Kevin Long: 21st Century hitting guru

Kevin LongKevin Long has been the Mets batting coach since the 2015 season. Previously he had been the Yankee batting coach from 2007-2014. Long so far has been the kind of batting coach who can make good hitters even better. Some of his specialties include wringing more power from hitters, and helping left-handed batters improve against lefties.

As to power, the 2014 Mets team did not have much, the team SLG was .364. Long then arrived, and 2015 saw a bump up to .400, and the 2016 season saw a further rise to .417. Of course, there are plenty of other factors in the power increase besides the coach including the arrival of Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline in 2015.

There are some interesting individual cases to look at with respect to Long’s reign. Curtis Granderson had been signed by the Mets after the 2013 season. Previously he had played with the Yanks, where the batting coach had been Long, and where Granderson had been a feared power hitter. Granderson’s 2014 season with the Mets had been a disappointment, with a slash line of .227/.326/.388 with 20 homers. Then in 2015 after Long’s arrival with the Mets, the slash line looked much better with .259/.364/.457 with 26 round-trippers. In 2016 the results were .237/.335/.464 and 30 home runs. Note the SLG and home run totals increased every year, despite Granderson aging out of prime baseball production years.

Another example is Daniel Murphy. Murphy had been a good hitter prior to Long’s arrival, but mainly as a base hit machine, lots of singles and doubles, but not much in the way of homers. Long and Murphy worked together to change his swing to provide more power. It’s not always easy to get a veteran, especially a successful one, to revamp his swing, but Murphy was willing to give it a try.

Basically, Long had Murphy stand closer to the plate, lower his stance, tweak his hand positioning and use his legs more to pull and drive the ball. At first, the results were not good, Murphy had a slow start with an SLG of only .346 for April of 2015. Things began to improve as Murphy caught fire, for the last 50 games of the regular season his SLG soared to .533.

Then came the post-season where for the NLDS and NLCS Murphy had a combined slash line of .421/.436/1.026 and seven homers to lead the Mets into the World Series. Although his World Series stats were not impressive, Murphy had a tremendous batting year in 2016 with his new approach and finished second in the NL MVP voting, unfortunately wearing a Washington uniform. Murphy credits Long and assistant batting coach Pat Roessler for significant help in his make over into a slugger.

Other Mets who have have been influenced include Lucas Duda who in 2015 saw his batting against left-handers improve, Neil Walker, and even Yoenis Cespedes. Long did not change Cespedes’ swing, but rather emphasized pitch selectivity, using video to show Cespedes the futility of chasing the high hard one. Consequently, in 2016 Cespedes saw his OBP rise to .354 from .328 the previous year, and saw his strikeouts decline from 159 in 2015 to 108 in 2016.

There have been other hitting gurus in the past, notably Charlie Lau from the late ’60s into the 1980s. Times were different then, and Lau’s philosophy was different as well. Lau emphasized hitting down on the ball and going the opposite way on outside pitches. That approach worked then, one reason being that there were significantly more astroturf fields in those days, including Kansas City where Lau spent much of his time, being credited by George Brett for dramatic improvement. Hitting hard grounders on artificial turf can work very well especially when the fielders were not quite as agile as they are today. Long’s power approach is perhaps more appropriate for the current age where getting the ball in the air is the key to batting success.

There has been talk on these pages and elsewhere of extending the contracts of some of the Mets young starting pitchers. Maybe it’s time for the front office to think about extending the contract of our 21st century hitting guru?

Did Ty Kelly hurt his chances of making the Mets?

Ty KellyAt the beginning of spring training, Ty Kelly had a legitimate chance of making the Mets roster as either a fifth outfielder or third baseman.  A strong showing in camp could have made a strong case for him being with the team; instead, he opted to play for team Israel in the World Baseball Classic.  While the experience of playing in an international tournament may be a special and exciting experience a player on the fringe of making a major-league roster may have been better served by participating in a major-league camp.

As a rookie in 2016 Kelly hit .241 with one home run and seven RBI in 58 at bats.  While these are not stellar stats he still flashed some potential to produce as a part-time player.  The Mets entered the spring with a very crowded outfield, so the chances of him catching on there would be slim.  Third base, on the other hand, could have been a very real possibility to pick up some playing with the likely extended absence of David Wright.

In six games for Israel, Kelly had five hits in 24 at-bats with no home runs or RBI.  He had a .321 OBP, while a decent showing the time he missed from major league camp will be sorely missed. He will most likely start the season atTriple-AA hoping for a call-up.

