn after agreeing to a $909,200 contract, where he played in 30 games for the Cyclones before breaking his right pinky finger on August 10, after he slid into second base awkwardly for his 12th double on the season. In 109 at-bats for Brooklyn, Alonso slashed .321/.382/.587, with five homers, 21 RBI, and 20 runs scored. He led the Cyclones in doubles (12), slugging (.587), OPS (.969), and tied for first in homers with Brandon Brosher (5).

Alonso killed lefty pitching in Brooklyn, with a 1.331 OPS against southpaws compared to .721 against right-handers. Alonso posted solid numbers with runners in scoring position, slashing .433/.441/.900, with three homers and 16 RBI in 30 at-bats.

Alonso could progress quickly through the Mets’ system, similar to Michael Conforto who was also drafted out of college in his junior year, and was 21-years-old when he made his professional debut with Brooklyn. Alonso also has experience playing in high pressured games, as the Gators made the College World Series in back-to-back years in 2015-16. has Alonso ranked as the 13th best Mets prospect in 2016, and had the following to say about his raw power and the small tweak he made in his swing for better results at the plate:

“Alonso was making consistent, hard contact for the Gators as his junior season progressed. He’s always had raw power, but didn’t always look like he could tap into it consistently. He shortened his swing and began to use the whole field more effectively, showing extra-base pop to the opposite field. Much of his success stems from a more open stance which has helped him get his hips through more consistently.”

The six-foot-three slugger is one to keep an eye on next year, as he could be climbing the minor league ranks and pushing Dominic Smith at first base. Smith is the better defender at the position, however, Alonso’s raw power is intriguing and if he continues to develop as an overall hitter as he was doing with the Cyclones, then we might see some competition at first in the very near future.

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Mets Fire Long-Time Minor League Medical Coordinator Mike Herbst Tue, 20 Sep 2016 15:40:40 +0000 mike-herbst

The Mets have fired their long-time medical coordinator for the minor leagues, Mike Herbst, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Rubin.

Herbst had been head trainer Ray Ramirez’s assistant at the big-league level in between his stints as the minor league medical coordinator. He also served as the athletic trainer for the Brooklyn Cyclones back in 2001.

I’m sure many will read more into this than is warranted, but after 15+ years Sandy Alderson decided it was time for a change. It will be interesting to see if this is just the first of some dominoes to fall.

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Peter Alonso Breaks Finger, But Wait ‘Til Next Year Fri, 12 Aug 2016 17:38:30 +0000 peter alonso

Brooklyn Cyclones’ slugging first baseman Peter Alonso will miss the remainder of the 2016 season due to a broken right pinky finger. Alonso suffered the injury in Tuesday night’s home game, where in the third inning he was trying to avoid a tag at second base, and jammed his pinky while sliding into second safely for his 12th double on the season.

Although Alonso will miss the remaining few games the Cyclones have left on their schedule, he left an imprint on this season in only 30 games played.

Alonso, 21, is a brawny right-handed first baseman who was drafted in the 2nd round of this year’s MLB draft, 64th overall.

Before injuring himself in Tuesday’s game, he had a breakout game the night before at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy, New York, home of the Ti-City Valleycats. Alonso went 4 for 5 on the night, with three RBI and three runs scored, and was only missing a triple to complete the cycle.

With Alonso’s season coming to a close prematurely, his impressive stat line in only 30 games looks like this: .321/.382/.587 with five homers, 21 RBI, 20 runs scored, and 11 walks in 109 at-bats in the New York Penn League.

Alonso was selected 64th overall out of the University of Florida, where he played a huge part in leading the No. 1 overall national seed Gators to the College World Series.  Although they lost an elimination game against Texas Tech at the end of June, Alonso and the Gators had a tremendous season, going 52-16 overall, and reaching 40 wins faster than any team in the college’s history.

For his part, Alonso played in 58 games, starting in 57 of them, and put up a line of .374/.469/.659 with 14 homers, and 60 RBI. He also had as many walks (31) as strikeouts (31).

Alonso also revealed his selflessness during the 2016 season, when on May 13 he was hit by a 96-mph fastball against Vanderbilt, fracturing his fifth metacarpal. There was thought of Alonso not returning this season, however, he knew his teammates needed him for their push to the CWS, and returned on June 3 in a win against Bethune-Cookman, going 3 for 4 with two homers and three RBI. Not a bad way to make a return from injury!

Alonso also returned just days before the 2016 MLB draft, potentially harming his draft status by returning too early from an injury.

Gators Head Coach Kevin O’ Sullivan knew that he had a special player on his team, especially once Alonso returned to the lineup sooner than expected.

“A lot of players might’ve quite honestly not rushed back,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He’s been very selfless . . . It’s a story I’ll tell forever. Let’s do everything we can with our hand and get back to help our team win. He put his team first before the draft.” (Newsday)

In the eight ensuing games, Alonso went 16 for 32, with five homers and 13 RBI, and had multi-hit games in six of the eight games played.

peter alonso

Alonso had been playing first base for the Cyclones before he sustained the injury, and had been batting cleanup since he made his Brooklyn debut on July 9. He’s mashed against lefties to the tune of a 1.331 OPS in 44 at-bats, compared to his .721 OPS against righties in 65 at-bats. So there is still some fine-tuning needed for the six-foot-three masher.

And how about this for Met fans who have had to watch the big club’s ineptitude for hitting with RISP, Alonso has a line of .433/.441/.900 with three homers and 16 RBI in 30 at-bats with RISP.

Alonso has a great work ethic and is determined to keep improving both offensively and defensively. He was a third baseman in high school, but shifted across the diamond to first base once he suited up for the Gators, and has continued to work on his craft at first. But the young slugger knew the Mets had shown interest in him for several months, and said this when learning the Mets were keen to signing him.

“I had a meeting in May with one of their scouts and he said they were going to do everything they can to get me in the organization,” Alonso said. “I want to make it worth their while for believing in me and try to get better each day.” (

In the same article for, he spoke on how he grew up watching Jose Reyes and David Wright, and has followed the Mets in recent years as they went from perennial losers to National League Champions in 2015. He also quipped that he was happy the Mets selected him in the draft, because he would not look forward to facing the Mets’ vaunted starting rotation.

Alonso was selected along with shortstop Colby Woodmansee, and RHP Harol Gonzalez to represent the Cyclones in the New York Penn League All Star game on August 16 in Hudson Valley. Another accomplishment to add to an already successful, yet busy year for the 21-year old prospect.

Alonso might take a similar path to the majors as Michael Conforto did back in 2015. It might not take much seasoning for him to be on the way to Queens, especially since he had three years of collegiate play like Conforto had (although Alonso had his 2015 season was cut short due to injury), but Alonso is certainly a player for fans to keep an eye on, and add to the growing list of the exciting youth that might make their mark sooner rather than later at Citi Field.

The Mets will have some options when it comes to first base for the future, as they have Lucas Duda returning from a stress fracture in his lower back, one in which has been slow to heal and resulted in an extra 30 days of rest for the slugger. He’s entering his final year of arbitration this offseason, and doesn’t stand to see a big bump in salary due to his limited play this year. The Mets also have top-prospect Dominic Smith raking in Double A Binghamton, and expect him to open 2017 with Triple A Las Vegas. Smith plays excellent defense and has a leg up on Alonso in that category, but Alonso’s offensive propensity makes him worth keeping an eye on, and gives the Mets another option as a potential impact player for their burgeoning future.

