Mets Merized Online » Brooklyn Cyclones Thu, 23 Feb 2017 21:23:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MMO Exclusive Interview: 2016 First Rounder Justin Dunn Sat, 18 Feb 2017 17:00:48 +0000 justin dunn 3

The New York Mets added yet another high upside pitcher to their system last year, drafting and signing Boston College right-hander Justin Dunn in the first round of the MLB Draft (19th overall).

The Freeport native grew up just thirty minutes from Shea Stadium and Citi Field, attending many games as a youth. Dunn, 21, has the chance to one day join LHP Steven Matz as being able to pitch in one’s back yard, so to speak, as Matz grew up about an hour from where he makes his living in Queens, born and raised in Stony Brook, New York.

Dunn is an intriguing prospect, having pitched both out of BC’s pen and in the starting rotation throughout his three seasons there, posting a combined record of 9-7, with a 3.67 ERA in 45 games, 15 of those starts. Dunn had his most successful season as a junior in 2016, where he posted a 2.06 ERA (4th in BC’s history for single-season records), and had career bests in WHIP (1.07), K/9 (9.87), IP (65.2), and games started (8).

Upon signing with the Mets on June 21, the team assigned the hard throwing righty to Brooklyn, where he appeared in 11 games, eight starts, posting a minuscule 1.50 ERA over 30 innings. Dunn held opponents to a .227 average, and struck out 10.5 batters per nine.

The hype is certainly warranted for Justin Dunn, MMO’s sixth best prospect for 2017, as he features a mid-nineties fastball that touches 97, a slider, curve and changeup. The Mets limited his innings in 2016, as he began tossing just two innings for the Cyclones before transitioning to the starting rotation, where he was capped at three innings of work.

Dunn also ranked twice in this offseason’s Top 100 prospect rankings with his highest being #84 by Keith Law.

I had the privilege of speaking to Justin earlier in the week, where we discussed the draft, playing close to home, and an awesome dunk tank story!

MMO - Hey Justin, thanks for taking some time to speak with me today. What was draft night like for you? Many Met fans have seen the video of you with your Boston College teammates celebrating at a sports bar when you heard the news, can you talk a bit about that night and the emotions you felt?

Justin - That night was awesome. We were down in Miami playing in a super regional for the first time in school history, so going down there for that weekend we knew it was draft day, we knew I had a chance to go in the first round. But we also knew we were doing something that had never been done in school history so there was a lot of different emotions going on. We had just finished up practice that night, and coach decided to have a team dinner.

We went over to Duffy’s Sports Bar in Miami; we sit down, long night, long stressful night. Kept waiting to hear my name called, pick after pick not hearing it and then to come down to 18 and 19 and see the Mets and the Yankees right there (Yankees had the 18th pick) that’s two New York teams, and then to see that the Mets were the team that drafted me was honestly a dream come true because being a pitcher you can’t beat this organization.

And growing up in Long Island, I’ve been to more Mets games than I can count, probably more than my own games. I was very familiar with the Mets and I love being home in New York, so that video was raw emotion of how excited I was to become a Met and start my career.

MMO - Did you have any inclination that the Mets had interest in you prior to the draft?

Justin - No that’s what made it even cooler, that video was raw. I didn’t get a phone call that was… I saw my name on the screen when all the Mets fans did and I jumped up in pure excitement. It’s a dream come true to have the potential to be playing thirty minutes from home to where my parents hop on the Cross Island and head straight into Queens.

MMO - The Dodgers drafted you in 2013 in the 37th round; did going through the draft process back then make it any easier for you last year?

Justin - Yeah for sure, I mean at that point in my career I was in a little bit different place. I was a buck fifty maybe, five-ten, and I wasn’t in a situation to where I was ready to go play with grown men that were 21-22 years-old like I am now.

Going into the draft I knew I needed to mature and I was most likely going to college unless someone came with an offer that I couldn’t refuse. So for that day it was just more of a learning (process), and getting used to the experience because I knew at some point in my college career I would go through it again. So for me, it was more learning what interest is and the process itself for draft day and how to handle the punches and things like that, and it was just an honor that the Dodgers even called my name because they didn’t have to.

MMO - Speaking of your time at college, can you talk a little bit about your experience attending Boston College, and how it prepared you for where you are now in your professional career?

Justin - If it wasn’t for BC I wouldn’t be where I am today. We had some great coaches come in: Coach Foster came in my sophomore year, and my freshman year I had Coach Friedholm as pitching coaches so I was fortunate enough to have two outstanding pitching coaches during my college career. And Coach Gambino, our head coach, he helped shape me into the man I am today, and put the morals and values that I have and the way I carry myself as a person, a lot of it is because of him and my parents.

On the field wise, my game kind of went to the next level when Coach Foster came in and broke down the mental side of the game for me. I’m a very mental player, I like to know my hitters well and have a good, lengthy scouting report going into the game, so that was something he taught me how to do; how to read a swing in the middle of an at-bat, how to sit down the night before and analyze a lineup and understand how to attack a lineup the first time through and be able to save a pitch for the second and third time through the order. It helped me go through all of my outings when I became a starter because I understood what he was doing, calling a game, and it made my job as well as his job a little bit easier.

MMO - I read a report on NY Daily News last year, where your dad recollects that you two went into an arcade and he couldn’t hit the dunk tank target. However, you hit the target three times in a row at a young age. Is that true?