While Kelly was off playing in the tournament another young Mets player fighting for a roster spot was in camp getting at-bats and making noise that player is Michael Conforto.  With the way, the roster shook out after the offseason, he was the odd man out.  Instead of pouting about likely starting the season in the minors, he worked out over the offseason and came into camp looking trimmer than last season.

He has hit his way into the conversation in a big way.  So far, this spring he has hit .356 with two home runs and four RBI in 45 at bats.  He has also been solid defensively and has flashed an accurate arm in the outfield.  He has all but secured a roster spot in the eyes of most Mets fans.  Though management could say he needs to play atTriple -A to get regular at-bats, he has proven he has nothing left to learn at that level.

The Mets should be able to give veterans enough days off to secure Conforto at least four starts a week in the outfield.  He has also been doing some work at first to give him another possible avenue to gain some at-bats.

While playing in the World Baseball Classic may seem like an enticing opportunity for young players, they are probably better off staying in camp and gaining more valuable experience.  It is better suited for veteran players, though I would prefer star players on the Mets to skip it altogether to avoid possible injuries.

Mets360 2017 projections: Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed

Last year, the suspension for Aroldis Chapman for his domestic violence case was handed out on March 1. Here it is March 21 and we’re still waiting for a decision to be announced on Jeurys Familia. You can say that the league didn’t want to take away from the World Baseball Classic but now that the Dominican Republic has been eliminated, there’s no reason to wait any longer. At the very least, let’s hope that the Commissioner’s office has notified the Mets’ brass and they know what the deal is.

Most of us have been operating under the assumption that Familia will get the same month-long suspension that Chapman did. Someone will have to get Saves while Familia is unable to go and the assumption is that Addison Reed, who was so good last year, will pick up the slack. So, here are our individual forecasts for both Familia and Reed:

Familia       Reed      
  IP ERA WHIP Saves IP ERA WHIP Saves
Dalton Allsion 62 2.57 1.175 40 78 3.28 1.245 15
Joe Barbieri 55.3 2.53 1.080 31 46 3.59 1.260 8
John Fo 55 2.35 1.150 40 80 2.25 0.950 8
Charlie Hangley 64 2.61 1.270 43 72 2.27 1.130 14
Brian Joura 65 2.71 1.222 35 77 2.50 1.120 10
Mike Koehler 60 2.45 1.200 37 80 2.15 1.100 12
Matt Netter 70 2.20 1.100 45 85 2.40 1.050 8
Jim O’Malley 65 2.86 1.180 35 85 2.80 1.100 9
Rob Rogan 53 2.85 1.250 34 76 3.25 1.200 12
Mike Ry 73.3 2.49 0.970 32 85 2.34 1.120 8
Chris Walendin 66 2.35 1.150 38 80 2.25 0.990 16

We all see Familia pitching quite well when he gets to the mound; there’s just a difference over how many Save opportunities he will receive. Joe sees him picking up 31 Saves this year while Matt has a projection of 45. In perhaps a bit of a surprise, four of our 11-person panel feel he’s going to crack 40 Saves again this season.

There’s more variance among our group when it comes to Reed. Most of us feel he’ll turn in another strong performance, with Mike K’s 2.15 ERA leading the charge for the optimists. Yet three guys feel his ERA will top three, with Joe’s 3.59 being the most bearish. This time last year that wouldn’t have seemed bearish at all. But since becoming a Met, Reed has a 1.84 ERA and a 0.957 WHIP in 93 IP.

Here are our official forecasts for both pitchers:

2017Closers

If the Mets get these performances from their top two relievers, the bullpen should be a strong point again. Here’s what the computer models project:

Familia       Reed      
  IP ERA WHIP Saves IP ERA WHIP Saves
Mets360 62.7 2.53 1.175 37 76.7 2.40 1.120 11
Steamer 65 3.17 1.260 38 65 3.61 1.200 2
ZiPS 76 2.96 1.200 47 69.3 3.12 1.110 9

Ours are the most optimistic with ERA. We also have the best WHIP but not by any obscene amount. And combining the two pitchers together, we are in the middle in Saves. The computers don’t realize a suspension is a strong possibility. Steamer has 40 Saves, we have 48 and ZiPS has 56.