Here’s to a speedy recovery for the young Alonso, who showed a ton of promise in his first professional month of play. While the limited sample size needs to be taken with a grain of salt, Alonso has definitely put his name out there for all Met fans to be on the lookout for, and gives hope and promise that he can be a big league contributor in the not so distant future for the orange and blue.

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Justin Dunn Reminiscent Of Young Doc Gooden Wed, 13 Jul 2016 15:34:06 +0000 justin dunn 2

To say Justin Dunn‘s 2016 was anything but exciting would be an understatement.

He pitched for Boston College as both a starter and reliever this year, appearing in 18 games while starting eight of them. Dunn compiled a record of 4-2, and pitched to a 2.06 ERA in 65.2 innings. His team was also the first New England team since UConn in 2009 to advance to the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, BC’s season came to end on June 12, when they lost to Miami 9-4, and watched as Miami advanced to the College World Series.

Then on June 9, Dunn and his teammates were sitting at a restaurant at Coconut Grove, Florida, watching the MLB Network as the draft was underway. Dunn and his teammates sat with bated breath as the first 18 picks went by.

The New York Mets were next up with their pick, heading to the podium to make the 19th selection. As soon as Justin Dunn’s name was announced by Commissioner Rob Manfred, the video captured Dunn and his teammates going crazy inside the restaurant, jumping up and down and celebrating with the elated 20-year-old right hander.

Boston College coach Mike Gambino knew there was a good chance that Dunn would be selected in the MLB Draft, and since his team was down in Florida to play in the Super Regional against Miami, he thought it would be a good idea to have a venue where Dunn and his “brothers” (as he calls his teammates) and family members could all watch the news together.

“When we all knew this was a possibility and knew where we were going to be,” Gambino said. “That reaction that you saw out of those boys — you know, went nuts — they were so excited for him. It shows a lot about who Justin is and how much his teammates love him, and it shows how close-knit the team in this program is.” (

Just over a week later, Dunn and the Mets came to terms on a deal, with a signing bonus of $2.3788 million, which was the recommended allotment for that pick.

Although Dunn grew up a Yankees fan, he was born and raised in Freeport, Long Island, except for his high school years playing at a boarding school in Connecticut. Dunn acknowledged that he and his family would make trips to Shea Stadium and Citi Field, just a short drive from home.

“I still live in Freeport. It’s about a 30-, 40-minute trip from here,” Dunn said. “So I came to Citi Field and Shea a lot over my years. I’ve loved the atmosphere ever since I was a little kid. It’s been one of my favorite stadiums to watch a game at.” (ESPN)

The Mets are hoping that Dunn can add himself to the ever growing list of pitchers who have hailed from Long Island, including Blue Jay’s starter Marcus Stroman and current Mets left-hander Steven Matz. The Mets also selected another L.I. pitcher, Anthony Kay with the 31st pick in this year’s draft as well. Kay has yet to sign with the Mets.

“A lot of people think Long Island can’t play baseball, but look at the track record. You have Marcus [Stroman] and then you have Steven Matz, and they’re doing pretty well in the league,” Dunn said. “You have guys like Keith Osik that have played, and other guys. This is something that should be known, that Long Island can play. I’m just happy to have my little part of it.”

Dunn was assigned to Brooklyn to play with the Cyclones, the Class A Short Season team in the New York-Penn League. Dunn made his debut on July 4, while facing the Batavia Muckdogs on the road. Dunn came on in relief of Cyclones’ starter Merandy Gonzalez, who went seven-innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts. Dunn went the last two innings, giving up two hits while striking out two.

justin dunn

Dunn would make his home debut in front of more than 20 friends and family members at MCU Park on July 10, picking up his first career win in relief, tossing two innings without issuing a hit, walking two, and striking out one. Having so many close loved ones at the game meant a lot to the 2016 first rounder.

“Basically my entire family was here today at the game,” Dunn said. “So it was good to pitch in front of them. A lot of people haven’t seen me pitch since I was young, so for them to be here for my first win at home was awesome.”

Dunn featured four pitches that night, changeup, curve, slider, and fastball, which topped out at 97 miles per hour. Clearly a reason why the Mets and their scouts were so intrigued with Dunn, even drawing high praise from his new manager.

“His stuff is reminiscent of a young Doc Gooden,” Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa said. “He’s not as tall as Doc, but he’s real fun to watch.” (

Dunn has stated in the past that he envisions himself as a starter, but the Cyclones will be cognizant of his innings this season, having already compiled 65.2 at Boston College. The plan is to have him toss two innings in relief every few days for the Cyclones this season.

“I’m not looking into it too much,” Dunn said about coming out of the bullpen. “Whenever I get a chance to get the ball, it’s just work for me, getting better every day.”

The great thing about the Mets selecting Dunn is he’s a college pitcher, which means he may not need too much polishing in the minors before he’s ready to contribute with the big club. Whether that’s as a starter or reliever remains up in the air, as the Mets might employ Dunn in the same style the Tampa Bay Rays did with their young first rounder David Price back in 2008, using him out of the pen to get his feet wet, and ultimately using him in relief roles during the Rays’ postseason run that season.

Don’t be surprised to see Dunn work his way up the Mets’ system rather quickly. The Mets are restocking their system with pitching, after trading away some of their prospects last year in trades for Juan Uribe/Kelly Johnson, Tyler Clippard, and Yoenis Cespedes. And with their other top pitching prospect Marcos Molina out this year recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Mets are looking to reload their system for the next wave of talent.

The local kid who grew up a Yankees fan now finds himself on a path to the orange and blue, but with the way the Mets have churned out pitchers, Dunn joins good company and hopes to make a name for himself in Queens in the not so distant future.

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Mets Promote Conforto, Rosario, Urena To Savannah Tue, 02 Sep 2014 04:29:14 +0000 michael conforto

The Mets have promoted outfielder Michael Conforto to Single-A Savannah as the Sand Gnats head to the playoffs.

Joining the 2014 first-rounder will be his Brooklyn Cyclones teammates shortstop Amed Rosario and third baseman Jhoan Urena.

Conforto batted .331/.403/ .448 with three home runs, 10 doubles, 30 runs and 19 RBI in 42 games with Brooklyn.

Urena batted .300/.356/.431 with five home runs, 20 doubles, and 47 RBI in 75 games for Brooklyn.

Rosario batted .274/.320/.372 with two home runs, 11 doubles, 6 triples, seven stolen bases and 42 runs scored in 75 games for Brooklyn and Savannah.

Very happy to see these three excellent prospects rewarded for their fine seasons.

Go Gnats!

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Prospect Watch: Molina’s Secondary Pitches, Rosario’s Improving Approach Mon, 01 Sep 2014 23:00:20 +0000 Saturday night I had the pleasure of catching a game between two of the New York Penn League’s best teams, the Tri City Valley Cats and the Mets’ own Brooklyn Cyclones. Let me tell you MMO, we can begin to get excited about a couple farmhands on that roster, specifically Marcos Molina and Amed Rosario.