Justin - (Laughs) One hundred percent true. We were at Dave & Buster’s and I think I was six years old. He (his dad) always likes to think that I throw the way I do because of him, so he was like ‘all right come here and watch this, I’m going to dunk this lady’. So I’m just sitting there at six years old watching him, and he goes 0-for-3. So I was like let me try, and he was like ‘no you’re not going to be able to do it’ and was like just let me try dad. And he paid the three dollars or whatever it was for three balls, and there was like a clown or somebody, or some dude sitting in the tank, and I think he called me ‘Little Bow Wow’ or something like that.

Just making fun of me, and the first ball I threw I squared it up, just knocked him straight down, and he got up and said ‘you can’t do it again’. Boom straight down (for the second time). Then he kind of got quiet, and there was a big crowd starting to circle because everybody was going nuts because I was this little kid dunking this clown that nobody else was able to dunk two times in a row and I did it again. So that was pretty funny, and then we ended up going to a carnival again a few years later and the same thing, and I dunked them like three-four times in a row.

justin dunn 2

MMO - Was that your earliest baseball memory?

Justin - Honestly, my earliest memory was watching my dad play, he never played at a high level, but that was his passion. Going to watch his games, I think I was five or six, he would go play in a men’s league, and he’d bring me up and I’d be the bat boy for the team. But they would take me out there and let me catch groundballs, take some swings off the tee, stuff like that. And just seeing the fun he had, it was something we could share together, and I knew it was something I wanted to do from a very young age.

MMO - Growing up on Long Island, who were some of your favorite players to watch, and do you have any that you style your game after today?

Justin - I grew up a Yankee fan, so I grew up in the era of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, all those guys, Tino Martinez, so obviously being a New York Yankees fan you’ve got to have Jeter as their favorite player. And I loved David Wright too , I did love David Wright growing up, loved the way he carried himself. Mariano RiveraAndy Pettitte, just that whole New York core on both sides I loved all those guys.

And then now, I don’t really model myself after a single person to be honest, because at the level I’m at now I’m not a fan anymore. So I just like to watch good baseball, so I try to take bits and pieces from everybody because everyone at that level is where I want to be, so they all do something that I don’t know how to do yet. So I try to learn from them, and I just sit back and watch the game and look at things that I’m not doing that they’re doing that helps them get hitters out at that level, because it takes a lot of talent to do that against the best hitters in the world.

MMO - Growing up, did you pitch at an early age? What other positions did you play?

Justin - No, I was small like I said, so I didn’t always throw very hard. I mean I threw decent speed for how old I was, but it wasn’t enough for teams to be like you’re just a pitcher and going to come in and pitch for us. I was actually a middle infielder growing up. And our college coach kind of recruited me that way and said you’re going to be a middle infielder.

Coach Gambino (BC head coach) came to a game, and I’ll never forget it, they brought me into pitch, I forgot why, and he saw me warming up on the side and he’s like ‘drop your arm down a little bit, go at three-quarters, throw like your throwing from shortstop, don’t throw over the top’. And I went into that game and that was the first time I hit 90 at like 16-17 years-old and from then on he was like ‘all right I think he’s a pitcher’. But if you were to ask me when I was younger I thought I was going to be a shortstop. I always loved pitching, but I would’ve said I’m a better defensive player than I am pitcher.

MMO - Were you a decent hitter growing up?

Justin - No I was pretty bad. I’ll mess with people and tell them I was good, I mean I could get the job done, but definitely wasn’t the best though.

MMO - Once you were drafted and signed by the Mets, you started your career in Brooklyn. Tell me about that experience and what it was like pitching so close to home and in front of friends and family.

Justin - Yeah I mean you said it, being able to start my professional career 45 minutes from my house to where I had family and friends coming to see me play that haven’t seen my play since I was 12 years-old. To have close to 15-20 people at every game that I was pitching in was awesome. To come out and see familiar faces, to see my mom, see my dad, see my brother, and then to also have a great group of guys that we had in Brooklyn, it made my first year awesome. And I thought it was a great learning experience for me as a player, I learned a lot about pro ball, (I) have a lot more to learn, but I felt like it was a pretty good grasp for my first season and I was pretty happy with it.

MMO - Can you give me a quick scouting report on yourself for fans that might be new to you? What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?

Justin - Me as a pitcher, I like to consider myself a pitcher with power stuff, where I’m not just going to throw 100 percent fastballs and try to throw it by you, I’m still a pitcher where I have three other pitches that I can come at you with. And I understand how to use all four of them.

But my weakness I would say is my changeup right now. It’s something that we started to develop in college and contributed a lot to my success at school. It was just another pitch for me to help get lefties and righties out, keep people off my fastball and make my fastball that much more effective. So the development of that, and tightening up my slider a little bit and understanding when to use it, when not to use it , when to make it tight when I want to spin it for a stike. Just things like that, the ins and outs of pitching that I didn’t really know before. But I would say I’m definitely a hard thrower who understands how to pitch.

MMO - You pitched out of the pen and started in college, do you have a preference when it comes to starting or relieving?

Justin - Yeah a lot of people ask me that, no I love to pitch. I just love being on the field and that was one of the things that held me back from loving pitching so much when I was younger because I couldn’t pitch everyday, but I could play infield everyday and I just loved being on the field. So for me it’s wherever you need me on the field and wherever I’m going to get a chance to play and do what I love, I’m fine with it.