Mets Minors: When trading Dominic Smith might be okay

Dominic SmithIf you are a fan of the Mets and follow the minor leagues you’ve heard the name Dominic Smith.  Smith is currently enshrined as the future of first base for the team and fans are looking forward to seeing him rake in Las Vegas for a season before he reaches Queens.  Yet, Smith might not be destined for Met greatness after all.

Earlier this week Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog.com mentioned that the Mets lined up well with both the Royals and White Sox on a potential mid-season deal.  The idea being that the Mets will have needs that these teams and the Mets will match well for what one another might need and have to offer.

The Kansas City Royals are heading towards a rebuilding movement and will likely be looking for prospect returns on players who are going to be gone in 2018 anyway.  Third baseman Mike Moustakas, first baseman Eric Hosmer and Center Fielder Lorenzo Cain are all good fits for the Mets in 2017 and change the Mets from World Series contenders to the World Series favorites.

The Chicago White Sox are in the midst of their own rebuild and can move on from third baseman Todd Frazier, relief pitcher David Robertson and first baseman Jose Abreu.  Adding two 30+ home run players and a late inning reliever would also give the Mets the edge on 98% of the competition.

Now, neither of these deals comes cheap and the only “bridge too far” is Amed Rosario.  So, what names could we expect to be included in one or the other of these packages?  Start your quest with Dominic Smith and Thomas Szapucki and consider adding three to four other names like Gavin Cecchini and Desmond Lindsay as well.  Yes, that’s a lot of talent to give up… it’s also a heck of a return and one we might be okay with… if we bring home a trophy.

 

 

Rafael Montero’s quest to relaunch his once promising career

Rafael MonteroOne of the surprises of Grapefruit League play is former top prospect Rafael Montero. After looking like a guy who should be released during the majority of the 2016 season, Montero has been having a rather successful Spring in his effort to make the club as a reliever. He has 17 Ks in 11.1 IP, for a surprising 13.5 K%. In the previous five years, there have been 58 Mets pitchers to amass at least 10 IP during a Grapefruit League season. The highest K% of those 58 is the 11.7 rate posted by Jeurys Familia. It’s safe to say that after last year’s debacle, Montero’s strikeouts have caught everyone off guard this Spring.

However, at this point, there are certain things we know about Montero and impressive strikeout numbers in March don’t change these.

1. His fastball is not overpowering and does not have enough movement.
2. Unlike other Mets pitchers, he has not learned the Warthen Slider and his breaking ball also does not have enough movement.
3. He doesn’t change speeds enough to keep people off his fastball.
4. His walk totals have been too high.

How did we get here? How did we go from top prospect to a guy who might make the Opening Day roster as the extra reliever if Familia is suspended to start the season? Unfortunately, the answer is not as cut and dried as the four issues defined above. Without the benefit of video analysis of his time climbing the minor league ladder, all we can do is speculate. But before getting to speculation, let’s spend a bit more time in the realm of the known.

The Mets’ Double-A affiliate has been in Binghamton for a long time. We can go back many years and compare Montero’s results in Double-A to other Mets pitchers. Going back to 2011, the year Matt Harvey pitched in Binghamton, and using a cutoff of 59.2 innings pitched – Harvey’s total – there have been 47 pitchers to reach our minimum. Montero’s 2.00 FIP in 2013 was the best mark of all of those pitchers. And by a wide margin. In second place was 2016 AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer with a 2.63 mark. In third place was Steven Matz.

Las Vegas is a relatively new home for the Mets, as it’s been their Triple-A affiliate for just four seasons. In that span, 35 pitchers have reached our innings cutoff. Montero has the best FIP here, too, with a 3.24 mark in 2013. Matz is in second place here. Montero also ranks fifth on the list with his 3.66 mark in 2014.

Montero pitched better in Double-A than all seven of the pitchers we anticipate getting starts for the Mets in 2017. He pitched better in Triple-A than the six guys who pitched in Las Vegas, as well as besting what Harvey did in Buffalo. It’s probably not a big surprise that the guy who had the best results in the minors did not have the best results in the majors. It has to be at least a little surprising that a guy who excelled at both Double-A and Triple-A seems a million miles away from being able to contribute at the major league level.

Montero made his MLB debut in 2014 and got hit hard. The main culprit was the gopher ball, as he allowed 5 HR in 20 IP in four May starts. He also allowed 11 BB in that span. Both totals were out of line with what Montero had done in the minors. He came back to the majors in August and split time starting and relieving. He got hit hard in his first start back. But in his final 19.1 IP, Montero did not allow a homer and he struck out 21 batters. He still had issues with walks but anyone who was watching could see vast improvement from his debut in May.

