Minor League Season in Review: Brooklyn Cyclones

For today's thrilling episode of 'Minor League Monday', we're going to continue our 'Season in Review' series by profiling one of the more exciting Mets affiliates in recent memory, the 2010 Brooklyn Cyclones.

Team Spotlight

Where else can we start than with the Cyclones demonstrative, highly controversial but undeniably successful manager, Wally Backman.  Backman made his triumphant return to affiliated baseball with the Cyclones in 2010, his first such gig since the whole Diamondbacks debacle back in '04.  Backman lived up to fans expectations as a character and then some this season, coaching his own third base, relentlessly pushing his ultra-aggressive style and of course letting quite a few umpires know where they could stick it.  Backman fit the Brooklyn attitude to a T so it's almost a shame that he'll likely end up quite a bit higher on the organizational ladder next season.

As far as the team itself, as I mentioned it was quite a memorable season for the Cyclones.  From day one the Cyclones dominated the New York-Penn League, especially in the friendly confines of MCU Park where they went an incredible 30-8 during the regular season.  Brooklyn played a very well-rounded style of baseball but was anchored by their monstrous offense which led the NYPL in runs, AVG, OPS, total bases, homers and most other offensive stats.  The Cyclones bats were on record-setting pace until injuries struck around the All-Star Break, claiming their shortstop and leadoff hitter Rylan Sandoval for the season and slowing key cogs like Cory Vaughn & Darrell Ceciliani at various points.  Though hitting was their stronger suit, the Brooklyn pitching was nothing to scoff at, leading the circuit in both ERA and WHIP for the year.  Starters like Angel Cuan & Yohan Almonte posted ERA's around 2 while Cyclones closer Ryan Fraser established himself as a very intriguing power arm, allowing just five earned runs all season.  Naturally, Brooklyn led the NYPL in All-Stars with eight representatives.

Overall, the 'Clones posted a 51-24 record, good enough for a .680 win percentage, tops among all US-based minor league teams in 2010.  They finished the year twelve games ahead of the next closest team in the McNamara Division, sealing homefield advantage throughout the NYPL playoffs.  Unfortunately, the Cyclones looked far less crisp in those playofs than they had throughout the regular season, especially in the starting pitching department (5.52 Playoffs ERA).  Just about the only aspect of their game that held true troughout the playoffs was their penchant for poor defense.  They did manage to win their semi-finals matchup against Jamestown with their backs to the wall, but finally in the championship series they ran out of magic, dropping the series 2-0 to the average but streaking Tri-City Valleycats.  Regardless, it truly was a special season this summer out in Coney Island.

 

Final Standings:  

TEAM W L PCT GB
Brooklyn 51 24 .680 -
Hudson Valley 39 36 .520 12
Aberdeen 34 40 .459 16.5
Staten Island 34 40 .459 16.5

 

 

The Usual Suspects

 CF Darrell Ceciliani - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BRK NYP .351 68 271 56 95 19 12 2 35 144 24 56 21 14 .410 .531 .941

After a somewhat inauspicious pro debut last year in Kingsport, Ceciliani blew up this year, establishing himself as one, if not THE, top outfielders in the Mets farm system.  The '09 fourth rounder set Brooklyn records for batting average, hits and triples this year on his way to a NYPL Batting Title and organizational Sterling Award.  He sported a .410 OBP, was top three in the league in total bases and extra-bases and played gold glove-caliber defense all year; he even batted .474 during the postseason, all this as the youngest player on the team.  Now he wasn't without flaw; his 24:56 BB-to-K ratio could use improvement, same goes for his 18.5% K-rate.  And for someone so fast he can't be getting caught on the bases 14 out of 31 total attempts (60% sb success rate).  The development of his power from gap-to-gap to true home run pop will probably determine whether he jumps up from very good to great prospect status at some point, but either way Ceciliani showed the kind of ability and tools this season to really solidify himself as a top prospect.  A jump up to Hi-A St. Lucie in 2011 would certainly be justified if the Mets were so inclined.

 

RF Cory Vaughn - [new to organization]

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BRK NYP .307 72 264 45 81 14 5 14 56 147 34 63 12 5 .396 .557 .953

Vaughn was nothing short of spectacular in his pro debut this year, showing real potential as a middle-of-the-order run producer and surely making the decision for Brooklyn's MVP a tough one.  After getting drafted in the fourth round out of San Diego St., Vaughn (to his credit) signed very quickly and got right to hitting as the Cyclones cleanup man.  And hit he did; like Ceciliani, Vaughn's name is all over the league's offensive leader boards as he led the league in slugging and OPS while finishing top three in homers, extra-bases, doubles, RBI's and a whole host of other offensive categories.  He also showcased his all-around athletic ability stealing twelve bases and covering center field in a pinch and what really surprised those who had watched him in college was the increased plate discipline he showed, walking in an exemplary 12.8%  of his ab's.  Vaugh himself attributed the overall improvement at the dish to regular playing time, which he didn't always receive at San Diego State.  On the down side, his K-rates and BB:K worsened pretty significantly after the All-Star Break (13:31 in his final thirty games, 21:29 in 38 games before that) further bolstering critics' claims that he was a college player beating up on inferior competition.  This is why a promotion up to Hi-A next spring should be an interesting litmus test about how legitimate Vaughn's power bat really is.