In college, Coach said you should be a starter but we need you in the back end of the pen to close some games for us in the beginning of the season and I said that’s fine. Whatever’s going to help us win games is what I’m happy with because at the end of the day it’s all about winning, so I don’t have a preference at all, whatever the Mets see me as is what they see me as and I can’t control that and I just want to help (them) win, so whatever it takes to do that, I’ll do.

MMO - What’s the offseason been like for you? What’s a normal training day for you?

Justin - So I came down to Florida for this offseason, I’ve been working out at Cressey Performance in Jupiter. I’ve been working out with Eric (trainer) since I was a freshman in college, he was the start of me working out, and start putting some velocity on my fastball and my body thawing out a little bit. So I came down here with one of my teammates from college, Mike King, and we’ve been working out six days a week.

We throw in the mornings, throwing pens – I threw my sixth pen yesterday (Monday Feb 13), but it’s been going well. I’ve put on about ten-fifteen pounds this offseason, which is always nice, so I mean I’m happy with it and I’m excited to see how it translates into the spring.

MMO - Now every year there’s always the top prospects lists that come out from Keith Law, Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, etc. You’ve made a lot of these lists this year, which must be awesome to see considering you’ve only thrown 30 professional innings. Do you pay close attention to these lists, and what does it mean to you when you see your name listed among the game’s best prospects?

Justin - Yeah I mean it’s awesome, I try not to look into it honestly because there’s a lot of other things that go into the decision making in the front office that aren’t about those lists. So at the end of the day my focus is just going out there and performing and trying to put up some numbers because if you put up numbers then it’s hard to ignore you. The lists are great honors and I’m very appreciative to be on those lists with the great talents in minor league baseball and be mentioned with some of them. But I try not to let them get to my head too much and stay grounded and just keep working hard.

MMO - Thank you again Justin for taking some time to answer some questions, all Mets fans are excited to see your progression and we’ll be rooting for you.

Justin - No problem, thanks for reaching out.

Follow Justin Dunn on Twitter, @Dunn_Deal19

 get metsmerized footer

]]> 0
Getting to Know the Mets 2017 Minor League Coaching Staffs Sat, 11 Feb 2017 15:00:58 +0000 pedro lopez

You’d be hard-pressed to find a hardcore Mets fan who doesn’t know about Terry Collins, Kevin Long, and Dan Warthen. The manager and coaches are vital parts of a team’s success. However, there are also managers and coaches in the Mets minor league affiliated teams that many hardcore fans may not even know much about or know at all.

These managers and coaches help shape the way Major League players are today and likewise are vital for a team’s success.

Las Vegas 51s

Manager – Pedro Lopez

Pedro Lopez was named manager of the Las Vegas 51s for the 2017 season after Wally Backman was let go. Lopez has spent seven seasons in the Texas Rangers organization and nine seasons in the Mets organization as a manager and coach.

From 2008-2011 he jumped around as a coach and manager for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Savannah Sand Gnats, and St. Lucie Mets. For the last five years he served as the manager for the Binghamton Mets compling a 377-329 (.534) record. His overall record as a minor league manager is 809-740 (.522). He also played 13 years in the minors mainly as a catcher.

Coaches - Jack Voigt and Frank Viola

Jack Voigt and Frank Viola will be coming back as hitting coach and pitching coach, respectively. Voight has been the 51s hitting coach since 2015 and has been in the Mets farm system since 2006. Under his coaching, the franchise produced the top three hitters in the Pacific Coast League for the second time in franchise history.

Viola is entering his fourth year as pitching coach and his seventh season overall with the Mets organization. Viola spent 15 years in MLB including three with the Mets (1989-1991).

Binghamton Rumble Ponies

Luis Rojas – Manager

Luis Rojas joins the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in their first year with a new name. Rojas was promoted after Lopez, the all-time winningest manger in Double-A Binghamton franchise history, was promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. Rojas was also promoted as he served as the St. Lucie Mets manager for the last two seasons. In that time, he complied a 142-131 record and clinched a 2016 playoff berth.

The 35-year-old began his time in the Mets farm system as a coach from 2007-2010. Afterwards he spent time as a manager for the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2011 and the Savannah Sand Gnats from 2012-2014. In 2013 he brought the Sand Gnats to a South Atlantic League Championship. The Dominican Republican native managed the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League this past year. He also coached the year prior and won the Dominican Winter League Championship.

Coaches – Luis Natera and Glenn Abbott

Both hitting coach Luis Natera and pitching coach Glenn Abbott will be returning for another season. Natera will be entering his 10th season in Binghamton and 26th overall in the Mets farm system. Last year under Natera, infielder Phillip Evans won the Eastern League batting title with a .335 batting average.

Abbott will be heading into his sixth year as a coach for Binghamton. Last year, eight of his former pitchers made their Major League debuts. The tall right-handed pitched in parts of 11 big league seasons from 1973-1984.

St. Lucie Mets

Manager – Chad Kreuter

With Rojas being promoted to Double-A, the Mets chose former major league catcher Chad Kreuter to take over as manager for St. Lucie.

Kreuter is completely new to the Mets farm system, but he is not completely new to managing. The 52-year-old managed the Advanced-A Modesto Nuts in the Rockies organization back in 2006. Aside from that stint, he also spent four years from 2007-2010 managing the University of Southern California Trojans. There he had a 111-117 record and also had the chance to manage Lucas Duda.

Playing-wise, he had a 16-year career in the Majors split among the Rangers, Dodgers, Tigers, White Sox, Angels, Royals, and Mariners.