Montero had a good Spring in 2015 but the Mets ended up picking Dillon Gee to be the club’s fifth starter. It was a decision that didn’t work out for the Mets or either pitcher. Gee appeared in just eight games, was lit up like a Christmas tree and sent to the minors. He didn’t much care for that treatment, made his displeasure known and never pitched for the Mets again. Montero started the year in the bullpen, was sent to the minors, came back and made one start (allowed 1 BB and 0 HR in 5.2 IP) but was again demoted. Then he hurt his shoulder and hasn’t been a quality pitcher since.

The pie-in-the-sky alternate version of history has Montero as the club’s fifth starter in 2015 and he avoids the shoulder injury by not bouncing back and forth between starting and relieving and goes on to a successful MLB career. The reality is the club chose Gee, Montero never took to relieving and on top of it he got injured. And now it appears that if he’s ever going to be a quality pitcher, it will have to be in a different organization.

The Mets have had a tremendous track record here recently of turning pitchers into finished major league products. The hits have been many and the misses essentially boil down to Montero and Collin McHugh. They’ve shown much more patience with Montero than they did with McHugh, who they traded after just 11 appearances and four starts.

McHugh has recovered to have a strong MLB career but it took landing with the right organization, one which recognized his strengths, for him to blossom. He didn’t hit his stride with the Mets, nor the club they traded him to, the Rockies. It wasn’t until he landed with the Astros that McHugh took a giant leap forward. In Houston, McHugh turned to his slider and the results were dramatic. He went from throwing the pitch 13.1 percent of the time with the Mets in 2012 to 31.5 percent of the time with the Astros in 2014 when he won 11 games and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

Could Montero blossom with another organization? It’s hard to predict any pitcher who’s had limited success turning around and winning 19 games like McHugh did in 2015. But whatever scant chance there is of it happening, it’s roughly a million times more likely somewhere else than it is in Queens.

We’ve seen countless pitchers throughout the years flame out as starters, move to the bullpen and find success. Having only to pitch an inning or two at a time, the new reliever can simplify his offerings and quit trying to pace himself. The end result is scrapping unsuccessful pitches and focusing on one or two offerings, typically with an increased fastball velocity, too.

But the issue is that we haven’t seen any increase in velocity with Montero as a reliever. And he’s a guy who needs to throw pitches better, not shrink his offerings.

Montero needs to hear new voices and get with an organization that will allow him to pitch to all areas, not just trying to hit paint low and away with every pitch. It would be nice if he could add the Warthen Slider to his repertoire. But if it hasn’t happened by now, there’s little reason to expect it will.

On the 2017 Mets, Montero is the eighth starter and ninth reliever. It’s not where anyone would have imagined he’d wind up when he was rocketing up the ladder in the minors. And it’s hard to imagine it improving any here, either. While he’s had success this Spring, we still see more walks than we’d prefer. Montero simply doesn’t have the margin of error to succeed by allowing so many free passes.

It’s a rare case where Montero supporters and detractors agree. The best thing for all concerned is for Montero to never throw another pitch for the Mets again in a regular season game. He’s not going to blossom here and rather than watch him get treated like 2015 Gee, let him try to catch lightning in a bottle somewhere else.

Big Stein, Sweet Lou and Davey Added To Special HOF Ballot

georgeFive former big league players, three executives and two managers comprise the 10-name Today’s Game Era ballot to be reviewed and voted upon Dec. 5 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Md., the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced today.

George Steinbrenner, Lou Piniella, and Davey Johnson  join Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Mark McGwire, John Schuerholz and Bud Selig  as candidates that the Today’s Game Era Committee will consider for Hall of Fame election for the Class of 2017.

Baines, Belle, Clark, Hershiser and McGwire are included for the contributions as players. Schuerholz, Selig and Steinbrenner are included for their contributions off the field, and Johnson and Piniella are included for their work as managers. All candidates except for Steinbrenner are living. Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member Today’s Game Era Committee will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 30, 2017, along with any electees who emerge from the 2017 Baseball Writers’ Association of America election, to be announced on Jan. 18, 2017.

The Today’s Game Era was one of four Eras Committees identified in July when the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors announced changes to the Era Committee system, which provides an avenue for Hall of Fame consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons.