 

SS Rylan SandovalSTOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .115 9 26 3 3 0 0 0 1 3 5 9 0 0 .343 .115 .458
STL FSL .217 10 23 4 5 0 0 0 0 5 3 11 1 0 .419 .217 .637
BRK NYP .330 47 185 34 61 13 0 9 29 101 16 35 8 5 .404 .546 .950
Minors   .295 66 234 41 69 13 0 9 30 109 24 55 9 5 .398 .466 .864

Quite a season for a 2009 non-drafted free agent.  After getting jerked around for the first month as injury filler, Sandoval was one of the top offensive players in the NYPL for the first half of the summer as the Cyclones shortstop and leadoff hitter.  Unfortunately for Sandoval, he was hit with a pitch just before the ASG (and two days before his birthday) and missed the rest of the year with a broken wrist.  Had he qualified, his numbers would have put him in the top three in average, slugging and OPS and even with the injury he finished fourth in homers and again, that's from a shortstop.  Now there's a reason he went undrafted; his tools don't blow anyone away (he's 5'10" and not very fast) and defensively he needs some work (he made eight errors in under fifty games).  More so than Vaughn, Sandoval may well be a case of an older player (turned 23 in August) taking advantage of greener competition so he won't find his way onto many prospect rankings, but his power is for real and there's no lack of effort in this kid. 



















 C Blake Forsythe - [new to organization]

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
MTS GCL .200 3 10 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 2 0 0 .273 .200 .473
BRK NYP .238 30 101 14 24 5 1 3 8 40 11 41 1 1 .310 .396 .706
Minors   .234 33 111 14 26 5 1 3 8 42 12 43 1 1 .307 .378 .685

Quite a disappointing pro debut for the Mets 2010 third round selection (second pick overall).  Coming into the draft the big redhead was known for two things, excellent power and lots of strikeouts.  Well he did a lot of one, not so much of the other; in a park where home runs were flying out this summer, Forsythe hit just three with a sub-.400 slugging percentage.  Meanwhile he featured a mind-boggling 40.5% K-rate, and wayyy too many of them were looking considering he walked just eleven times.  Maybe chalk this up to an Ike Davis-like unlucky debut in Brooklyn but considering the kid didn't have a great senior season this spring with Tennessee, I'm already starting to worry that this was a blown pick. 

 

LHP Angel Cuan - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 0 0 0.00 3 0 0 0 0 4.1 3 0 0 0 1 2 2.67 .200
BRK NYP 5 1 2.03 14 14 0 0 0 79.2 68 26 18 2 17 64 0.92 .230
Minors   5 1 1.93 17 14 0 0 0 84.0 71 26 18 2 18 66 0.98 .228

After an OK 2009 in Kingsport, Cuan really opened some eyes as he proved to be the Cyclones most reliable starter this season.  In his fourteen starts in 2010 the 21 year old allowed more than two earned runs just twice.  Cuan is a lefty cut out of the Antonini/Cohoon mold; he clearly has an idea about how to fool hitters which is really facilitated by his exceptional command from the left side.  Unfortunately, he's a rather small guy (5'11") with a bit less stuff/velocity than those two so he's really going to have to prove himself at each rung of the organizational ladder.

 

RHP Yohan Almonte - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BRK NYP 8 4 1.91 15 15 1 1 0 89.2 68 28 19 1 15 60 1.34 .207

Other than handedness, there are lots of similarities between Almonte and Cuan.  Almonte too had a middling season with Kingsport in '09 before throwing his name into the prospect ring with an ERA around 2 in Brooklyn this year.  Featuring similar low walk rates as well as low K-rates, Almonte too carved up New York-Penn League hitters to the tune of a .207 average against.  Not quite as steady as Cuan (see: five runs allowed in playoff opener), Almonte did flash better velocity though less developed secondary stuff.  But the long-limbed righty probably has a bit more projection in him than Cuan does, expecially considering he pitched the season as a twenty year old.  Also like Cuan, Almonte certainly doesn't have a huge pitcher's build and isn't oozing with stuff so he's definitely a 'show me'-type prospect.

 

RHP Ryan Fraser - [new to organization]

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BRK NYP 3 3 1.44 26 0 0 0 12 31.1 16 7 5 0 20 39 1.74 .155

Fraser possessed the most powerful arm on the entire Brooklyn staff in 2010, blowing NYPL hitters away as the Cyclones' closer.  After being drafted in the 16th round this June out of Memphis, Fraser flew out of the gates, allowing just a single earned run through June & July.  He slowed down in August, allowing three runs for the month but more importantly, walking batters A LOT more often (2.6 BB/9 in July vs. 7.9 BB/9 in August).  Fraser's story sounds a lot like Bobby Parnell's:  Big, strong righty fireballer with undeveloped secondary stuff and spotty fb command drafted in the middle rounds out of a solid college program in the South, bouncing between starting and relief in college.  Fraser is already in the 'pen as a pro but there are rumblings that the Mets want to see what he can do as a starter.  Like Parnell, I see Fraser moving fast once they commit to a long-term role as a high-velocity reliever and the if he can keep those walks under control, Fraser could be very useful at the highest levels.

 

More Names to Watch For

The Cyclones had a couple more slugging All-Star infielders in 3B Joe Bonfe and 1B Jeff Flagg.  And while both put up nice years and showed some ability with the bat, both is too old for the league and probably isn't much more than org. filler...2010 fourteenth rounder 2B JB Brown did some very nice things in a somewhat limited role (.308 AVG, .800 OPS) and could profile very much like a Justin Turner-style player...Eighteenth rounder out of the U. of Tampa RHP AJ Pinera posted a nice 2.41 ERA with solid peripherals in his fourteen appearances (eleven starts) with Brooklyn.  Though he may be slated for the bullpen long-term, he's my pick to follow guys like Gee, Cohoon & Antonini as the Mets mid-round diamond in the rough starter from 2010...The organization added LHP Nelson Pereira this winter after he was released by the Pirates.  He's had consistent success but their feeling was that a lefty with eh stuff but good control can carve up young guys, not so much at upper levels.  That may be true but his 16.2 inning, 0 runs, 5 hits streak (including two starts) to end the season is still nice to see.

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