Coaches – Valentino Pascucci and Marc Valdes

Valentino Pascucci and Marc Valdes are both entering their second seasons as the St. Lucie hitting and pitching coaches, respectively. Pascucci played 42 games in the Majors; ten of which were for the Mets in 2011. Valdes was the Marlins first-round pick in 1993 and pitched six seasons in the Majors.

Columbia Fireflies

Manager – Jose Leger

Jose Leger will be back for his third season with the Mets class-A level affiliate and his eighth overall in the Mets organization.

Leger, 34, began his managerial career as the skipper of the Dominican Summer League Mets in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, he moved his way up to the Kingsport Mets for three seasons. In 2015, he was named the manager of the then-Savannah Sand Gnats. He led that team to a franchise-best 84-53 record and earned the South Atlantic Manager of the Year award for his efforts. He remained manager as the team moved to Columbia, South Carolina in 2016.

Coaches Joel Fuentes and Jonathan Hurst

Fireflies players won’t be seeing many new faces in the coaching staff as both hitting coach Joel Fuentes and pitching coach Jonathan Hurst will also be coming back. Both coaches were on the team last year.

Fuentes is in his 11th season in the Mets farm system, while Hurst is in his 12th. Fuentes played in 129 minor league games and 171 independent league games as a middle infielder. Hurst pitched in seven Major League games for the Mets and ten overall.

Brooklyn Cyclones

Manager – Edgardo Alfonzo

Most Mets fans don’t need an introduction to Edgardo Alfonzo. Fonzie was named manager of the Cyclones after former manager Tom Gamboa retired.

While Fonzie doesn’t have a long coaching history compared to some of the other managers previously mentioned, he has had a big impact on the Mets organization as a player for eight years and 1086 games. Overall, during his career he hit 146 home runs, drove in 744 RBI, slashed .284/.357/.425/.782, and was good for 28.7 career WAR.

Coaches Sean Ratliff and Royce Ring

Some more former Mets round out the coaching staff. Sean Ratliff is entering his second year with the Cyclones as the hitting coach and his third overall in the Mets farm system. He was the Mets fourth-round pick in 2008, but his career ended in Double-A due to an injury by a foul ball.

Royce Ring is starting his first year as the Cyclones pitching coach and his second overall in the organization. He pitched for five years in MLB including two years (2005-2006) with the Mets.

mmn logo footer

]]> 0
MMO Exclusive Interview: First Base Prospect Peter Alonso Thu, 09 Feb 2017 15:30:51 +0000 peter alonso

After selecting Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, the New York Mets continued the trend of drafting college players with their second round selection (64th overall) of first baseman, Peter Alonso out of the University of Florida.

The six-foot-three, right-handed, slugging first baseman is an intriguing force at the plate, combining raw power and a shortened swing to use the whole field to his advantage at the plate. Speaking with the 22-year-old Tampa native, I immediately got the impression of a player with a terrific work regimen, a simple approach at the plate, and a willingness to strive to be great.

Following the draft, the Mets assigned Alonso to the Brooklyn Cyclones, where he began in grand fashion, carrying a seven-game hitting streak from July 9 to July 15. Unfortunately, Alonso would be relegated to the disabled list following the August 9th game against the Vermont Lake Monsters, where he suffered a broken right pinky finger while trying to avoid a tag at second base.

In all, Alonso played in 30 games with Brooklyn, slashing .321/.382/.587 (led the Cyclones in SLG), with five home runs (tied for the team lead with Brandon Brosher), 21 RBI, 11 walks, and 20 runs scored in 109 at-bats. Here at MMO/MMN, we rated Alonso as the 12th best prospect in the Mets’ organization, however, I have a feeling that after a full healthy season this year, Alonso will become more of a household name for fans, and an intriguing force at the plate to keep an eye on as he progresses throughout the system.

I had the privilege to speak with Alonso earlier this week, and we talked about a wide range of topics, from his draft night experience with his family, to his time with Brooklyn last year, and even a good recommendation for a chicken joint in Brooklyn!

peter alonso

MMO - What was the moment like when you heard your name selected by the New York Mets in the 2nd round of the 2016 Draft? Were you with family and friends when you heard the news?

Pete - Well I was with my parents, both my parents, my little brother Alex, and my girlfriend Hailey. And for draft night I was home, I just wanted to get away from the craziness… And we were practicing (Florida Gators) getting ready for Super Regional, I mean it was a pretty hectic week to say the least, but I just kind of wanted to get away and be with my immediate loved ones and it was definetly the most surreal experience and hearing my name called.

Like I, I just started to cry and I gave my girlfriend the biggest hug ever and gave both my mom and dad a hug. It was so anxiety filled that whole day, but then after my name was called it was just a huge sigh of relief and just a feeling, like my body was tingling, it was just an unbelievable experience to get drafted on the first day, and I’m extremely thankful I got drafted by such a great organization and I’m all in and I’m going to give the Mets everything I’ve got.

MMO - It must’ve been almost an out of body experience, to hear your name called on TV and be drafted by the Mets, something you’ve worked your whole life to reach.

Pete - Yeah it was definitely a dream come true and I couldn’t be happier. I’m just extremely happy and last year got to work real quick and this year I just look to continue off of it, and build off my last first season. So, I’m just really excited for this first full year in pro ball, my first spring training, and I’m just ready to get after it.

MMO - If you had to write a scouting report on yourself, especially for fans that may not know a lot about you, how would you describe your strengths and weaknesses?

