Cyclones Chemistry Still Strong|
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Wednesday, July 18, 2007
If you ask anyone who followed the team last year, the Brooklyn Cyclones season changed drastically after the team was defeated in 26-innings on July 20 by the Oneonta Tigers. Out of pitchers and forced to bring in right fielder Mark Wright to pitch the last two innings of the game, Wright left it all on the field and made the ultimate sacrifice for his team. Soon after, the team came together as a whole and wound up making the playoffs after a miserable 2-13 record to start the season.
This year however, the Mets Single-A affiliate has benefited by spending most of extended spring training together and getting the most out of their new draftees. Manufacturing runs the old-school way- using speed, grit and smarts, Brooklyn has been able to produce enough offense to protect their more than adequate pitching staff, helping them to an 19-7 record through their first 26 games.
“Every time the opposition scores, we come right back and score runs,” said Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo. “I told everyone from the beginning that we were going to play small ball and were going to try and to create as much offense as possible. Looking at the way things are now, I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of these guys. They understand what it takes to win and they never give up. We have a group of guys here that love to fight and the game’s not over with them until the last out.”
Getting consistent offensive production from J.R. Voyles [three homers, 20 RBI], Will Vogl [30 hits, 11 RBI] and Micah Schilling [25 hits, five stolen bases] all season, the 2007 Cyclones offense may be one of the best in the team’s young history. If being productive wasn’t enough however, the team has been extremely clutch as well, coming from behind and producing huge innings at will, making things easy for their young pitching staff.
“When you get so much support offensively, it makes things easier on the mound,” said Cyclones starter Nick Carr. “These also help us out defensively every night and make sure the make the plays they have to, which might be even more important than swinging the bat.”
However, while the offense has been extremely solid this season, the pitching staff has been equally spectacular either. Always having one of the best pitching staffs in the NY-Penn League since they joined the league in 2001, Cyclones fans have come to expect their team’s pitching staff to be one of the best in the league every year.
Through 26 games this season, it’s easy to see that the young ‘Clones haven’t disappointed anyone.
Getting solid starting pitching from Carr [2-0, 31 K’s in 25 IP], Joseph Leaper [2.14 ERA in four starts] and 20th round pick Dylan Owen [3-0, 2.08 ERA], Brooklyn’s staff has kept the Cyclones in almost every game they’ve played this season. The bullpen as well, powered by relievers Stephen Clyne [four saves], Edgar Ramirez [2.19 ERA in seven appearances] and Josh Appell [1.79 ERA in 10 appearances] have been extremely dominant and have shut down opposing hitters during crunch time, helping fuel more than a few come from behind wins this season and have helped form one of the best pitching staffs in all of minor league baseball.
“The direction we’re going in is incredible,” said reliever David Koons. “We’re hot right now and we’re going to try and stay on top for as long as we can.”
With all the success currently being enjoyed in Brooklyn, big things are expected from the Mets Single-A affiliate this season. While it’s too early to tell where this team will finish by the end of the season, it’s obvious that they all love playing together and want to stay as hot as possible.
“The fans here are great and every player on this team gets a rush coming out on the field here,” said starter Tim Stronach. “I think that’s got to be one of the reasons why we’ve been so successful this season.”