Labor Day Monday: Cyclones Eliminated

Short-Season A
@ Tri-City Valley Cats 3, Brooklyn Cyclones 1

cycloneslogoTri-City scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Christian Chivellli to eliminate the Cyclones from playoff contention. Aberdeen, who won on Monday, leads Brooklyn by 2.5 games with two games to play in the New York Penn League season.

The Cyclones collected just three hits, all singles.

In past years, the Mets have tried brought some of the more promising prospects from Kingsport to help Savannah at the end of the year while Brooklyn chased the playoffs, or earned a berth. With the Cyclones missing out this year, and Kingsport in the playoffs, the Mets might well choose to fortify the Savannah roster with some players from Brooklyn.

Obvious candidates include the three Cyclones’ leaders in OPS: SS Gavin Cecchini (.274/.320/.316), LF Jared King (.271/.373/.355), and 2B L.J. Mazzilli (.286/.334/.391). I doubt Mazzilli would displace Dilson Herrera, but perhaps the Mets would find a spot for him or King at DH or on the bench for a pinch-hitting assignment. Edit: As Nate pointed out in the comment section, on September 1, the Cyclones’ game notes claimed that 2013 third round pick Ivan Wilson was heading to the Brooklyn roster. It does not appear he has been added on any of the MiLB.com sites at this writing. Adding Wilson seems to make it more likely that King could join Savannah.

On the pitching side, Robert Gsellman, Akeel Morris and Miller Diaz have all been very good. It would be simple to fit the pitchers either into the bullpen or, in Gsellman’s case as the fourth starter, in game one or two of the championship series, if the Gnats get that far.

Brooklyn Sunday: Cyclones Slip A Game and a Half Out of First

SSA: Aberdeen Ironbirds 5, Brooklyn Cyclones 4

cycloneslogoAberdeen’s Conor Bierfeldt homered in the top of the 8th to tie the game at 1-1. Aberdeen then jumped reliever Paul Paez for four runs in the top of the ninth for a 5-1 lead. The Cyclones rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but stranded the tying run at first to fall 1.5 games out of first with three games to play in Tri-City. Aberdeen finishes with three at home versus Lowell. I believe ABerdeen now has a magic number of just two to clinch the McNamara Division title.

LF Jared King (.270/.373/.355 – 60 gms): 2-for-3, BB, K.

SSA: Friday & Saturday Cyclones Slip Out of First

Friday: @ Staten Island Yankees 9, Brooklyn Cyclones 3 
Saturday: Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 7, @ Brooklyn Cyclones 0 

 

Cecchini Cyclones HeadThe Ironbirds defeated the Cyclones Saturday to slip into first by one half game with four to play in the NYP season.

Saturday, Akeel Morris (5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR) was solid, but the bullpen (4 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) was not.

SS Gavin Cecchini  (pictured) was 1-for-4 on Friday and Saturday to finish August at .324/.378/.370 in 28 games.

Friday, Robert Gsellman (3-3, 2.06) picked a bad time for his worst start of the year: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.

Short-Season Sunday: Homers are Good.

SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 12, @ Vermont Lake Monsters 5 

King Cyclones HeadThe Cyclones hit four home runs, which is a pretty good way to win a baseball game at any level.

22-year-old Jared King (pictured), the Mets’ 5th round pick out of Kansas State this year popped his first professional homerun as part of a 3-for-6 game that took him to .261/.364/.348 overall in 53 games.

LJ Mazzilli, who will be 23 on September 6, popped his third of the year for Brooklyn in a 2-4 evening with a couple of walks to push his season line to .297/.347/.403. I would not be surprised in the slightest if the Mets followed the Danny Muno plan with Mazzilli and skipped him over Savannah straight to St. Lucie next year for his age 23 season.

Akeel Morris, who has been untouchable as a reliever was more wobbly as a starter: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. Amazin’ Avenue’s Jeff Paternostro had him 90-94 with a high 70s curveball that had “decent tilt, but can get sweepy.”

A string of relievers followed Morris, including this year’s 13th round pick, Kevin McGowan, who 92-94 with a slider at 83, according to Jeff. McGowan has not been particularly effective: 4.91 ERA, 24/7 K/BB ratio in 25.2 innings, but the velocity is interesting enough.