Pete - Well, definitely my biggest strength is my bat, but also to go with that, one thing I take pride in is my aggressive approach at the plate. I have a real simple but aggressive approach: if I see a ball that is remotely in my zone, or if I see a pitch that I think I can drive, I’m going to swing at it, or I’m going to take a chance that I’m going to take a good hack at it. Also, at the same token, if you’re a good pitcher then I guess you can use a hitter’s aggressiveness against them, so that’s definitely one of the big things.

For me, once I get that pitch, one of the things I’ve been working on most is capitalizing on the pitches I can drive the most because if I miss that pitch, you may end up getting one pitch an at-bat, or even one pitch per game that you can really do damage with just depending on how good the pitcher is that day, but I mean if the pitcher can really execute then that definitely helps them out with my aggressive approach.

MMO - Growing up in Tampa, Florida who were some of your favorite players to watch, and any that you style your game after today? Do you have any good comparisons or heard of any given to you?

Pete - Well for me the ideal comp, I know it’s kind of embarrassing but I didn’t know who he was until I got to college, I was hitting in the cage one day and Coach O’ Sullivan called me Paul Konerko, and I looked him up on YouTube and saw how great of a player he was, and for me he’s just a big right-right first baseman that can drive the ball, extremely good with the glove, and that’s kind of my best player comp. Also a guy that I like watching now is Paul Goldschmidt and I try to emulate my game after him because he’s just an unbelievable defensive first baseman, he can change the game by either one swing or just an unbelievable defensive play and he just has such a great presence on the field. I love watching Goldy.

MMO - You and your Florida teammates had tremendous success in college, how did the time there help shape and prepare you for where you are now in your career?

Pete - Well college taught me how to put the work in in the right way and realize what I need to work on. As a freshmen coming in it’s like ‘oh you need to work on your hitting’  ’you need to work everything you can a little more specialized’. And I feel like going to college I was a good player throughout my life, and I was kind of more raw and toolsy but going to college definetly helped me refine some of the things in my game, like defense is one of the biggest things ever.

I’m sure you’ve heard reports or whatever, but in high school I had a bad rap for being bad defensively, but I completely changed that. Throughout my college career I was struggling a little bit freshmen year but after that I decided that you know what, I’m tired of it and I’m going to make a change, and I made an extremely, extremely huge conscious effort just to never be labeled as that guy again. And for me also, work on approach things like at the plate, analyze scouting reports better, just nitty gritty things just to help me be more refined and more mature as a player.

MMO - You played primarily third base in high school and then you transitioned to first base in college, is that right?

Pete - Yeah, I played third base in high school and I mean in college, my freshmen year I played a couple of games at third, and then eventually it just turned into we needed a first baseman, and I’m just a corner guy. I think I got a pretty good arm, I’ve got an arm that can be effective at third base and I know that, I know that I have a pretty good arm for a first baseman, and a lot of people told me that’s pretty rare to see. And for me, it’s just making that transition pretty easy, it’s just understanding the game from the first base position because it’s a totally different game.

The game changes for what position you play because it’s just how you perceive everything differently just from a position, because it’s a different game from the shortstop to third base, it’s a different game, it’s crazy. There’s just different little things you need to know and understand for each little description of the position. Understanding that and how it works, I mean it’s very similar to third but also you have to be better communicating with pitchers, second baseman, coverage, different double-play depths, talking to your shortstop, and talking to the catcher.

I feel like you’re a little bit more involved at first, and you’ve got to keep your head on a swivel a little bit more, but I find I adjusted fantastically and I’m just happy that I’ve accomplished so much defensively and I’m only going to get better, because that’s one of the things that I like to stress the most because one thing I learned at the University of Florida from Coach Brad Weitzel is offense can get you in the lineup, but defense keeps you in the lineup.

MMO - To follow up with that, given the situation the Mets are in with the health of David Wright at third, if the Mets asked you to go back to third and take reps at the hot corner, would you feel comfortable transitioning back?

Pete - Of course, I’d take reps wherever they want me, if they wanted me at catch, pitch, play shortstop, center field I don’t care I just want to play.

MMO - You got off to an extremely fast start in Brooklyn, carrying a 7-game hitting streak in your first seven games there. What’s the transition like from going to college to the minor leagues in such a quick fashion as you did? Not to mention coming off the injury you sustained on May 13 when you fractured your fifth metacarpal against Vanderbilt.

Pete - Well I think that being in Brooklyn was awesome because I really enjoyed that group of guys. And I played with or against some of the guys, I played against Blake Tiberi in the Cape (Cape Cod League), I played against Jay Jabs. Desmond Lindsay, he’s a local Florida guy from Bradenton which is 45 minutes down South. I played with Thomas Szapucki in travel ball in high school. I played against Michael Paez in the (College) World Series. And Colby Woodmansee, and Brandon Brosher, we played in high school and prospect showcases and stuff like that together, so it’s not like I didn’t know some of the guys, there were a bunch of familiar faces.

MMO - So having the familiar faces has to make the transition easier.

Pete - Yeah it was a nice easy transition and it was really cool getting to learn some Spanish and stuff like that from some of the Latin guys, I mean it’s interesting, you know? And it’s just a more diverse group of people that I feel like we had an awesome group of guys, and that’s what made it an easy transition. Sometimes it’s not about where you are, it’s who you’re with, and we had a great group of guys. So for me I loved it, I had  a great coaching staff, Tom Gamboa (former Cyclones MGR) was awesome, and Sean Ratliff (Hitting Coach) it was awesome working with him, and of course Edgardo Alfonzo (2017 Cyclones MGR), having him around, being a Mets’ great is just absolutely fantastic and being able to pick his brain, and being able to go to the field and go to work everyday was just awesome and just being around them.