Marcos  MolinaI expected to be impressed by Molina, based on the glowing scouting reports and his numbers this season. After his 10-strikeout performance, I certainly was. However, it wasn’t his 90-92 mph fastball that wowed me. I found his slider and changeup to be particularly special considering his age and level. The slider moved down and away from righthanded hitters and made several Tri City players look completely overmatched. The pitch was thrown around 82-84 mph. Molina’s change was thrown in the mid-70s and had excellent sink down the strike zone. He appeared to throw it equally to batters on both sides of the plate.

In the midst of this breakout season, Molina has upped his strikeout to walk ratio from 3.07 in 2013 to 5.06 this year. His walk rate, a particular concern with any young pitcher, has also improved from 2.36 last year to 2.12 walks per nine this season. We will certainly hear more from Marcos “La Maquina” Molina.

I was looking forward to watching shortstop Amed Rosario as well. I’d read many a glowing report on the young man’s talent, character and work ethic. After watching him this weekend, I have to say I am very impressed.

Rosario is listed at 6’2″ and 170 pounds, a sturdy athlete by any standard. But his movement around the infield is fluid and effortless. At 18 years of age, much can change physically. That said, I would be surprised if Rosario had to move from shortstop.

Amed  Rosario (Photo by Jim Mancari)

What most impressed me was a play in the early innings. A Tri City batter hit a hard ground ball past Molina toward the second base bag. I was sure the ball was destined for center field. Like a cat, Rosario glided effortlessly to the ball, scooped it up and made a running throw to first base for the out.

At the dish, Rosario was even more impressive. He had two hard-hit doubles on the evening, though his first hit should have been a triple. The runner ahead of him on base fell rounding third and had to retreat to the bag, forcing Amed to stay at second base. Both hits rocketed off his bat. Michael Conforto‘s ninth inning homerun notwithstanding, I’d say that Rosario hit the ball with more authority than any Cyclones hitter.

All this aside, Rosario is several years from Citi Field. But there is reason to be very excited about the young man’s future. He’s improved from last year and he’s playing in a league where he is about two years younger than the average NYP league player. His strikeout rate per plate appearance has gone from an unhealthy 19% in 2013 down to 15.7% this year. In addition, Rosario has upped his walk rate from 4.9% to 5.9% in a year. His 2013 on-base plus slugging average of 637 has climbed to 715 this year. All proof positive that Amed Rosario is developing nicely.

I won’t go as far as to say the future is bright. But it’s a sunnier forecast than 2014, that’s for sure.

(Photos by Jim Mancari, MMO)

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Cyclones Win Wild Walkoff On Hit-By-Pitch Thu, 28 Aug 2014 14:44:41 +0000 Scarlyn Reyes turned in 7.0 innings of two-run ball. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Scarlyn Reyes turned in 7.0 innings of two-run ball. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – In a game that featured three wild pitches in the same inning leading to a critical run, it was a fitting end that the Brooklyn Cyclones earned a victory on a walkoff bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.

The Cyclones (40-31) needed 11 innings to defeat the Staten Island Yankees 3-2 at MCU Park in Coney Island Wednesday night, but the win keeps Brooklyn 2.0 games ahead of the Connecticut Tigers in the Wild Card race with five games left to play.

Brooklyn rebounded from a rough patch in the middle of the season to now be 25-12 over its last 37 games and has outscored its opponents 169-116 in that stretch. Not surprisingly, this stretch coincides with the addition of Mets’ first-round draft pick Michael Conforto to the lineup.

Conforto was 4-for-5 Wednesday night with a run scored. The team is now 18-2 when he scores at least one run. The first rounder now has 16 multi-hit games this season, including five in his last seven games.

“This was a huge one for us,” said Cyclones’ manager Tom Gamboa. “They all are at this stage of the game. You can’t say enough about our pitching, which has been good all year.”

Right-hander Scarlyn Reyes made his sixth start of the season, and after surrendering a first-inning run, he settled in nicely over the next five frames.

With the Cyclones leading 2-1 in top of seventh, Reyes wound up striking out the side. However, after giving up a leadoff single, he threw three wild pitches, allowing the tying-run to come around easily.

Reyes finished with seven strikeouts in 7.0 innings but was tagged with a no-decision.

Both teams couldn’t muster anything offensively over the next four innings. Cyclones’ lefty relievers Kelly Secrest, Shane Bay and Brad Wieck turned in another dominant combined relief effort to keep Brooklyn in the game.

The Cyclones loaded the bases in the bottom of the 11th inning with only one out. To that point, the team had struggled all game with runners in scoring position.

But it was the 18-year-old Amed Rosario who was hit by a pitch to force in the winning run.

Brooklyn heads upstate Thursday to open a three-game game series against the Tri-City Valleycats, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Houston Astros. Martires Arias takes the ball for Brooklyn looking to improve upon his 2-0 record with a 1.10 ERA. Game time is 7 p.m.

The Cyclones control their own destiny with five games to play. If the team can hold on, the first round of the New York-Penn League playoffs would open Wednesday, Sept. 2 at MCU Park.

“We’re two up with five to play,” Gamboa said. “We just have to keep playing.”

Click here to view the complete box score from this game.

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NYPL All-Star Game Ends In A 1-1 Tie Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:00:00 +0000 National Anthem during the 2014 NYPL All-Star Game (Photo by Jim Mancari)

National Anthem during the 2014 NYPL All-Star Game (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – MCU Park in Coney Island had the feel of Miller Park in Milwaukee circa July, 2002.

That’s because this year’s 10th annual New York-Penn League (NYPL) All-Star Game finished in a 1-1 tie – just like the 2002 MLB Midsummer’s Classic.

Six Brooklyn Cyclones played Tuesday night in the All-Star Game, representing the South team. It was the second time the Cyclones hosted the league’s All-Star Game – the first was the first-ever game in 2005 – and the first time the 14 teams in the league were split into North and South teams rather than American versus National League affiliates.

Marcos Molina (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Marcos Molina (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Cyclones’ right-hander Marcos Molina started the game for the South All-Stars and turned in a scoreless opening inning, giving up only a two-out single while striking out two. The 19-year-old is 6-2 in 10 starts this summer and is second in the league with a 1.58 ERA. He leads the NYPL with 73 strikeouts and a 0.83 WHIP.

Molina getting the start marked the sixth time in franchise history that a Cyclone has started the All-Star Game, as well as the third straight. Bobby Parnell started the first-ever NYPL All-Star Game in 2005. Mark Cohoon (2009), Yohan Almonte (2010), Luis Mateo (2012) and Miller Diaz (2013) have all earned starting nods in the game.

The other Cyclones’ starter was 18-year-old shortstop Amed Rosario, who batted second in the lineup for the South. He flew out to right field in the first inning and was robbed of a base hit in his second at-bat in the fourth.

For the year, Rosario is batting .286 with 36 runs scored, 14 extra-base hits and 19 RBI. He currently sits third in the NYPL with 66 hits and is tied for the league-lead with five triples.

Cyclones’ righty Corey Oswalt pitched the top of the fourth inning. He surrendered two hits but was able to escape the jam unscathed. In 10 games this season, he’s 6-1 with a 2.26 ERA – third in the NYPL – and has allowed two runs or less in eight of his nine starts.