 

R (APP): @ Pulaski Mariners 15, Kingsport Mets 0  

Probably the less said about this game, in which Kingsport was outhit 13-1 the better.

Short-Season Wednesday: Dominic Smith Has Eight Game Hitting Streak

SSA: @ Staten Island Yankees 5, Brooklyn Cyclones 3 

Hitting streaks are funny things. After hitting safely in 16 straight games, SS Gavin Cecchini (.286/.318/.333 – 39 gms) has now taken the collar in three straight, going 0-for-4 with an RBI and a strikeout Wednesday. In 39 games this year, the 19-year-old has eight walks and 25 strikeouts. That’s just a walk rate of 5% after 8.2% a year ago. All young hitters work on approach and swing mechanics at the same time. Cecchinini, for all the baseball in his family, is no different.

 

R (GCL): GCL Marlins 10, @ GCL Mets 3 

1B Dominic Smith: 3-for-4, 2B.

The Mets’ first round pick in 2013 has hit .277/.371/.399 in his pro debut with nine doubles, three homeruns and 21 walks against 36 strikeouts in 43 games. He’s hit in eight straight games and 11 of his last 12 games and is up to .340/.386/.453 in 14 games in August. As a 1B only, it’s always going to be very heavily about the bat for Smith and this is a nice start with a 12% walk rate and a 20.5% strikeout rate.

Wait, wait, wait: Frank Francisco is pitching again. Wednesday: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR. It’s his third appearance this year for the GCL team, and his first since July 21.

Short-Season Tuesday: Flexen Flexes

R (APP): @ Kingsport Mets 1, Burlington Royals 0 

Flexen K-Mets HeadRHP Chris Flexen (7-1, 2.14) turned was the performance of the night in the short-season realm, if not the system as a whole: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K. After a couple of wobbly starts to begin the year, Flexen has been really strong in his last eight contests: 1.64 ERA in 55 innings with 47 strikeouts against nine walks. My preseason #32 prospect, I saw Flexen at his most raw, in his first professional start in 2012. His ranking will certainly rise this year.

Flexen told MiLB.com about his night:

“I felt really good today — a complete-game shutout, can’t complain there. The defense picked me up on all the plays, the offense put up enough.

“Everything was on, my command was very good. I was able to spot up pitches and mix it up well,” said Flexen, who throws four- and two-seam fastballs, a curveball at two different speeds and a changeup.”

The win moved Kingsport within a half game of first. The top two teams in each Appy League division make the playoffs, and the K-Mets hold a 1.5 game lead over Elizabethton for second with nine games to play.

 

R (GCL): GCL Mets 13, GCL Cardinals 10   (12 innings)

This one went 12 innings, but 1B Dom Smith did not, as Elvis Sanchez pinch-hit for the 2013 first-rounder in the seventh inning.

RF Wuilmer Becerra (.235/.347/.289 – 45 games), the outfielder who was part of the R.A. Dickey package was 3-for-6 with a homer, his first of the year.

On the mound, third round pick Casey Meisner put together one of his best outings as a professional: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. Meisner, a 6’7″ Texan, has now gone five innings or more in each of his last three starts.

 

SSA: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 2, Staten Island Yankees 0

This is creative: RHP Dario Alvarez: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 6 K. Alvarez is 24 in the New York Penn League. Those are the most salient facts.

Monday in Short-Season Ball: Cecchini’s Hit Streak Ends

SSA: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 3, Staten Island Yankees 2 (7 innings)
Staten Island Yankees 5, @ Brooklyn Cyclones 2 (7 innings)

 

SS Gavin Cecchini’s 16-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-3 in game one, leaving him one shy of Lucas Duda’s Cyclones’ team record. It amuses me for some reason that Duda holds this record. Duda hit safely in 17 straight games as a 21-year-old in 2007, while Cecchini hit safely in 16 straight as a 19-year-old.