The 10 Today’s Game Era finalists were selected by the BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee from all eligible candidates among managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players whose most significant career impact was realized during the time period from 1988 through the present. Eligible candidates include: Players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, and have been retired for 15 or more seasons; and managers, umpires and executives with 10 or more years in baseball. All active executives age 70 or older may have their careers reviewed as part of the Era Committee balloting process, regardless of the position they hold in an organization, and regardless of whether their body of work has been completed.

The Today’s Game Era ballot was determined this fall by the Historical Overview Committee, comprised of 11 veteran historians: Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Jim Henneman (formerly Baltimore Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Bill Madden (formerly New York Daily News); Jack O’Connell (BBWAA); Jim Reeves (formerly Fort Worth Star-Telegram); Tracy Ringolsby (MLB.com); Glenn Schwarz (formerly San Francisco Chronicle); Dave van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); and Mark Whicker (Los Angeles News Group).

The 16-member Hall of Fame Board-appointed electorate charged with the review of the Today’s Game Era ballot will be announced later this fall. The Today’s Game Era electorate will meet to discuss and review the candidacies of the 10 finalists as part of Baseball’s Winter Meetings, Dec. 4-5 in the Washington, D.C. area.

The Today’s Game Era Committee will meet twice in a five-year period, with the next meeting scheduled for the fall of 2018.

The 10 candidates for Today’s Game Era consideration for the Class of 2017:

• Harold Baines played 22 seasons for the White Sox, Rangers, Athletics, Orioles and Indians, totaling 2,866 hits and 1,628 RBI, an RBI total exceeded by only 31 players in history. A six-time All-Star as an outfielder and DH, Baines was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1977 MLB Draft and was a two-time winner of the Designated Hitter of the Year Award, now named the Edgar Martinez Award.

• Albert Belle was a five-time All-Star outfielder and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner in his 12 MLB seasons for the Indians, White Sox and Orioles in a career cut short by a hip injury. He drove in 100-or-more runs nine times, including three seasons when he led the AL, and led the league in total bases three times. In 1995, Belle became the only player in MLB history to post at least 50 doubles and 50 home runs in the same season.

• Will Clark played 15 years for the Giants, Rangers, Orioles and Cardinals, winning two Silver Slugger Awards and a Gold Glove Award at first base. A six-time All-Star, Clark compiled a .303 batting average while driving in 100-or-more runs four times and finishing in the Top 10 of his league’s MVP voting four times. He was named the 1989 NLCS MVP after hitting .650 with two homers and eight RBI for the Giants against the Cubs.

• Orel Hershiser pitched 18 seasons for the Dodgers, Indians, Giants and Mets. A three-time All-Star, Hershiser won the 1988 National League Cy Young Award and pitched the Dodgers to the World Series title that fall. The owner of 204 regular season wins, Hershiser was 8-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 22 Postseason games, winning series MVP honors in the 1988 NLCS and World Series as well as the 1995 ALCS.

davey-johnsonDavey Johnson managed 17 seasons for the Mets, Orioles and Dodgers, posting 1,372 wins. His winning percentage ranks 12th all-time among managers with at least 10 years of service. A 13-year veteran player whose 42 home runs as a second baseman in 1973 still stands as the big league record, Johnson led the 1986 Mets to the World Series title and led his teams to the playoffs in five other seasons. He was named his league’s Manager of the Year in both 1997 and 2012.

• Mark McGwire played 16 seasons for the Athletics and Cardinals, electrifying the baseball world in 1998 when he hit 70 home runs to break the single-season record of 61 set in 1961 by Roger Maris. McGwire set a rookie record with 49 home runs during his AL Rookie of the Year season in 1987 and was named to 12 All-Star Games at first base. His career mark of one home run per 10.61 at-bats is the best in MLB history.

medialy-birthday-boy-lou-piniella-shares-a-classic-george-steinbrenner-storyLou Piniella managed 23 seasons for the Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Rays and Cubs, winning 1,835 games – good for 14th on the all-time list. Piniella skippered the Reds to the 1990 World Series title and led the 2001 Mariners to an American League record 116 victories. Piniella guided his clubs to seven Postseason appearances and was named Manager of the Year in his league three times (1995, 2001, 2008) following an 18-year playing career that saw him hit .291 and take home World Series rings with the 1977-78 Yankees.

• John Schuerholz laid the groundwork for the Royals 1985 World Series championship team as farm director and general manager, then moved to the Braves, where as general manager and later president he built a club that qualified for the Postseason in 14 straight years, advanced to five World Series and won the title in 1995. He was the first general manager to lead teams to World Series titles in both the American and National Leagues.