Cyclones’ third baseman Jhoan Ureña entered the game in the sixth inning, hitting into a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat and grounding out in his second. He’s the only player in the NYPL to appear in all 63 games, and he leads the league in hits (71) and at-bats (240) and is fifth in RBI (38). At just 19 years old, he became the only player in Cyclones’ franchise history to record three hitting streaks of 10 or more games in the same season.

Cyclones’ right fielder Michael Bernal also entered the game as a reserve. He struck out to end the bottom of the seventh inning. Though he’s third in the NYPL with 77 strikeouts on the season, he’s tied for the Cyclones’ team lead with five home runs and is second on the team with 30 RBI. He also leads the team in stolen bases (10) and outfield assists (eight).

Cyclones’ lefty closer Shane Bay entered with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and needed only one pitch to retire the side. He ranks second in the league with 13 saves and has held his opponents scoreless in 14 of his 17 appearances.

In addition to these six players, the Cyclones’ coaches, including first-year manager Tom Gamboa, served as the active staff for the South team during the game.

Before the game, MCU Park was the site of a celebrity/civil servant softball challenge presented by Mercedes Benz of Brooklyn and the Tic Toc Stop Foundation. The game featured members of the FDNY, NYPD and DSNY alongside stars from the world of sports, television and beyond, including Boomer Esiason, Craig Carton, John Franco, Steve Lavin, Chris Mullin, Rosanna Scotto and the Impractical Jokers.

After the softball game, Esiason, Carton, Franco and Lavin all participated in an on-field ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The Cyclones (35-28) currently hold a full 1.0-game lead in the Wild Card race over the Connecticut Tigers with just 13 games remaining. Brooklyn resumes action Wednesday night to take on the Staten Island Yankees before returning home Thursday.

Click here to view the complete box score from the All-Star Game.

Boomer Esiason, Craig Carton, John Franco and Steve Lavin accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Boomer Esiason, Craig Carton, John Franco and Steve Lavin accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

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Ureña’s Walkoff Hit Lifts Cyclones To Doubleheader Split Thu, 14 Aug 2014 09:00:49 +0000 Jhoan Urena plated the winning run with a walk off single. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Jhoan Urena plated the winning run with a walk off single. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – It was a long night of baseball Wednesday at MCU Park in Coney Island, but the Brooklyn Cyclones emerged in a better position than when the night started.

The Cyclones (31-28) split a seven-inning doubleheader against the Lowell Spinners, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, both by a score of 3-2.

A walkoff single by Jhoan Ureña in extra innings of the second game gave Brooklyn a needed win after dropping the first contest. The split, coupled with the Connecticut Tigers getting swept in a doubleheader, brings the Cyclones within a half game of the Wild Card lead in the New York-Penn League (NYPL).

The 19-year-old Ureña finished the day 3-for-7 with three RBI. After hitting safely in both games, the All-Star third baseman now has a nine-game hitting streak. He’s also the only player in the NYPL to play in all 59 games this season.

Defense was a bit of a problem for the Cyclones in the doubleheader, as the team committed four errors. All five Spinners’ runs were scored due to an error that started or prolonged a rally. Ureña made an error in Game 2, which led to the tying run scoring, but he rebounded two innings later to plate the winning run.

“I just moved past it,” Ureña said of the error. “It was an error, it happens. I just kept my head up, and all I could think about was the game now. I couldn’t think about the past.”

Brooklyn mounted a rally in the final inning of Game 1, but with the tying and winning runs on base, Mets’ first-round draft pick Michael Conforto struck out swinging on a ball he fouled tipped into the catcher’s glove. He’s cooled off with the bat slightly but is still hitting .319 (30-for-94) on the season.

In Game 2, Martires Arias turned in another solid effort in his second start for the Cyclones since being called up from Kingsport. His first start (6.0 shutout innings with six strikeouts) earned him NYPL Pitcher of the Week honors last week.

The 6-foot, 8-inch righty from the Dominican Republic turned in two scoreless innings to start the game, which ran his scoreless innings streak between Kingsport and Brooklyn to 24.0 innings, but he surrendered a run in the top of third inning.

He was lifted after 5.1 innings, giving up five hits and two runs (both earned) while walking none and striking out seven.

“We’re very pleasantly surprised with how good his (Arias) command is,” said Cyclones’ manager Tom Gamboa. “I think he did a terrific job. We’re real proud of him, and I think he’s shown tremendous poise and composure here.”

All-Star shortstop Amed Rosario also had a solid day at the plate, collecting three hits, two walks and three run scored. He led off the eighth inning of Game 2 with a single to right field and scored the game-winning run on Ureña’s walkoff hit.

With less than 20 games to go, the playoff race should be intense down the stretch.

“It looks like it’s going to go right down the wire,” Gamboa said. “If we would have lost two tonight, that would have really, really hurt.”

The Cyclones return to action Thursday night at MCU Park looking for a sweep over the Spinners. Righty Corey Oswalt (5-1, 2.84 ERA), who was selected to Tuesday’s All-Star Game, takes the mound to close out the series.

Click here to view the complete box score from these games.

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Video: Gil Hodges Once Again Up For Hall of Fame Election Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:04:19 +0000 I’m sure it’s been something that has been debated quite often on this site as to whether Gil Hodges should be enshrined along with his legendary Brooklyn Dodgers’ teammates in Cooperstown.

Well, Gil will be up for election again this December at the Winter Meetings.

To increase awareness of Gil’s cause, here is a television segment I put together. Please share it out, so that Gil rightfully takes his place this winter alongside baseball immortals.

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Conforto Discusses Approach; Not A Candidate For Arizona Fall League Tue, 05 Aug 2014 20:30:59 +0000 michael conforto Patrick E. McCarthy

Update: According to Adam Rubin Michael Conforto is not a consideration for the Arizona Fall League. The Mets will not announce their contingent until late this month, but Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini are candidates.

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The Brooklyn Cyclones burst out of the gate this summer season to the tune of an 11-4 record in their first 15 games.

However, over the next three weeks, the team struggled offensively after its fast start to come back to the pack in the New York-Penn League.

But on July 19, the Cyclones finally received the consistent offensive punch the lineup lacked in the form of Mets first-round draft pick Michael Conforto.

Signing Conforto proved to be a lengthy process, but judging by his first 16 games for Brooklyn, it seems the organization’s patience has certainly been worth the wait.

In these games, the lefty-swinging Conforto is hitting .362 (21-for-58) with five doubles, two home runs and nine RBI. He’s homered in each of his last two games, including an absolute bomb into the right-field bleachers on Saturday – where long drives typically get gobbled up by the Coney Island wind – and an opposite field shot on Sunday.

IMG_8348Right away, it seemed that Conforto had an idea in each at-bat of what he wanted to do at the plate.

“I’m very comfortable,” the first rounder said. “I think I’ve just kind of settled into a mode where I’m seeing the ball well and I’m in a rhythm. I’m getting a lot of pitches to hit, so I’m just doing what I can with them and hitting the ball where it’s pitched.”

The Cyclones are 11-5 since Conforto joined the team, and the team’s offensive attack has picked up significantly. With his presence in the lineup, the other hitters have undoubtedly been getting better pitches to hit.

