Coming into the 2019 season, the Brooklyn Cyclones had a championship to their name, but it came with an asterisk. In their inaugural season, the Cyclones were dominant, going 54-22 and making to the playoffs in their first year of existence. The team led the league in batting average, home runs, and ERA, demonstrating the potent mix of offense and pitching that manager Edgar Alfonzo had at his disposal. In the semifinals, Brooklyn faced off against their cross-boro rivals, the Staten Island Yankees. In an exciting series that went all three games, Brooklyn triumphed, setting up a championship series between them and the Williamsport Crosscutters. On September 10, the Cyclones won the first game of the series 7-4, giving Brooklyn the potential to win the New York-Penn League championship at home, at Keyspan Park. They would end up not getting that opportunity, as the league cancelled the rest of the series following the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Brooklyn and Williamsport were declared co-champions and that was that.
The Cyclones would return to the playoffs more than a few times, making it to the finals in 2003, 2007, and 2010, but fell short every time. That is, until the 2019 season, when they beat the Lowell Spinners and won the New York-Penn League championship for themselves, casting aside the asterisk that hung like a cloud above the highly successful franchise.
In addition to the success that the Cyclones had as a team, a pair of players had performances that put them into the Brooklyn Cyclones record book.
Drafted in the 36th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, expectations weren’t particularly high for Garrison Bryant coming into the season. While he was offered $100,000 to forgo his commitment to New Mexico Military Institute- a relatively large sum for a prep player drafted so late- the right-hander had yet to really make his mark on baseball prior to this past season. Immediately after being drafted, the 17-year-old was assigned to the GCL Mets for a few token innings. He spent the next two years with the Kingsport Mets, and numbers were not particularly great either year, though he did improve in virtually every pitching category in 2018 as compared to 2017.
He made an early season appearance with the Columbia Fireflies in April, giving up four runs in 1.2 innings in the seventh and eighth in what was already a blowout and then returned to extended spring training until his debut with the Cyclones in June. He was solid-if-remarkable in his debut, giving up a run in 4.1 innings, allowing two hits, walking one, and striking out seven. With the exception of a single clunker, that is more or less what Bryant gave Brooklyn for the first month of the season.
From mid-July until the season ended, Bryant went on a run that helped propel the Cyclones into the NYPL playoffs. He tossed 52.1 innings in total, posting a 1.20 ERA, allowing 29 hits, walking five, and striking out forty-eight. For the year, he ended up posting a 2.39 ERA in 75.1 innings, allowing 49 hits, walking 14, and striking out 75. After sitting out the NYPL semi-finals, Edgardo Alfonzo penciled Bryant in to start game one of the NYPL championship series against the Lowell Spinners. In his lone playoff appearance, the right-hander tossed six shutout innings, allowing a hit, walking three, and striking out one.
Bryant is far from overpowering pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the high-80s-to-low-90s, but hitters had trouble hitting it and his breaking balls, a circle change and a slurvy slider. While by no means the sole reason for his success, MCU Park helped Bryant immensely, as opposing batters hit just .159/.194/.187 off of him. Coney Island’s stadium is extremely difficult for left-handers to hit in, as the Atlantic winds blow in from right field, and left-handers hit .160/.189/.226 against him, as opposed to right-handers, who hit .194/.258/.291. The Atlantic winds helped keep the ball in the stadium, as he posted a miniscule 0.36 HR/9 rate and had a 3.9 HR/FB%.
On the other side of the plate, Joe Genord slugged more homers than any other Cyclone in nearly a decade.
After lettering for three years at Park Vista High School at Lake Worth, Florida, Joe Genord had to decide between attending college or becoming a professional, as the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 19th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, 582nd overall. He ultimately decided on going to school, electing to honor his commitment to the University of South Florida. In his four years with the Bulls, he hit .291/.382/.528 in 204 games, leading the team in batting average, doubles, home runs in both his junior and senior years. With their ninth-round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Mets selected Genord and the two sides agreed to a $10,000, well below the assigned slot value of $154,600. He was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones and hit .204/.273/.389 in 64 games.
As one would expect, power is his carrying tool. He has middle-of-the-order raw power capable of carrying for a team when he gets hot and goes on a tear. His hit tool is unfortunately below average, as he takes mighty hacks in virtually every at-bat with a long swing full of uppercut, leading to plenty of swings-and-misses. He does not have a particularly refined eye and has gotten by on pitchers nibbling and not wanting to directly challenge his power; more advanced pitchers may be more confident attacking him directly.