• Allan H. “Bud” Selig was Baseball’s ninth commissioner, serving as acting commissioner starting in 1992 before being named commissioner in 1998. Selig oversaw two rounds of expansion, the creation of Wild Card playoff teams and interleague play as well as the creation of the World Baseball Classic.

George Steinbrenner purchased the New York Yankees in 1973 and oversaw the team’s path to seven World Series titles before his passing in 2010. An early adopter in baseball’s free agency era of the 1970s, Steinbrenner’s Yankees compiled a winning percentage of .565 and totaled 11 American League pennants in his 37 full years as the team’s owner.

More information on the candidates is available by visiting www.baseballhall.org.

About the Era Committees

The Eras Committees consist of four different electorates: Today’s Game (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1988 to the present); Modern Baseball (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1970 to 1987); Golden Days (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball from 1950 to 1969); and Early Baseball (for candidates who made their most indelible contribution to baseball prior to 1950).

The Today’s Game and Modern Baseball eras will be considered twice each in a five-year period, with the Golden Days era considered once every five years and the Early Baseball era considered once every 10 years.

Eras considered for yearly induction over the next decade are as follows: 2017 – Today’s Game; 2018 – Modern Baseball; 2019 – Today’s Game; 2020 – Modern Baseball; 2021 – Both Golden Days and Early Baseball; 2022 – Today’s Game; 2023 – Modern Baseball; 2024 – Today’s Game; 2025 – Modern Baseball; 2026 – Golden Days. The Early Baseball era returns for induction consideration in 2031.

Both the ballot and electorate are created anew with each cycle for consideration.

Four separate electorates consider by era a single composite ballot of managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players. Candidates remain eligible in perpetuity through the Era Committee process, with new ballots constructed by the Historical Overview Committee the fall prior to each election.

Mets Trade Cyclones Pitcher Erik Manoah to the Angels

On the eve of the September call-up period in Major League Baseball, the New York Mets dealt minor league pitcher Erik Manoah to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for veteran reliever Fernando Salas.

Manoah, 20, was a 13th round draft pick of the Mets in 2014 and spent three seasons in the organization, going 9-10 with a 5.84 ERA in 35 appearances across two levels. Most recently, Manoah started 12 games with the Brooklyn Cyclones, pitching 62 innings with a 5-5 record and a 5.81 ERA. Manoah’s final outing with the Cyclones came on Tuesday against the Auburn Doubledays, where he allowed seven hits and three runs in relief of 2016 first round pick Justin Dunn. Manoah was initially slated to start the Cyclones’ home finale next Sunday against the Staten Island Yankees.

“I heard through the grapevine before our game tonight that our big league team (the Mets) were looking for another pitcher down the stretch to get into the playoffs,” Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa said. “Erik Manoah was the player traded to the Angels. He is in shock right now. There are two ways for a player to react to this. A player can take it as though the Mets are giving up on you or as I told Erik, I want to make sure he takes it from the sense that he was traded for a big league player and now a team can make him a big league prospect.”
Salas, 31, is a veteran of seven major league seasons and was a member of the 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. Salas spent the past three seasons with the Angels pitching in middle relief and appeared in 58 games this season for the club with 45 strikeouts in 56.1 innings and a 4.47 ERA. The acquisition of Salas enables the Mets to bolster their bullpen and have a viable bridge to late inning flame-throwers Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia. The Mets currently sit 1.5 games behind the Cardinals for second wild card spot in the National League.

To make room for Salas on the active roster, the Mets transferred outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the 60-day DL. Manoah is the first Cyclones player traded to the Angels since pitcher Gaither Bumgarner on July 2, 2015. The last player dealt from Brooklyn prior to Wednesday was former 3rd round pick Casey Meisner to the Oakland A’s for Tyler Clippard.

Jose Reyes Shines for Brooklyn in Rehab Return

Jose Reyes (Photo Credit: Mark Suleymanov/Scout.com)

BROOKLYN, NY – On June 26, 2016, over 7,800 fans witnessed one of the most highly anticipated games in Brooklyn Cyclones history as Jose Reyes made his return to the New York Mets organization with two games at MCU Park after signing a minor league contract. Recovering from a left oblique strain, Reyes began a second rehab stint in Brooklyn on Thursday, playing five innings at third base and went 0-for-1 with two walks, two steals, and a run scored in a 7-4 Cyclones victory over the Vermont Lake Monsters.