MMO - And when you were playing with Brooklyn did you get the chance to explore NYC much? What are your initial thoughts on the city?

Pete - It’s definitely different but I loved it. On an off day, me and my girlfriend we went to the 9/11 Museum and it was fantastic, absolutely fantastic, that was definitely one of my favorite museums for sure. We also did the Circle Line tour, took the boat around the island of Manhattan which was pretty cool. We got to see different sights and stuff. We went to the Statue of Liberty, we went to Times Square and that was a madhouse (laughs). But my favorite part about New York City is the food, I am such a food guy it’s unbelievable.

MMO - What’s your go-to meal?

Pete - I don’t have one, everything is good.

MMO - No favorite pre-game meal then?

Pete - No, I just like anything that’s tasty, like for me if it’s chicken, steak, pork I don’t care, I am not picky whatsoever. If you make something that’s good I’ll eat it.

MMO - Well you’re in a great city for that man, you have such a diversity of cuisine and everything around, you’ll love it.

Pete - Yeah and it doesn’t matter where you go either, like every deli and every sandwich shop is just as good as the other, it’s fantastic, love it! But my favorite place is Pies and Thighs, it’s a little out of the way from the team hotel (in Brooklyn) kind of in that hipster area right by the bridge, it’s probably about five minutes away from DUMBO, but Pies and Thighs is amazing. It’s the best chicken biscuit you’ll ever have in your life, and I’m from the south so…”

MMO - Your numbers with RISP w/ Brooklyn were insane, you posted a 1.341 OPS w/ 16 RBI in those situations. How do you stay so locked in during those moments, and what’s your approach at the plate with runners on?

Pete - For me I just love getting guys in, I mean that’s what the Mets drafted me to do. For organizations that preach the long ball or whatever, I don’t really.. for me I think the whole point of having a four hole hitter, like you could hit zero home runs but if you have 100 plus RBIs then you’re a run producer, it doesn’t matter.

I’m sure that’s not going to happen, but for me it’s just, ‘I’ve got to get my guys in’. And that’s just what I take pride in and you have to make it personal with the pitcher because he’s got a job too, he’s getting paid to get outs and I’m trying to get paid to get guys in, so it’s just a battle of wills. It’s just mental toughness and I take pride in getting my guys in and coming up clutch in the moment, and that’s what every kid dreams of doing, I’m just lucky enough to get paid for doing that.

MMO - What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the upcoming season? For fans that are curious how players train, can you take me into a normal day or routine for yourself?

Pete - Well for me I wake up and drop my girlfriend off at work and then after that I go lift, throw, hit, and after that eat lunch. Then do some chores around the apartment and do whatever I need to do and pick my girlfriend up from work. And it’s kind of like an 8-5 job because I get my work done, get my lift in, hit for an hour, got to throw, and then some days it may not be hitting it may be taking 100 plus groundballs, doing some base running or conditioning, it just varies from day to day. But the main thing I’ve been working on is trying to transform my body, and I want to come back as big and strong and fast as I possibly can.

Just come back in the best possible shape I can, and I want to transform my body into I guess a big league body, and I just want to be able to make an immediate impact, like the first day of Spring Training I want people to think ‘wow, Pete worked out on the offseason and he’s ready to get after it.

That’s what I want people to think because for me I pride myself on working hard, and I just want people to understand how hard I work and just let them know that no matter what I’m always going to bust my butt and trying to make something happen.  And if it doesn’t that’s fine, at least I can go to bed at night knowing I put my all in it. And for me, I just work hard day in and day out whether it’s in conditioning, lifting, hitting, throwing, fielding; I just take pride in everything I do and how I play the game. I know I got a little bit left, but the itch is real right now and I can’t wait to get back out there.

MMO - Well I can speak for most Mets fans that we’re really excited for you and see how you do, we’re rooting for you and we’ll be watching, thanks again for taking the time to talk today Pete.

Pete - Thank you, I appreciate you reaching out and hopefully you’ll ask for another one down the road.

Follow Pete on Twitter: @PeterAlonso20

mmn logo footer

]]> 0
2017 Mets Top 30 Prospects: #18 Gabriel Ynoa, RHP Thu, 26 Jan 2017 16:51:23 +0000 gabriel-ynoa

#18 RHP Gabriel Ynoa

Ht: 6’2″  Wt: 205  Level: Triple-A Las Vegas 51s and New York Mets

B/T: R/R  Age: 05/26/1993 (23)  Age Dif: -3.7 (w/ Triple-A Las Vegas)

Acquired: Signed by the New York Mets as a international free agent on Nov. 19, 2009.

Last Year: #14

2016 Statistics: 25 G, 154.1 IP, 12-5 W-L, 3.97 ERA, 1.361 WHIP, .285 BAA, 78/40 K/BB, 15 HR (Triple A)

10 G, 3 GS, 18.1 IP, 1-0 W/L, 6.38 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, .333 BAA, 17/7 K/BB, 0 HR (MLB)

If it feels like you’ve heard the name Gabriel Ynoa for years now, you’re not mistaken. Ynoa was signed by the New York Mets as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in November 2009. He burst onto the scene in his first professional season in 2010 with the Dominican Summer League Mets 2, leading the team in wins (5), innings pitched (72.1), and posting a sparkling 1.99 ERA, all while doing so at close to two years younger than the competition (-1.9).