“A lot of guys have really stepped up swinging,” Conforto said. “I think it is fair to say that maybe me being there in the middle of the lineup helps other guys and maybe I’m protecting some people, but I wouldn’t be taking all that credit. We’ve just been playing really well together as a team.”

Cyclones’ manager Tom Gamboa has praised Conforto’s approach offensively and said he hopes the other Cyclones players are paying attention when Michael is at the plate or even taking batting practice.

Conforto said he credits the coaches and players at Oregon State University for helping him develop his patient approach – that seems to fit in very well with the Mets’ current hitting philosophy.

“Out of high school, I wasn’t the hitter I am now at all,” he said. “They (college coaches) really stressed the importance to me of swinging at high percentage pitches for hitters and letting the pitches that are low percentage go, which are out of the strike zone anyways. You take those balls, you get on base, you walk, and you’re also getting better pitches to hit as a hitter. There’s really no down side to it.”

It seems like every Conforto at-bat is pre-scripted. He’ll get up there and take a few pitcher’s pitches – even if they wind up being called strikes – until he a gets pitch he can handle. And when he does, he usually hits it hard somewhere.

“My hitting approach is fairly simple: I’m hunting for fastballs,” Conforto said. “Something straight is the easiest ball to hit, and I’ve been getting a lot of those lately, and that’s why the results have been showing up. Staying to the opposite field has helped me with the off-speed stuff because I’m still staying back long enough to get the bat on the ball when it’s coming in slower.”

As for his defense, the knock on him when he was drafted was that he wasn’t exactly a prototypical Major League outfielder. But he seems to be on a mission to prove the naysayers wrong.

Already he has four outfield assists and has made several acrobatic plays in left field. He said he kept his arm in shape while he was at home prior to reporting to Brooklyn and that the Cyclones’ coaching staff has helped him work on some little things to help refine his defense.

“That (defense) is something that I think was out there as a question mark, and I took that as a challenge personally,” Conforto said. “I made it a priority to work on that part of my game. I can see where that might come from to be honest. Maybe I had a bad couple of games in the outfield that some people saw, so any of that criticism is constructive for me, and I take that and use it to make myself better.

“I definitely have worked at it, and I will still work on it. You’re never perfect in this game, and so I’ll keep working on it and practicing. Repetition makes you as good as you could possibly be.”

IMG_8381It’s this sort of hardworking attitude that has made Conforto an instant fan-favorite in Brooklyn. He said he loves interacting with the fans before and after games.

“It’s really cool hearing them call my number and my name,” the 21-year-old said. “It’s pretty awesome that so quickly they’ve taken to me, and I enjoy it and that’s why I’m out there signing autographs.

“I like signing stuff for kids. It’s a lot of fun for me. As a kid, I was always asking for autographs, and I remember not getting them and being upset about it. I like to sign as many autographs as I can.”

Here’s a note to Cyclones’ fans that still haven’t gotten Michael’s autograph: You better hurry up!

If Conforto keeps hitting at his torrid pace, the Mets may be wise to promote him to Savannah. Sure, there’s no rush in his progression through the system, but he eventually needs more of a challenge than Single-A short season pitching.

But meanwhile, the Cyclones are in the thick of a playoff race, and it’s no secret that Conforto is a major factor in the team’s postseason hopes. Winning a New York-Penn League title maybe isn’t tops on the Mets’ priority list, but getting Conforto some seasoning in big spots – like a meaningful playoff series – could pay dividends in his development.

For now though, Conforto seems content with raking for the Cyclones, and Gamboa is happy to pencil his slugger’s name into the lineup each day.

Here’s hoping for continued success, and of course a clean bill of health, for the Mets first-rounder.

Photo Credits: Jim Mancari, MMO, Patrick E. McCarthy

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Cyclones Winning Streak Snapped After Brutal Loss Fri, 01 Aug 2014 14:05:06 +0000 Octavio Acosta (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Octavio Acosta (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Thursday night at MCU Park in Coney Island was Irish Heritage Night.

But unfortunately for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the “luck of the Irish” was nowhere to be found.

The Cyclones (24-23) dropped a 14-3 contest to the Auburn Doubledays, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Brooklyn had won five straight games before the loss.

Cyclones’ starter Octavio Acosta fell to 3-3 on this season, as he lasted just 3.0 innings while giving up six runs (four earned) on five hits while walking two. It was the second straight night in which the Cyclones’ starting pitcher lasted just less than four innings.

“It was an ugly game,” said Cyclones’ manager Tom Gamboa. “Acosta has pitched so good this year. The first four hitters of the game was typical him. But as soon as he walked a guy with one out in the second, he just completely lost it.”

Meanwhile, after the game, Acosta was promoted to the Savannah Sand Gnats.

The Cyclones trailed 4-2 heading into the top of the fourth inning, but reliever Brandon Welch struggled through the next two innings, giving up eight earned runs.

Welch surrendered two home runs – a rarity at MCU Park. Auburn first baseman Jose Marmolejos hit a two-run shot to left, and left fielder Jeff Gardner drilled a three-run bomb deep into a right field bleachers – where balls typically get knocked down from the wind coming off the water.

“I’ve never seen a ball by a left-handed hitter (Gardner) hit like that in this park,” Gamboa said.

In total, Cyclones’ pitchers surrendered 14 hits to go along with 10 walks and three hit-batsmen. That usually is not a successful recipe for a win.

First-round draft pick Michael Conforto had a rough day at the plate. He hit a few balls squarely but ultimately finished 0-for-5 with four runners left on base. He’s still hitting .367 through his first 13 games in which the Cyclones are 9-4.

On the bright side, four Cyclones – shortstop Amed Rosario, right fielder Michael Bernal, second baseman/catcher Tyler Moore and center fielder Tucker Tharp – all had multi-hit games.

Brooklyn will try to win the series against the Doubledays Friday night at 7 p.m. at MCU Park. It will be Gil Hodges bobblehead night, and righty Corey Oswalt (4-1, 2.56 ERA) takes the hill looking to continue his strong summer season.

Click here to view the complete box score from this game.

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Conforto Shines, Cyclones Win 5th Straight Under Watchful Eye of Alderson, DePodesta Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:59:59 +0000 Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta visited MCU Park Wednesday night, likely to check out first-round pick Michael Conforto. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta visited MCU Park Wednesday night, likely to check out first-round pick Michael Conforto. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Brooklyn Cyclones welcomed a few special visitors Wednesday night at MCU Park in Coney Island: Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and vice president of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta.

And it’s no secret whom they likely were there to see: first-round draft pick Michael Conforto.

Conforto once again had a big night at the plate, helping the Cyclones (24-22) to a 9-4 victory over the Auburn Doubledays, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

The win is Brooklyn’s fifth straight and keeps the team in the lead for the Wild Card spot with just over a month left to the summer season.

Michael Conforto was on on base in all five plate appearances. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Michael Conforto was on base in all five plate appearances. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Conforto finished the night 3-for-3 – all singles – with two RBI, two runs scored, a walk and a hit-by-pitch to reach base in all five plate appearances.

The three hits bring his batting average to .409 through his first 12 pro games, with an even more impressive .490 on-base percentage. He’s now hit safely in 11 of his 12 games.