Unlike his 0-for-5 showing in his last stint in Brooklyn, his first game on Thursday evening began auspiciously for Reyes. Facing Oakland A’s prospect Dakota Chalmers, Reyes led off the Cyclones’ first inning with a walk and promptly stole second with a head-first slide and eventually was stranded at third when Brandon Brosher grounded out to end the inning.

“I feel more comfortable now in Brooklyn than I did the last time I was there (in late June). There is no pressure for me. I know the Mets are going through a tough time right now. I want to be there in the clubhouse for them. They have had a rough couple of games of late, and hopefully, I can be there soon,” Reyes said.
When Reyes came up to bat in the third inning, the script was unchanged from his first plate appearance. Reyes ran the count full to draw a walk, promptly stole second, and was 90 feet away from scoring when Gene Cone reached base on a bunt single. Reyes scored the game’s first run on Nick Sergakis‘s bases loaded walk. The Cyclones added run courtesy of a Blake Tiberi sacrifice to take a 2-0 lead. Reyes batted again in the fourth and flew out to leftfield on one pitch to close his evening.

“I felt good to be back out there tonight,” Reyes said. “At least I took two swings and was able to steal two bases with no problem. I feel good. There aren’t any complaints my first game. If everything goes well, the Mets will give me the call on Sunday.”

Mets’ first-round pick Justin Dunn took the mound for the Cyclones in his fourth start of the season and put together his finest effort. Featuring a fastball touching 97 miles per hour and an effective changeup, Dunn proved untouchable against the Lake Monsters’ hitting, tossing three no-hit innings while striking out six. Dunn lowered his ERA to a microscopic 0.50 and continued to impress in Brooklyn.

“He is similar to Dwight Gooden at the same age because they are both athletic and have loose easy deliveries. Some pitchers will throw 97 MPH, and it looks like the shoulder will fall out of his socket. Dunn is like Doc where the ball comes out of his arm very easily. He looks like he is just playing catch,” Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa said regarding Dunn.
With a batting average which ranks 159th out of the 160 MiLB teams at .214, entering Thursday’s play, the Cyclones have struggled mightily to get on base consistently, but on a night when control escaped Vermont pitching, reaching base was an easy task for the Cyclones, who set a franchise record with 12 base on balls. The patient approach paid dividends in the seventh inning when Hengelbert Rojas singled home Blake Tiberi and Jay Jabs, each of whom walked in front of him to take a three-run lead.

Brooklyn’s fourth consecutive victory came at a devastating price as prized first base prospect Peter Alonso will miss the remainder of the season after breaking his thumb in two places during the opening game of the series against Vermont. The team hoped the swelling would subside, but chose to shut him down as a precautionary measure.

Reyes will return to the Cyclones for the first two games of series against the West Virginia Black Bears on Friday and Saturday and will play both third base or shortstop, though the Mets have yet to determine which position he’ll play first as of press time.

Woodmansee, Alonso, and Gonzalez Earn NYPL All-Star Selection for Brooklyn

Harol Gonzalez (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Featuring a roster filled with high profile college draft picks, the Brooklyn Cyclones boast their fair share of stars and on Monday three of them were named to the New York Penn-League All-Star team with SS Colby Woodmansee, 1B Peter Alonso, and RHP Harol Gonzalez representing the Cyclones in Hudson Valley.

Colby Woodmansee (Robert M. Pimpsner)
Colby Woodmansee (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Woodmansee, a five-time scholar baller at Arizona State, quickly emerged as one of Brooklyn’s top hitters after being taken in the 6th round of the 2016 draft by the New York Mets. In his first 41 games, Woodmansee has a .283 batting average and a.741 OPS with 2 home runs and 21 RBI. Woodmansee recorded his first professional home run on July 4 against the Batavia Muckdogs.

“Making the All-Star team was something I expected to do and was one of my goals heading into the season. Many players go their entire minor league career and never get a chance to play in one. I texted my mom and dad when I found out and they were really excited for me,” Woodmansee said.

Pete Alonso (Robert M. Pimpsner)
Pete Alonso (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Alonso, a second-round pick by the Mets out of Florida, joined the Cyclones on July 9 and quickly became the club’s central power threat, leading them in five offensive categories, including batting average (.324), home runs (5), RBI (21), and slugging percentage (.590). On August 8 against the Tri-City ValleyCats, Alonso recorded a career-best, four hits in five at-bats and fell a triple short of the cycle in a 17-3 victory. Alonso has also played a flawless first base, going errorless in his first 18 pro games.