While not a strikeout pitcher, averaging only 4.4 K/9 in his first professional season, what Ynoa set a precedent with was his pinpoint control, as he allowed only 1.0 BB/9 in the 14 games he pitched in ’10. In fact, Ynoa has kept up with that trend; for his minor league career, which accounts for 136 games (128 of them starts), Ynoa owns a 1.5 BB/9.

Ynoa sits in the low 90s with his fastball, but can ramp it up to 96 mph. Ynoa’s arsenal consists of a four-seam fastball, hard sinker, curve, slider, and changeup. Despite Ynoa’s low strikeout total, he limits the damage done against opponents by his low HR/9 and BB/9 numbers in the minor leagues.

Splitting time with the Kingsport Mets and GCL Mets in ’11 to auspicious results (3.21 ERA with 0.6 BB/9 over 56 IP), Ynoa took it to another level in ’12 with the Brooklyn Cyclones, where he posted a 5-2 record with a 2.23 ERA and 0.926 WHIP (12th in the NYPL). Ynoa also posted his best K/9 of his minor league career with the Cyclones at 7.5, while only allowing 10 walks in 76.2 innings pitched. The ’12 season also saw Ynoa get ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the Mets organization by Baseball America. Ynoa would be featured in the top 16 by Baseball America from 2013-15, and for 2017′s Top 10 Mets prospects, would place 9th on the list.

Ynoa would get the chance to pitch a full-season in ’13 with the former Savannah Sand Gnats (now Columbia Fireflies), where he was the clear ace of the staff, posting a 15-4 record (best among the Sand Gnats and the South Atlantic League), 2.72 ERA, 1.025 WHIP, and 1.1 BB/9 (3rd best in the league). His best two months were in June and August, where Ynoa combined to go 6-0 with a 1.71 ERA in eight starts.

After his successful campaign in Savannah, which saw him take home the Sterling Pitcher of the Year award, Ynoa spent the ’14 season splitting time between the Advanced A St. Lucie Mets, and the Double A Binghamton Mets. He struggled in April while with St. Lucie, posting a 6.93 ERA in five starts with an uncharacteristic nine walks in 24.2 innings pitched. He improved in May to a 1.45 ERA in 31 innings of work. Ynoa was promoted to Binghamton in early July, but pitched to rather pedestrian results: 3-2 record with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.303 WHIP. Combined, Ynoa allowed 10.3 H/9 between St. Lucie and Binghamton, a career worst. His 1.311 WHIP was also a career worst for the right-hander.

The Mets had Ynoa repeat his season in Binghamton in ’15, before he was assigned to Triple A Las Vegas for the ’16 season. He survived the dry air of Vegas in 25 starts for the most part, posting a 12-5 record with a 3.97 ERA, however, his BB/9 increased to 2.3, a career worst. Ynoa continued to struggle against left-handed hitters though, where they teed off to an OPS of .873, compared to his .686 OPS against righties. The last time Ynoa held left handed hitters to an OPS under .600 was in ’13, and has only registered an OPS under .600 against LHH twice in his career.

The big club was in need of a fresh arm in August, after the Logan Verrett fifth starter experiment failed after he went seven starts between July 9 and August 12, allowing 29 earned runs and 18 walks. Ynoa made his major league debut on August 13 (the same day as his promotion) and was the winning pitcher of record as he pitched a clean 11th inning of a 3-2 extra-innings Mets win against the San Diego Padres. Ynoa would go on to make three spot starts for the Mets in September and October, posting a 3.18  ERA in 11.1 innings pitched, striking out 11 while walking four.

Mike M adds…

Ynoa averaged 94.3 MPH with his fastball in the big leagues and also threw his slider 28% of the time. With some more time with Dan Warthen to refine his slider and additional bullpen experience I believe he can be a viable option for the Mets as a reliever in 2017. The fastball played up in his relief appearances, and while they weren’t pretty (11.57 ERA), he had little to no experience as a reliever when the Mets (Terry Collins) thrust him into that role. Hopefully the Mets will use him in the pen this spring so he can become better adjusted to that role if that’s what he’s needed for.

The changeup is a pitch that has always been a positive for Ynoa, but he got away from using that during his big league stint and I believe that was part of his troubles during his first major league taste.

2017 Outlook:

Ynoa will likely be insurance for the Mets to begin the ’17 season. With the return of Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, and Matz, not to mention Syndergaard, Lugo, and Gsellman, the Mets have a plethora of starting rotation options, which means it’s likely we see Wheeler and/or Lugo end up in the bullpen to begin the year. With that said, Ynoa should be pitching every fifth day for Las Vegas, where he’ll get consistent starts. Having a surplus of back end starting pitching is always a good thing, and there’s some that view Ynoa more favorably out of the pen, especially with the uptick in K/9 while with the Mets at the end of the year (8.3 K/9, a career high).


