2011 Mets Minor League Season in Review: Brooklyn Cyclones

Today we're going to continue our Minor League Season in Review series by circling back to the Mets' Short Season-A New York-Penn League affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones

Team Spotlight

In his 30th season as a professional coach, former big league coach and minor league player, manager and instructor Rich Donnelly took the helm for the Cyclones in 2011, with longtime major league pitcher Frank Viola making his professional coaching debut as their Pitching Coach. The club was mostly an average, unassuming bunch throughout the year -- aside from a midsummer cameo by some guy on rehab duty named Jose Reyes. But they really found their rhythm in the final weeks as they'd win 11 of their final 14 games to clinch the NYPL Wild Card -- narrowly missing out on the division crown. For the second consecutive year -- and their eighth in the last 11 -- the Cyclones were playoff-bound; however they'd ultimately lose their first round matchup against the hated rivals -- and eventual NYPL Champions -- from Staten Island. It should be pointed out that the Cyclones were 10-5 against the Yankees during the regular season in 2011.

Statistically, the Cyclones were once again bolstered by a strong pitching staff. Despite the lack of any one standout performance the Brooklyn moundsmen boasted top three finishes in the circuit in ERA, strikeouts, walks and shutouts. Unlike 2010's dominant rotation, the key in 2011 was a lights-out bullpen, which featured seven relievers with at least 12 or more innings pitched and an ERA below 3.

On the offensive side, the Cyclones featured one of the NYPL's top lineups. The club would end up finishing in the top three in all three triple-slash categories while once again boasting the league's batting champion. Like Darrell Ceciliani before him, SS Danny Muno posted a .350+ mark to bring home the title while also ranking among the league leaders in on-base and total bases. Meanwhile, fellow 2011 draftee OF Travis Taijeron gave the 'clones one of the league's most potent power threats, as he'd run away with the NYPL slugging title.

Final Standings:

TEAM W L PCT GB
Staten Island
45 28 .616 -
Brooklyn 45 29 .608 .5
Hudson Valley
37 39 .487 9.5
Aberdeen 24 51 .320 22

Player Spotlight

RHP Eduardo Aldama - STOCK DOWN

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BRK NYP 3 5 5.37 14 14 0 0 0 60.1 61 37 36 5 29 68 0.73 .261

Not a great year for the hard-throwing righty from Venezuela. Despite the strong K-rate, he was a little more hittable than you'd want to see from a guy with a very strong arm. Coming off of injuries in 2010, he began his season a bit late and ended it a bit early. It might be time for a move to the 'pen for the 22-yr old in 2012 to take full advantage of his good fastball.

RHP Eric Beaulac - STOCK HOLDING

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
MTS GCL 0 1 16.87 2 2 0 0 0 2.2 2 5 5 0 4 1 0.50 .250
BRK NYP 1 0 2.35 5 0 0 0 0 7.2 7 5 2 0 4 7 1.83 .226
STL FSL 0 1 3.27 13 1 0 0 0 22.0 28 10 8 2 7 23 1.35 .308
Minors 1 2 4.18 20 3 0 0 0 32.1 37 20 15 2 15 31 1.33 .285

Last winter was a big one for the 6'5" sinkerballer who was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his hip and underwent a procedure to have his hip bone shaved down to eliminate the problem -- much like Reese Havens with his rib. The fix was meant to clear up his lingering health issues but like Havens, he too ended up on the DL in 2011. Although for Beaulac it was just blisters. And when he pitched the '08 ninth rounder from Troy, NY continued to be relatively effective, striking out nearly a batter an inning, forcing a good amount of ground balls and posting a strong ERA against A-ball hitters for the fourth straight season. That's part of the issue though with Beaulac as the four year college grad is already 25. Like Aldama, 2012 may be the right time for a full-time move to the 'pen where he can begin to move quicker.

SS Phillip Evans - [New to Org.]

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
MTS GCL .333 4 15 3 5 2 0 0 1 7 2 3 0 1 .412 .467 .878
KNG APP .364 3 11 3 4 2 0 0 3 6 1 2 0 0 .417 .545 .962
BRK NYP .125 2 8 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .125 .125 .250
Minors .294 9 34 7 10 4 0 0 4 14 3 5 0 1 .351 .412 .763

Not a ton to pour over here as there's little to learn from 15 pro at bats. So instead we'll just appreciate the fact that the Mets were able to nab the 18-yr old Evans -- considered by some a late first round talent -- with their 15th round selection. Possessing 20/20 sort of potential, Evans has an excellent idea of the strike zone for a high school hitter though there is some concern that the power from his smaller frame may not play at the major league level.