“It means a lot especially not getting as much time here in Brooklyn as some of the other guys. Me coming here late and being voted onto the team just means the world because I was able to make the most of my time here. I don’t want to settle for where I am and will myself into being the best player I can be,” Alonso said.

Gonzalez, signed by the Mets as an international free agent in 2013 out of the Dominican Republic became one of the most dominating starting pitchers in the New York-Penn League, going 4-1 with a 1.77 ERA in nine starts and drawing comparisons to a young Pedro Martinez by some scouts. Gonzalez’s 67 strikeouts in 56 innings lead the league and has held opposing batters to a .184 average, entering play on August 9.  Gonzalez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on two occasions this season, including a July 14 outing against the Lowell Spinners.

“Certainly, all of our other pitchers are watching Harol like a hawk. We have several other guys that throw harder than Harol, but it is obvious they are seeing a guy with impeccable control. He’s always got the hitter behind in the count. You can’t teach this, but Harol has what Greg Maddux and Brad Radke had where they can see a hitter take one swing and know what pitch to throw to keep a hitter off balance. He’s too good for this league,” Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa said.

Woodmansee, Alonso, and Gonzalez will play for the South All-Stars in Hudson Valley. The 12th annual New York-Penn League All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday, August 16 at Dutchess Stadium, the home of the Hudson Valley Renegades.

Woodmansee, Alonso, and Gonzalez Earn NYPL All-Star Selection for Brooklyn

Harol Gonzalez (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Featuring a roster filled with high profile college draft picks, the Brooklyn Cyclones boast their fair share of stars and on Monday three of them were named to the New York Penn-League All-Star team with SS Colby Woodmansee, 1B Peter Alonso, and RHP Harol Gonzalez representing the Cyclones in Hudson Valley.

Colby Woodmansee (Robert M. Pimpsner)
Colby Woodmansee (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Woodmansee, a five-time scholar baller at Arizona State, quickly emerged as one of Brooklyn’s top hitters after being taken in the 6th round of the 2016 draft by the New York Mets. In his first 41 games, Woodmansee has a .283 batting average and a.741 OPS with 2 home runs and 21 RBI. Woodmansee recorded his first professional home run on July 4 against the Batavia Muckdogs.

“Making the All-Star team was something I expected to do and was one of my goals heading into the season. Many players go their entire minor league career and never get a chance to play in one. I texted my mom and dad when I found out and they were really excited for me,” Woodmansee said.

Pete Alonso (Robert M. Pimpsner)
Pete Alonso (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Alonso, a second-round pick by the Mets out of Florida, joined the Cyclones on July 9 and quickly became the club’s central power threat, leading them in five offensive categories, including batting average (.324), home runs (5), RBI (21), and slugging percentage (.590). On August 8 against the Tri-City ValleyCats, Alonso recorded a career-best, four hits in five at-bats and fell a triple short of the cycle in a 17-3 victory. Alonso has also played a flawless first base, going errorless in his first 18 pro games.

“It means a lot especially not getting as much time here in Brooklyn as some of the other guys. Me coming here late and being voted onto the team just means the world because I was able to make the most of my time here. I don’t want to settle for where I am and will myself into being the best player I can be,” Alonso said.

Gonzalez, signed by the Mets as an international free agent in 2013 out of the Dominican Republic became one of the most dominating starting pitchers in the New York-Penn League, going 4-1 with a 1.77 ERA in nine starts and drawing comparisons to a young Pedro Martinez by some scouts. Gonzalez’s 67 strikeouts in 56 innings lead the league and has held opposing batters to a .184 average, entering play on August 9.  Gonzalez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on two occasions this season, including a July 14 outing against the Lowell Spinners.

“Certainly, all of our other pitchers are watching Harol like a hawk. We have several other guys that throw harder than Harol, but it is obvious they are seeing a guy with impeccable control. He’s always got the hitter behind in the count. You can’t teach this, but Harol has what Greg Maddux and Brad Radke had where they can see a hitter take one swing and know what pitch to throw to keep a hitter off balance. He’s too good for this league,” Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa said.

Woodmansee, Alonso, and Gonzalez will play for the South All-Stars in Hudson Valley. The 12th annual New York-Penn League All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday, August 16 at Dutchess Stadium, the home of the Hudson Valley Renegades.