In those 12 games, the Cyclones are 9-3 and have averaged 5.8 runs per game. The other bats have been picking up as a result of Conforto’s presence in the middle of the lineup.

“He’s (Conforto) a huge part of it,” said Cyclones’ manager Tom Gamboa. “He extends the lineup. He’s a living example of what the Mets are trying to preach in hitting about taking pitches, even if they’re strikes, that are not good pitches for you to hit and give the guy (opposing pitcher) a chance to make a mistake. And once again, he’s just a hitting machine.”

Conforto though – the humble ballplayer that he is – is taking no individual credit for the team’s recent offensive outburst.

“We’ve just been playing really well as a team,” the first-rounder said. “A lot of guys have really stepped up, and everyone has started to swing the bat a little better. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe not.”

The Cyclones did the bulk of their damage in the bottom of the second inning, sending 11 men to plate and putting up a touchdown and the extra point – seven runs – in the frame on five hits while taking advantage of a few Doubledays’ mistakes.

Usually with a seven-run lead, a pitcher can settle in and give his team some length. However, that was not the case for the normally-reliable Scarlyn Reyes, who lasted only 3.2 innings in his third start of the season, giving up two runs on four hits and walking a season-high four batters.

From there though, five Cyclones relievers – Mike Hepple, Paul Paez, Luis Rengel, Juan Urbina and Cameron Griffin – combined to hold Auburn to just two runs on four hits the rest of the way.

Brooklyn continues its six-game homestand Thursday night against the Doubledays. Right-hander Octavio Acosta gets the ball at 7 p.m. seeking his fourth win of the summer.

Click here to view the complete box score from this game.

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First-Rounder Michael Conforto Shines In Cyclones Loss Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:42:01 +0000 BROOKLYN, N.Y. – It was Italian Heritage Night Friday at MCU Park in Coney Island, so that was the perfect setting for a big night from Mets first-round draft pick Michael Conforto.

Michael  Conforto (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Michael Conforto (Photo by Jim Mancari)

The 21-year-old Oregon State University product finished 2-for-4 with an RBI double, and he added a stellar defensive play in foul territory and an outfield assist – his second in two nights.

However, Conforto’s effort was not enough, as the Brooklyn Cyclones (19-22) fell by a score of 5-2 to the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. The team is now 4-3 since Conforto joined the team July 19.

Conforto has recorded at least one hit in all seven games he’s played in his first week of professional baseball. In this small sample, he’s hitting .407 (11-for-27) with four doubles and three RBI.

“He (Conforto) take’s a lot of pride in his game, and his at-bats have just been terrific right from day one,” said Cyclones’ manager Tom Gamboa. “The rest of the guys can learn from him in BP and in his pitch selection in the games.”

The first-rounder singled sharply up the middle in his first at-bat and then followed that up with a two-out RBI double into the right field corner in the bottom of third inning to plate the Cyclones’ first run.

He later hit two balls hard to the left side, which went for outs, but he said he feels comfortable hitting the ball to all fields.

“I’m very comfortable,” Conforto said of his offensive production in his first week. “I think I’ve just kind of settled into a mode where I’m seeing the ball well and getting into a rhythm and getting confident. I’m getting a lot of pitches to hit, a lot of fastballs, and I’m doing what I can with them in trying to hit the ball where it’s pitched.”

Conforto’s defense has also impressed early on in his tenure in Brooklyn, especially his throwing.

“It’s one of those things that I’ve worked on, trying to get my arm in shape and making sure that when I was back home I wasn’t losing any arm strength,” Conforto said. “It (his defense) was something that was out there as a question mark, and I took that as a challenge personally. I’ve made it a priority to work on that part of my game.”

Michael  Conforto greets Brooklyn fans. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Michael Conforto greets Brooklyn fans. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

“The reports on him (Conforto) were adequate defensively, and we’re seeing way beyond that,” Gamboa said. “For a 21-year-old, he’s miles ahead of most guys I see come into professional baseball. That was his reputation coming here. That’s what we were told, except that he runs, throws and fields better than people gave him credit for. The focus was on his bat, but everybody is seeing a more complete player here.”

Righty Octavio Acosta started on the mound for the Cyclones and was able to pitch out of a few early jams up until the top of the fifth inning, in which eight Lake Monsters came to bat to plate three runs.

Acosta had gone at least 6.0 innings in each of his five starts since his 4.2-inning outing on Opening Day. But he only lasted five innings in this one and surrendered a season-high 10 hits. He falls to 3-2 on the summer with the loss.

The Cyclones only mustered seven hits on the night. One of those was a seeing-eye double over the third-base bag for third baseman Jhoan Ureña, which increases his hitting streak to 11 games. The 19-year-old had a 13-game hitting streak earlier this summer, and he joins Angel Pagan (2001) as the only two players in Cyclones’ franchise history to record two 10-game hitting streaks in the same season.

Although the team has cooled off since its hot start, it’s still very much alive in the Wild Card race with the season just beyond the halfway point. Brooklyn came into play at only 2.0 games behind the Staten Island Yankees and Williamsport Crosscutters in the race for the final playoff spot.

The team is back in action at home Saturday night, looking for a series win against the Lake Monsters. Texas native Corey Oswalt bids for his fourth win of the summer at 6 p.m.

Click here to view the complete box score from this game.

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First Round Pick Michael Conforto Has Solid Debut With Cyclones Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:25:49 +0000 michael conforto Patrick E. McCarthy

Mets first round pick Michael Conforto made his professional debut this weekend for for the Brooklyn Cyclones, displaying the quick bat and contact skills that had many experts tabbing him as the most polished hitter in the draft.

On Saturday, Conforto went 1-for-4 with a run scored. He then followed it up by going 2-for-4 with two singles on Sunday and run scored to cap off his solid pro debut.

“It’s a new chapter in my life,” said Conforto, 21, who batted cleanup and was the designated hitter on Saturday. “I’m very, very excited to start here in Brooklyn.”

Conforto was the 10th overall pick in the June draft for the Mets out of Oregon State. He flied out in his first two at-bats before getting a singling to right in the sixth.

The Cyclones had Conforto playing left field on Sunday where he handled two putouts flawlessly.

“There was a little sigh of relief there,” Conforto said of his first hit. “It’s good to get that first one out of the way. But I felt good at the plate. I felt like I was seeing the ball well, I put some good swings on the ball and had some good at-bats.”

“I can promise I’m going to work hard, come to work every day and do all the things I need to play at a high level and get myself up to par with these guys that are playing real well right now,” Conforto said. “I want to try to help this team win.

Congratulations, Michael!

(Photo: Patrick E. McCarthy)

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Amed Rosario’s Big Night Not Enough in Cyclones 7th Straight Loss Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:09:20 +0000 Amed Rosario (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Amed Rosario (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – For the Brooklyn Cyclones, the “Curse of SNY” continues.

The Mets Single-A short season squad was televised Thursday night on SNY, and the team dropped an 8-6 contest in 10 innings to the Jamestown Jammers, the short season affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, at MCU Park in Coney Island.

The Cyclones (15-18) are now 2-6 in the past three years when being televised on the Mets’ TV network and have been outscored 50-27 in those games. The loss is also the seventh straight for Brooklyn, which is 4-14 in its last 18 games after getting off to a fast 11-4 start. The losing streak matched the second longest streak in franchise history, and four errors certainly didn’t help with the effort.

