BK Cyclones Update
By Elio Velez
The baseball season is over in the tri-state area with the Yankees falling to the Angels. As the N.Y. Mets’ season ended with the doldrums of a lost season, the organization looks toward their minor leagues for the next hopefuls to make the big club next year or in the future.
Brooklyn finished their short Single A Penn Season at 38-38 and finished fourth in the McNamara Division. The champions of the Penn League were the Staten Island Yankees as they defeated Oneonta 2-0 in the finals. Though the season ended on a down note with a 9 game losing streak before it was broken in the next to last game and falling out of playoff contention, there were players that stood out for the Cyclones and were accordingly rewarded.
IF/OF Blake Whealy was the only Cyclone to be named to the 2002 PennLeague All-Star Team. The 5-11, 175 pd. Whealy played many postions, which proved valuable and also carried the team for a couple of weeks with his bat. He led the Cyclones with a .289 average, 10 HR, 34 RBI, hits and doubles. Whealy played LF, 2B and 3B.
The Mets signed righthand pitcher Kevin Deaton as a free agent this year. He quickly proved that he was the ace of the staff by going 7-1 with a team leading 93 strikeouts. For his efforts, Deaton was named the Most Valuable Player for the Cyclones in a ceremony at Shea Stadium on September 22 before the Mets game vs. the Expos. He is the only pitcher throughout the Mets’ minor leagues to win the award.
Two former Cyclones were awarded MVP’s on that day. David Matttox was named Pitcher of the Year for the Mets. Mattox pitched for the Cyclones in 2001 and won the first game of the championship series against Williamsport before the series was canceled due to the events of Sept. 11.
On the fast track throughout the minors is catcher Justin Huber, who was named co-MVP at Capital City. Huber joined the Cyclones in 2001 for the pennant stretch run and was quickly promoted. Huber hit .291 with 11 HR and 78 RBI in 95 games.
Outfielder John Toner was the Most Improved Player for the Cyclones in 2002. The 6’3 215 pound outfielder sparingly played in 2001 but with increased playing time, Toner became a consistent hitter in the lineup and a good defensive outfielder. Toner finished at .286 for the year and only committed 3 errors on defense.
How Toner improved this season: "I played on a regular basis which has helped me tremendously. Being able to go out there everyday and play and show the organization that I can play."
Howard Johnson’s first year of managing was successful even as he had to handle injuries, new players and internal struggles with players such as Alhaji Turay, who was suspended for disciplinary reasons in August. Johnson may be promoted next year to manage a higher Single A ballclub such as Edgar Alfonzo, who managed the Cyclones in 2001.
Second year pitching coach Bob Ojeda worked wonders with helping the pitchers. Though the pitching struggled at the end of the year, Ojeda has done enough of a good job to be promoted.
First year hitting coach Donovan Mitchell had an easy rapport with the young hitters and preached patience as the Cyclones struggled early in the season. By midseason, the offense was clicking but injuries to Ender Chavez, Jonathan Slack and others took its toll on the offense. Mitchell served as the Mets’ Assistant to the Driector of Minor League Operations in 2001.
The Cyclones have finished their fall instruction in Florida and some will play in winterball, train or take it easy after a grueling season.
Outfielder Ender Chavez- "I tried to help the team win and the coaches worked everyday in helping me in batting practice and fielding." Chavez will play winterball in Venezuela.
Pitcher Scott Kazmir- "It’s unbelievable. The (Brooklyn) fans get behind you and they make you feel at home. I’ll work out and improve my conditioning back home (Houston, TX)."
Outfielder John Toner- "I’ll be going to winter league instruction and then move out to Arizona to stay in shape and come back and earn a spot again."
Pitcher Kevin Deaton- "I’ve learned how to pitch instead of just throwing." Bobby (Ojeda) told me a lot of stuff about pitching and not just throwing."
Deaton talked about his offseason plans: "I’m going to spend time with my wife (Lindsay) an my baby (Chloe Alexis) and try to take it easy and get in shape and go to winter instructs."