Brooklyn Cyclones Are Ready For 2003 Season
Spring in New York City did not arrive with all of the rain and terrible weather that occurred. And on June 14, the skies did clear for the Cyclones to practice and get to know one another just before the season began.
For the Cyclones, the short season Class A affiliate of the New York Mets, the 2003 NY Penn League season brings another wave of fresh young faces and a return of a familiar face to the Cyclones dugout.
Former New York Mets second baseman player Tim Teufel will manage the 2003 version. Teufel will be replacing last year’s manager Howard Johnson, who is now the hitting coach at Port St. Lucie. Teufel has been a minor league roving hitting instructor with the Mets the past two seasons. Roger LaFrancois takes over as hitting coach and Hector Berrios takes over as pitching coach for Bobby Ojeda. Ojeda has moved on to Double A- Binghamton as their pitching coach.
Cyclones Media Relations Manager Dave Campanero says that Teufel has quickly acclimated himself to the team. "He’s fantastic. He is along the same line as HoJo and Bobby (Ojeda) of guys who have seen and done it all. It’s someone like him who will teach the guys and they may not realize yet how lucky they will be to have him.
Teufel wants to bring his own style of managing this team and his experiences with coaching young players throughout the organization have prepared him for this year. "It’s a great place to begin a career managing. We (Hojo) have our different styles. All I’m emphasizing is to play hard and instill a go get ‘em type atmosphere on the field and in the clubhouse."
"This is a developmental league. The fans understand this is a rookie league but they expect a good and hard brand of baseball. We can stress that attitude to our players."
Some of these kids have never lived up in the big city but shortstop Travis Garcia is one player who is familiar with the Big Apple. The 21-year-old Bronx native was drafted by the Mets from Iona College in this year’s draft and knows what reaction to expect from a sellout New York crowd.
Garcia is a Yankee fan and counts Derek Jeter as one of his idols but is glad to be with the Mets. "I was raised by my father, who played all of his life so I’ve been in cleats and with a glove since I was in four."
Garcia, who won the CHSAA championship with Mt. St. Michael High School in the Bronx in 2000, got his first experience watching a game in KeySpan Park before practice. Garcia knows how 8,000 fans will react. "I watched the Tottenville-Monroe (PSAL A baseball) championship game and I was excited that 200-300 people were here."
The Cyclones organization has been excited with season and game tickets for the third year almost sold out except for 200 bleacher tickets that are sold before a game. The response by Brooklyn and neighboring communities such as Rockaway has been oustanding according to Campanero. "It’s been great. It builds every year with stuff we do in the season and the offseason with promotions, library, hospital visits and other things. We’re so glad to have this continued response."
The Cyclones have started their season and will play their first game against Staten Island at home on June 23. The Cyclones games can be listened to on the Internet with Warner Fusselle and Reggie Armstrong at www.brooklyncyclones.com. The Cyclones have not reached an over the air radio deal.
The big names of 2002 for the Cyclones have moved up in the Mets’ minor league chain in 2003. The players have had varying levels of success and disappointment but there have been a few who continued to blossom after departing Brooklyn.
Pitcher Kevin Deaton, who was named the Cyclones 2002 MVP, continues to shine at Higher A Capital City. Deaton, who went 7-1 in 2002, was named to the 44th Annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game. Deaton has gone 6-2 with the Bombers and second in strikeouts only to…
…Scott Kazmir, who continues to dazzle hitters at Capital City. Scouts have been raving at Kazmir’s ability to strikeout hitters. The 19 year old, who was drafted in the first round has struck out 65 batters in only 43 innings.
Pitcher Miguel Pinango continues the strong pitching in the Mets farm system with a repeat of his 2002 performance. Pinango, who showed promise but struggled, is now 8-0 at Capital City with a 2.58 E.R.A. 2002 NY Penn League All-Star Blake Whealy has only .243 but leads the team with 10 HRs and 35 RBI. OF Alhaji Turay has 5 tool potential but was asked to leave in August of 2002 after disciplinary problems forced the Cyclones to send him home. Turay is now playing at Capital City.