Hard-throwing RHP Akeel Morris got his first start of the year in game one, and it went swimmingly: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 3 BB, 5 K. He now owns a 0.47 ERA and 52 strikeouts agains 17 walks and 23 hits in 38.1 IP in Brooklyn this year. Morris, out of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, is essentially learning to pitch as a professional. His strikeout rate of 34% shows he’s learned well.

 

R (APP): @ Kingsport Mets 6, Burlington Royals 5

SS Amed Rosario, who’s all of 17 years old, was 1-for-4 with a triple Thursday. He’s hitting .249/.281/.378 with 14 extra-base hits, nine walks and 38 K in 48 games in his first exposure to professional baseball. That’s just fine. He is years, and years away at best.

I got a question about whether 22 year-old utility-man Yeixon Ruiz, who’s 22, can become a “legit” prospect. He’s played nine games at second, 16 games at third, 9 at short and 8 in the outfield, some leftfield and some center while hitting .318/.375/.364 in 43 games. He runs well, and he’s a decent enough athlete – that’s the good stuff. The bad: he’s 22 in the Appalachian League, beating up on younger opponents. That’s pretty much the end of the story, as far as I’m concerned. He’ll be 23 next year before he gets a shot at a full-season team. So, the answer is no: generally big leaguers are not 22 while repeating the Appalachian League.

The guys that matter most to me among position players in Kingsport are Rosario, and Champ Stuart. Stuart, the 20-year-old sixth round draftee has hit .220/.380/.322 in 34 games this year, dragged down by a slow August (.156/.235/.200 in 12 games). He’s an impressive athlete in centerfield as a plus runner with a plus arm.

 

R (GCL): GCL Cardinals 7, @ GCL Mets 1 

Mets’ second-round pick Andrew Church went five innings or longer for his third straight start, that’s the good stuff. The less good: he gave up 12 hits and six runs. He’s now allowed 23 runs on 41 hits for a 6.43 ERA in 28 innings in the GCL.

Short Season Sunday: Cecchini Extends Hitting Streak to 16

Cecchini Cyclones HeadSunday, SS Gavin Cecchini was 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. In his streak, he is hitting .409/.437/.470. Cecchini needs one more game to tie Lucas Duda for the Cyclones’ record at 17 straight games. Overall, the 19-year-old is hitting .309/.342/.360 in 35 games, which would be good enough for sixth in the NYP if he had enough PA to qualify for the batting title. If the first round pick in 2012, plays more or less everyday for the next three weeks, he should have no problem qualifying. Fun fact: the last 15-game hitting streak in Cyclones history belonged to Ike Davis in late June/early July 2008.

LF Jared King, the Mets’ fifth round pick in 2013 was 3-for-3 with a walk Sunday in his third game back from the DL. He’s hit .268/.367/.350 overall with 25 walks against 37 strikeouts in 45 games.

Robert Gsellman continued his domination of the NYP: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. When I saw him in Savannah in May, after a great performance for the Gnats, after an outing in which the 20-year-old threw 62 fastballs, 25 changeups and two curveballs, I wrote,

His fastball was 89-92 on Thursday. He has size (6’4″), poise, and feel for his fastball and changeup. All the same, his fastball is no better than average now, and his breaking ball is rudimentary.

It is certainly an uncommon profile when you mix his age and repertoire together. I want to see something else (more fastball velo, or more likely a more consistent breaking ball) before anointing him a big-time prospect, but he certainly has my full attention.

Brooklyn Saturday: Cecchini Goes to 15 in a Row

SSA: Vermont Lake Monsters 1, @ Brooklyn Cyclones 0 

Cecchini Cyclones HeadSS Gavin Cecchini was 4-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 15 straight games. In that time he has hit .419/.439/.484 (26-for-62) with four doubles, three walks, and eight strikeouts. Sure, that’s a lot of singles, but it’s a lot of singles. The 19-year-old is now up to .311/.340/.364 in 34 games for the Cyclones this year in a NYP that averages .244/.318/.345 with an average age of 21.1.

The last teenager to hit .300 and play 30+ games in Brooklyn: Alhaji Turay in 2002, who hit .327/.380/.484 in 40 contests.

Miller Diaz (4-3, 2.54) threw well in defeat: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K.