1B Cole Frenzel - [New to Org.]

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BRK NYP .238 43 160 23 38 4 1 1 20 47 17 35 1 0 .321 .294 .614

The Mets 2011 seventh rounder, Frenzel was underwhelming for the Cyclones in his pro debut. The U. of Arizona junior known for excellent plate discipline struck out twice as often as he walked and batted just .154 against lefties. People like to bring up the story of another Arizona kid who started slow as a first baseman for Brooklyn but Frenzel doesn't have nearly Ike Davis' pedigree, knocking just three homers as a collegiate player. Obviously the Mets scouts saw a big kid with an idea at the plate who they feel will develop the power to justify a mid-round selection but this one looks like a big time reach to me.

3B Brian Harrison - STOCK DOWN

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BRK NYP .237 62 219 31 52 7 0 3 30 68 23 45 2 0 .332 .311 .643

I was high on the athletic, yet injury-prone 2010 13th rounder coming into the 2011 season. He'd just posted a .900 OPS with seven homers in just 35 games in his pro debut with the Cyclones -- he even matched a Brooklyn record with a six-RBI game. And he was about to make a return appearance. But things never got off the ground for the 23-yr old who struck out a whole lot more and hit for zero power, slugging just .311. I'm still watching based on the promise he had but as the saying goes once bitten, twice shy.

LHP Jack Leathersich - [New to Org.]

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BRK NYP 0 0 0.71 9 0 0 0 1 12.2 6 1 1 0 3 26 1.00 .136

You can't help but be impressed by the pro debut of the Mets 2011 fifth rounder out of UMass - Lowell, a DII school. Specifically, the kid known on Twitter as the Leather Rocket absolutely annihilated NYPL hitters to the tune of a 0.71 ERA with 26 strikeouts vs. just three walks in 12.2 IP. Again, 26 K's, three walks. Incredible. He also held opponents to a .136 average and didn't allow a homer. Obviously we can't go too nuts over such a small sample but you pretty much couldn't draw up a better pro debut.

3B Richard Lucas - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BRK NYP .300 69 250 46 75 19 3 6 41 118 31 66 2 2 .385 .472 .857

After busting onto the scene back in '09 with a highly impressive 1.000+ OPS showing for the K-Mets, '07 fourth rounder Richard Lucas was aggressively promoted up to Hi-A St. Lucie in 2010. And not surprisingly, he was overmatched. In 2012, he was back to where he should have been the season before and though he was a bit old for the league, Lucas once again showed the kind of pop that made the Mets draft him so early. Lucas ranked fourth in the NYPL in doubles and sixth in homers and posted a strong .172 ISO. His plate discipline wasn't back to '09 levels but he did get his BB% back up over 10% while bringing his K% down from the horrid 30+% mark of 2010. All in all, Lucas showed that he's still got the interesting mix of patience and power that makes him worth keeping an eye on going forward, he'll just need to progress slowly.

SS Danny Muno - [New to Org.]

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BRK NYP .355 59 220 45 78 23 3 2 24 113 43 39 9 4 .466 .514 .980

The 22-yr old 2011 eighth rounder out of Fresno St. looked like one of the best value picks in the draft, showing off a good combination of plate discipline and contact skills, while also hitting for some impressive gap power as well. Much like Darrell Ceciliani in his outstanding 2010, Muno was all over the NYPL leaderboards last season, leading the league in doubles, average, on-base, OPS and he came in third in slugging. Like Ceciliani, Muno stands to lose some ground next year based on unsustainable BABIP gains (.435) but his advanced approach and knowledge of the strike zone give him a better chance to follow up with another strong effort.

RHP Tyler Pill - [New to Org.]

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
MTS GCL 0 0 4.50 2 0 0 0 0 2.0 3 1 1 0 0 1 0.33 .375
BRK NYP 1 0 3.86 7 1 0 0 0 7.0 4 3 3 0 3 9 9.00 .174
Minors 1 0 4.00 9 1 0 0 0 9.0 7 4 4 0 3 10 2.50 .226

Like Evans, not a ton to take from 9 pro innings but good to see him getting his feet wet for the Cyclones. Sort of reminds me of last year's sixth round selection, RHP Greg Peavey; three year college player with good command, good mix of numerous pitches, average velocity.