“Losing teams will find ways to lose, and unfortunately, we’re in the midst of that right now,” said Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa. “This is a game tonight that we didn’t lose as much as we flat out just gave it away. These guys will learn that no one feels sorry for you in this game. This will keep happening until they make a decision as a unit that enough is enough.”

Other than committing an error, young shortstop Amed Rosario had a good night at the plate, finishing 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. He’s now hitting .284 on the season, which is almost at the halfway point. Third baseman Jhoan Ureña also drove in two runs on the night.

But the Cyclones’ collective offensive struggles continued in the loss to the Jammers. In what wound up being the Cyclones longest game of the season at 4:03, Brooklyn jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first two innings, and those five runs were more than the team scored in any full game during the six previous contests.

However, Brooklyn only mustered one run over the next eight innings, which allowed Jamestown to claw back for the victory.

Cyclones closer Shane Bay suffered his first loss of the season after surrendering two runs in the top of 10th inning. Right hander Casey Meisner started for Brooklyn and only lasted 2.1 innings, giving up four runs on five hits and three walks.

The team’s strikeout rate has been through the roof through the first 32 games of the summer. In 1,051 official at-bats, Cyclones’ batters have struck out 305 times, which is a 29.1 percent rate. They’ve had 14 games in which they’ve amassed 10 or more strikeouts.

“We’ll just have to regroup again tomorrow,” Gamboa said. “It’s not fun to get beat day after day, especially when we give it away like we did tonight.”

The team should receive an offensive boost when Mets first-round draft pick Michael Conforto makes his professional debut Saturday. Meanwhile, the team will try to snap its losing skid Friday night at home against the Jammers, as lefty Carlos Valdez bids for his third win of the season.

Click here to view the complete box score of this game.

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Gee Feels Fine After Rehab Start, Cyclones Drop Rubber Game To Staten Island Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:00:48 +0000 Dillon Gee warming up in the bullpen (Photo by Diana Colapietro)

Dillon Gee warming up in the bullpen (Photo by Diana Colapietro)

BROOKYLN, N.Y. – On Sunday afternoon at MCU Park in Coney Island, Mets’ starting pitcher Dillon Gee returned to his old stomping grounds as he made a rehab start for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Gee settled in nicely after a rough first inning and tossed 2.2 innings, but he was tagged with the loss after giving up a run on four hits. He also walked one and struck out six.

The Cyclones (11-6) dropped the rubber game 5-4 Sunday against the Staten Island Yankees in the “Battle of the Bridge” series.

Gee threw 55 pitches – which was the exact number he was slated to throw – in addition to a 30-pitch warm-up session. He has been on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle in his right side since May 14.

This was Gee’s second rehab start, as he also started a game last Tuesday in the Gulf Coast League. In that outing, he pitched two scoreless innings and allowed only one hit with two strikeouts.

“I feel good right now, but the big test is always the next day. So hopefully everything goes the way that it’s been going, and hopefully I’ll be out there for the next one.”

It took Gee 24 pitches to get through the first inning Sunday. Yankees’ center fielder Daniel Lopez led off with a bloop double to right. Gee proceeded to walk right fielder Austin Aune before an RBI single up the middle by second baseman Ty McFarland on an 0-2 pitch up in the zone that gave the Yankees their only run off Gee.

He then gave up a single to Yankees’ catcher Isaias Tejeda before striking out two and getting a fielder’s choice grounder to end the inning.

Gee minimized the damage in the first inning, allowing only one run. (Photo by Diana Colapietro)

Gee minimized the damage in the first inning, allowing only one run. (Photo by Diana Colapietro)

“It took me a few batters that first inning to get under control,” Gee said. “I’m not going to lie, I had a little adrenaline going into this game. But I felt fine physically and that’s the goal.”

Gee’s second inning started with an error by Cyclones’ second baseman Anthony Chavez. Gee struck out the next batter but then gave up a single to Lopez before retiring the next two.

With 46 pitches through two innings, Gee returned for the top of the third and struck out both men he faced before being relieved by Josh Prevost. Of Gee’s 55 pitches, 36 went for strikes.

He said he would like to improve upon his fastball command in his next start, which the team will determine sometime after reevaluating him Monday to see how he feels.

“The change-up was pretty good, and the slider was actually pretty good,” Gee said. “The off-speed stuff was pretty good for the most part. I just have to get ahead of hitters better. No matter which level you’re at, you have to pitch ahead.”

At age 21, Gee was a member of the 2007 Brooklyn Cyclones. He was mostly a reliever until being called upon to make 11 starts later in the season. He finished that campaign 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA as a starter.

“It’s pretty special this being the place that I started,” he said. “It’s changed so much. It’s a great place to play, it’s a great place to start your pro career, and to come back and make a rehab start here was a lot of fun. It’s good to come back to the place where you start your career.”

Gee is the first Cyclone to be named an Opening Day starter for the Mets. His outing Sunday was the 19th time in Cyclones’ franchise history that a Met played a rehab game in Brooklyn. Gee also became the second player to play for the Cyclones as a minor leaguer and Major Leaguer, joining Angel Pagan who played on the inaugural Cyclones team in 2001 and then with Brooklyn in a rehab game in 2008.

The game remained 1-0 until the top of the sixth inning when the Yankees tagged Brooklyn righty Corey Oswalt – who had been working on a 13.0-inning scoreless streak through his first two starts – for four runs as they batted around in the frame.

But the Cyclones immediately responded in the bottom of the inning by batting around themselves and plating four runs.

With the bases loaded and none out, third baseman Jhoan Ureña drove in the first run on what would have been an RBI ground out, but Yankees’ pitcher David Palladino dropped the ball covering the bag. Michael Bernal, Tyler Moore and Jeff Diehl each followed with RBI’s.

In the final three innings, the Cyclones only managed two hits against the Yankees’ bullpen and struck out five times. They wound up getting the tying and winning run in scoring position with two outs in the ninth, but catcher Tomas Nido went down swinging to end the threat.

On a positive note, Brooklyn reliever Scarlyn Reyes continues to shine as he threw 3.1 innings of hitless relief.

Meanwhile, Ureña doubled to left field in the first inning to increase his hitting streak to 10 games, becoming only the second Cyclone teenager (19 years old) to have a double-digit hitting streak joining outfielder Alhaji Turay who hit in 12 straight games in 2012.

The Cyclones have Monday off and open a three-game series with the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, Tuesday upstate. Lefty Alberto Baldonado will bid for his first win of the season in the 7:05 p.m. start.

Click here to view the complete box score of this game.

Gee addresses the media after his start. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Gee addresses the media after his start. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

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Mets Halfway Mark Long Way From 90 Wins Sun, 29 Jun 2014 15:10:18 +0000 mets score eric young campbell

After Saturday’s win against the Pirates, the Mets improved to 37-44 and at this point barring any major changes to the roster, the team is on pace to win only 74 games and not the 90 that was set as the team goal by Sandy Alderson.

“We’re not going to make any excuses,” Terry Collins tells Adam Rubin of ESPN NY. “We’re not happy about it.”