1. Amed Rosario, SS 

2. Dominic Smith, 1B 

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP 

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP 

7. Gavin Cecchini, INF 

8. Brandon Nimmo, OF

9. Andres Gimenez, SS 

10. Tomas Nido, C 

11. Wuilmer Becerra, OF 

12. Peter Alonso, 1B

13. Marcos Molina, RHP

14. Ali Sanchez, C

15. T.J. Rivera, INF

16. Luis Carpio, INF

17. Merandy Gonzalez, RHP

mmn logo footer



]]> 0
2017 Mets Top 30 Prospects: #16 Luis Carpio, INF Tue, 24 Jan 2017 12:00:16 +0000 luis carpio

#16 INF Luis Carpio

Ht: 6’0″  Wt: 165  B/T: R/R  Age: 7/11/1997 (19)  Age Dif: -1.5 w/ GCL, -3.1 w/ Brooklyn

2016 Level: Rookie GCL Mets, Short-Season A Brooklyn Cyclones

Acquired: Signed by the New York Mets as a non-drafted free agent on July 11, 2013

Last Year: #8

2016 Statistics: 20 G, 74 AB, 7 R, 15 H, 3 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 9 BB, 21 K, .203/.314/.270

Don’t let the numbers fool you, Luis Carpio wasn’t even expected to play in 2016. Carpio underwent surgery to repair a labrum tear in his right shoulder last March, which Marc Carig of Newsday confirmed and stated he’d likely miss the entire 2016 season.

According to MMO/MMN’s Jacob Resnick, Carpio had reportedly complained about the injury playing last winter, which eventually led to the surgery. The healing process progressed faster than expected for the teenage prospect, as he made his return to the diamond on August 10 as the designated hitter for the GCL Mets, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk in his return. After eight games with the GCL Mets, Carpio was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones, where he’d finish out the year going 6-for-43 with two doubles, eight walks, and four runs scored. He remained at DH in all 12 games with the Cyclones.

Rewind back to July 2013, when the New York Mets signed the then 16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop for $300,000, listed as the No. 30 international prospect. Carpio was one of four substantial international signings the Mets made that summer, along with C Ali Sanchez, SS Yeffry de Aza, and RHP Luis Silva.

Scouts were intrigued with his athleticism, speed, work ethic, and smooth line-drive swing from the right side of the plate. Carpio made his professional debut in 2014 with the Dominican Summer League, where he was 2.3 years younger than most of the competition. In 60 games, Carpio slashed .234/.347/.301, drawing as many walks (33) as strikeouts, and stole 12 out of 16 bases.

Offensively in 2015, Carpio improved his entire slash line while playing 45 games with the Kingsport Mets in the Appalachian League, to the tune of a .304 batting average (11th best in league), .372 OBP (12th best), and .359 slugging. He registered a .345 wOBA along with a 109 wRC+, both improvements from his ’14 campaign of .334 wOBA and 98 wRC+. Although his BB% dropped 5% from 2014 (13.2% to 8.2%), he was aggressive at the plate and still registered a career high .372 OBP, in part due to a high BABIP (.364).

Nonetheless, Carpio demonstrated a ton of tools in 2015, and did so at almost four years younger than the average competition (-3.6 years). His reverse splits were also solid in ’15, posting a .733 OPS against right-handed pitching and a .723 OPS against lefties, a major improvement over his .685 OPS against righies and .510 OPS against lefties in ’14. Carpio was named the 7th best prospect in the Appalachian League by Baseball America following the conclusion of the 2015 season.

He split his time playing shortstop and second base in 2014 and ’15, showcasing his polished range and lateral movements, good initial first step, and handling the double-play ball well, including the feeds and turns. Most scouts grade Carpio’s arm at about average, however, after going through the right shoulder surgery last March, Carpio might be best suited at second, not only for the shorter distance on throws but also due to the Mets being loaded at the shortstop position in the minors including top prospect Amed Rosario.

Speaking of Rosario, comparing his time in Kingsport in ’13 as a 17-year-old to Carpio’s ’15 campaign at the same age, Carpio led Rosario in the following categories: batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, runs, stolen bases, doubles, and walks. And Carpio posted these numbers in 13 less games than Rosario played in (58 to 45 games played).

2017 Outlook: 

Carpio should open the 2017 season with Class A Columbia Fireflies, where he’ll experience a full season of minor league ball. He’ll open the season as a 19-year-old, not turning 20 until July. The hope is to see Carpio continue to impress with his mature approach at the plate, while filling out his frame a bit more, with the hope of reaching double-digit power as Baseball Prospectus had projected when they named him the Mets No. 3 prospect prior to the 2016 season.

He could shift to second base full-time in ’17, which will place a greater emphasis on his offense to make up for the position change. If he can use his ’15 season with Kingsport as a springboard, Carpio should continue to progress and impress at his young age, while also playing with older competition.


1. Amed Rosario, SS

2. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Robert Gsellman, RHP

4. Thomas Szapucki, LHP

5. Desmond Lindsay, OF

6. Justin Dunn, RHP

7. Gavin Cecchini, INF

8. Brandon Nimmo, OF

9. Andres Gimenez, SS

10. Tomas Nido, C

11. Wuilmer Becerra, OF

12. Peter Alonso, 1B

13. Marcos Molina, RHP

14. Ali Sanchez, C

15. T.J. Rivera, INF

mmn logo footer



]]> 0
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

mmn logo footer


]]> 0
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.

get metsmerized footer

]]> 0
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.

get metsmerized footer

]]> 0
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.

get metsmerized footer

]]> 0
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.

get metsmerized footer

]]> 0
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!

MMO footer

]]> 0
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)

MMO footer

]]> 0
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.

]]> 0
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)

]]> 0
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.

]]> 0
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.

]]> 0
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.

* * * * * * * *

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

MMO footer

]]> 0
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.

]]> 0
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.

]]> 0
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.

MMO footer

]]> 0
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)

]]> 0