OF Javier Rodriguez - STOCK HOLDING

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .209 26 86 10 18 3 1 4 4 35 9 15 0 1 .284 .407 .691
BRK NYP .257 67 249 32 64 22 2 4 43 102 34 62 5 0 .349 .410 .759
Minors .245 93 335 42 82 25 3 8 47 137 43 77 5 1 .333 .409 .742

After floundering in his first exposure to A-ball pitching in Savannah, he was backtracked down to Brooklyn in June where he had a little bit more success. The backward movement is not incredibly damning for Rodriguez as he's perfectly age appropriate for the NYPL, it just speaks more to his vanishing potential as a top flight early round selection back in '08, especially now that's lost a lot of value by moving to right field. Regardless, he's still showing decent progress developmentally, besting his career walk rate by 4+ percentage points in 2011 while shrinking his K% a bit and even boasting a nearly .200 ISO in his brief time with Savannah for the second straight year.

OF Travis Taijeron - [New to Org.]

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BRK NYP .299 56 194 24 58 13 5 9 44 108 22 64 0 0 .387 .557 .943

After contending for Division-II Player of the Year honors with Cal State Pomona the Mets 2011 18th round selection Travis Taijeron just kept right on hitting in pro ball. The Taijeron-asaurus Rex -- as I have been wont to call him -- crushed NYPL pitching with a ferocious display of power, leading the circuit in slugging and ISO (.258) while placing third overall in home runs. Not surprisingly, his big swing also results in a lot of strikeouts, so he'll have to improve that 28.5 K% if he's going to have success at the higher levels. Though he played some center this year he profiles as a corner guy; but based on his power alone he remains worth watching come 2012.

LHP Orlando Tovar - STOCK HOLDING

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BRK NYP 5 1 3.09 21 0 0 0 1 35.0 38 15 12 2 12 26 0.69 .281

6'3" lefties do not grow on trees, which is why I considered Tovar one to watch coming into 2011. And while he didn't exactly light the world on fire he certainly didn't disappoint either, posting a 3.66 FIP for the Cyclones. The problem is he doesn't throw very hard, as evidenced by his shrinking K-rate in 2011 (6.6/9). In addition, his 2010 ground ball trends took a turn for the worse and his .281 opponents average isn't pretty, especially when you consider that the 23-yr old is a little old for this league.

LHP Carlos Vazquez - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
OAX MEX 0 0 4.50 7 0 0 0 0 4.0 3 2 2 0 2 4 1.67 .214
BRK NYP 4 2 3.61 15 14 0 0 0 67.1 72 32 27 4 14 52 0.74 .276
Minors 4 2 3.66 22 14 0 0 0 71.1 75 34 29 4 16 56 0.77 .273

The until very recently teenaged no-name from Mexico was very solid in his 14 starts for the Cyclones. The diminutive lefty utilized excellent control and good pitchability to overmatch NYPL hitters all season long...now where have heard that one before? That's right, last season LHP Angel Cuan made a name for himself doing the very same thing. And Vazquez is following right in Cuan's footsteps, lacking the kind of stuff to legitimately profile as a major league starter but having enough success against minor leaguers to at least dream on a big league bullpen role. Vazquez did post a higher opponent's average with Brooklyn than Cuan did (.230) but he was also over a year younger at the time , so he's got that going for him.

More Names to Watch

After a forgettable pro debut with Kingsport, Mets 2010 22nd rounder SS Brandon Brown was a surprisingly potent source of offense for the Cyclones. The 24-yr old batted .303 and tied for second on the club with six homers while posting an .826 OPS, the highest mark for any SS in the NYPL...After a solid showing with Kingsport, 22-yr old OF Tillman Pugh made the most of his late-season appearance with the Cyclones. The highly athletic yet somewhat enigmatic outfielder continued to show off his good mix of tools, yet also displayed his rawness as evidenced by his 19:51 BB-to-K rate...Like Pugh, Mets 2009 seventh rounder OF Chase Greene is known more for his extreme athleticism than a polished approach. After beginning a third straight season in extended spring training, Greene was solid for Brooklyn, batting .256 with a homer and a few stolen bases and most impressively a 1:1 K-to-BB rate.

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