“We’re hanging in there. As I told the guys the other day, ‘Listen, we’ve just got to push through the All-Star break, go into the break on a positive note. … We have like 15 games before the break. Let’s go 10-5. Let’s not get crazy. Hopefully you get really hot, but let’s just go 10-5, go into the break close and then, coming out of the break, everybody will be rested. We’ll be healthy, Dillon [Gee] will be back and now let’s take off after that.’” 

Rubin adds that Gee, who is on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle on his right side, is scheduled to make a rehab start Sunday for the Brooklyn Cyclones. Pitching coach Dan Warthen estimated Gee will throw 55 in-game pitches.

Thoughts from David C.

A strong second half, would mean that the Mets put it all together and everyone is running on all cylinders. That the pitching staff has turned it around, everyone is producing, Noah Syndergaard is in the majors and mowing down hitters and Collins is pushing all the right buttons.

Now that can be what is needed to win 90 games, but it can also be wishful thinking on my part. I just don’t see the Mets turning it around and going 53-28 in the second half to actually win 90 games. They have too many flaws in the lineup and I am not confident in Collins that he can skipper this team to be that good. It would take many changes and I do not see the Mets making any that would turn this season around that fast.

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Cyclones Drop 1-0 Contest In 10 Innings Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:00:51 +0000 Tom Gamboa (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Tom Gamboa (Photo by Jim Mancari)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Of course, the old saying in baseball that pitching and defense win games more often than not holds true.

But unfortunately that was not the case Monday night at MCU Park in Coney Island for the Brooklyn Cyclones (8-3), who dropped a 1-0 contest in 10 innings to the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Cyclones – who had won six straight games coming into this game – pitched and fielded well but failed to get a runner to second base all night. Pitching and defense may win games, but you still have to score.

“When we don’t get a guy to second base, we don’t have much of an opportunity to get a run,” said Cyclones’ manager Tom Gamboa.

But Gamboa was still pleased with the team’s overall effort.

“That was fun to be a part of and fun to watch,” he said. “I had a feeling after two innings with the wind blowing in and watching both guys pitch, I told my coaches that this looks like it’s going to be a 1-0 game that probably goes extra innings. And it did. I wish the outcome would have been different, but I admire a well-pitched game.”

Right-hander Corey Oswalt followed up his six-scoreless-inning performance from last week with seven scoreless innings, giving up only three hits and one walk while striking out six in a no-decision. He’s started his stint in Brooklyn with 13.0 scoreless innings.

“I felt good in the pen, and I had the same game plan the second time I was facing this team,” Oswalt said. “I just stuck with the same game plan and attacked the hitters.”

Oswalt’s performance continues the Cyclones’ recent string of dominant starting pitching.

Through 11 games, Brooklyn starting pitchers have allowed more than two runs only once

In 60.2 innings, the starters have allowed just nine runs for a combined 1.35 ERA.

Oswalt said it’s become a friendly competition among the starting pitchers as who can out-do the previous night’s starting pitcher.

“There’s always competition, but it’s good when everyone is competing out there and it just only makes the team better,” the San Diego native said.

But on the opposing side, righty Hunter Wood turned in six scoreless innings himself for the Renegades, striking out five and walking only one.

The game was scoreless until the top of the 10th inning. Cyclones’ reliever Scarlyn Reyes, who has been baffling hitters in his previous two innings of work – gave up a two-out swinging-bunt infield single to Renegades’ designated hitter Coty Blanchard.

Blanchard then stole second base on a throw that Cyclones’ catcher Tomas Nido double-clutched. The next batter was center fielder Clayton Henning, who doubled to left center to drive in the only run of the game.

Cyclones’ shortstop Amed Rosario finished 2-for-4 with two singles to right field for two of the Cyclones four hits in the loss.

“What I told the guys is that we’re never going to lose, but some nights we’ll run out of innings, and tonight was one of those cases,” Gamboa said.

Brooklyn is right back in action Tuesday night in Hudson Valley for a 6:05 p.m. start. Tall lefty Alberto Baldonado, who tossed 5.2 innings of one run ball in his first start last week, takes the mound.

Click here to view the complete box score from this game.

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Corey Oswalt’s 8 K’s Pace Cyclones In Series Opening Win Wed, 18 Jun 2014 13:00:52 +0000 Corey Oswalt recorded a career-high eight strikeouts in the Cyclones' win Tuesday night. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Corey Oswalt recorded a career-high eight strikeouts in the Cyclones’ win Tuesday night. (Photo by Jim Mancari

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Talk about a complete 360-degree turnaround.

Just one night after an embarrassing loss, the Brooklyn Cyclones (3-2) excelled in all facets of the game Tuesday night at MCU Park in Coney Island, as they notched a 5-1 victory over the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Single-A short season affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

San Diego native Corey Oswalt made his first start for Brooklyn, and the 6-foot, 4-inch righty looked a whole lot like Roy Oswalt, as he tallied a career-high eight strikeouts in six scoreless innings while walking none and only giving up three hits to pick up the win.

“Oswalt is an all-the-time strike-thrower,” Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa said. “He’s got as good or better command of all of his pitches than anybody here at this point. But stuff-wise, I never saw him pitch like that in Florida. He really pitched well and set a great tone.”

Oswalt missed the majority of last season with a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee, so he was pleased to turn in a solid effort.

“I felt really good,” said Oswalt, whose ball had plenty of late movement that induced a ton of swings and misses. “I was just really mentally prepared for my start. I just trusted the game plan that I had going into it and trusted what my catcher was putting down.”

The Cyclones struck offensively in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run triple to right center by first baseman and College of William and Mary product Michael Katz. Catcher Tomas Nido drove in Katz on a groundout to give Brooklyn an early 3-0 lead.

From there, Oswalt was cruising, retiring 10 straight batters from the first through fourth innings.

Joe Tuschak has been swinging a hot bat, including a home run Tuesday night. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Joe Tuschak has been swinging a hot bat, including a home run Tuesday night. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Left fielder Joe Tuschak, who was the only bright spot in Monday’s loss after a 3-for-4 performance, hit the first home run for any Cyclone this season in the bottom of the fourth to add to the lead. He turned on an inside fastball, and it just cleared the wall down the right field line. Hitting a ball out to right field at MCU Park is no easy task, so Tuschak was excited that the ball cleared the fence.

“I honestly didn’t think it was gone,” said Tuschak, who also drove in a run in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly. “I thought it just hit off the wall and took off to the left, so I was trying to a get a triple. Then they said it was out, and I was very surprised and very happy.”

Right-handed reliever Scarlyn Reyes pitched the final three innings to pick up the save. The native of Bayaguana, Dominican Republic, gave up an unearned run and struck out four over the final three frames.

“All in all, there were a lot of good things that happened for us tonight,” Gamboa said. “That’s good because it’s a confidence builder for the kids, especially coming off an ugly game last night.”

The Cyclones start a five-game road trip Wednesday as they head to Hudson Valley for two and then to Aberdeen to play the Ironbirds for three.

Lefty flame-thrower Alberto Baldonado gets the ball for Brooklyn Wednesday at 6:05 p.m. In 29.2 innings for Kingsport last year, he struck out 41 batters, which translates to a 12.4 K/9 ratio.

Click here to view the complete box score from this game.

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