Coles’ Fast Start Sparks Brooklyn Cyclones
Coles’ Fast Start Sparks Brooklyn Cyclones
By Elio Velez
Last Sunday’s Mahoning Valley- Brooklyn Cyclones game at Keyspan Park was a wacky affair. In a 6-5 Mahoning Valley win, the game featured bad hops, monster home runs and the best defensive play of the year in the top of the third inning.
The Scrappers had Argenis Reyes on second base when Brian Finegan crushed Cyclones’ starting pitcher Ivan Maldonado’s next pitch to right center field. Centerfielder Corey Coles sprinted for the ball, leaped and stretched to his left to rob a double and a certain RBI.
"That was the best play I’ve seen him to do this entire year", Cyclones manager Tony Tijerina said.
The play was indicative of the hustle and aggressiveness that Coles has brought on the field. Those qualities have also appeared at the plate where he leads the team with a .351 batting average and a .541 slugging percentage. But it wasn’t always good times for the 22 year old.
It was about this time in 2003 that Corey Coles was patrolling the outfield for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was just drafted in the 5th round out of Louisiana Lafayette and the belief through the Mets organization was that Coles would stick around for the season.
The beginning of the season was not kind to Coles as he struggled mightily in the first 15 games of the season. Hitting .167 and only scoring 5 runs, the Mets had no choice but to send him down to the Kingsport, Tennessee Rookie A ball team.
According to Coles, the demotion was a wakeup call to reevaulate his approach.
"I was struggling to get a hit. I was trying to convert from being a #3 hitter in college and hitting homeruns and RBI’s to being a leadoff hitter", Coles said. "I was pressing".
Coles regained his hitting stroke at Kingsport and hit .333 for the rest of the season. It was Coles’ confidence and aggressiveness that pleased Cyclones manager Tony Tijerina during spring training in Port St. Lucie.
"He is a guy who needed confidence and reassurance from us (the organization) to succeed," Tijerina said. "We saw a player who has the tools to be a leadoff hitter."
"We pushed him to become aggressive and he stepped up the challenge", Tijerina said.
Burt Joins Cyclones
Jim Burt Jr., the Mets 19th round pick from the University of Miami (Florida), joined the Cyclones and played his first game last Wednesday. The Hurricanes won the College World Series in Burt’s freshman year in 2001.
Burt went 0-3 as the designated hitter in his first Cyclones appearance in an 11-3 loss to Hudson Valley last Wednesday. According to manager Tony Tijerina, Burt will split time with Tyler Davison at first base and designated hitter.
Burt’s father Jim was an all-pro nose tackle for the New York Giants and helped them win a Super Bowl championship in 1986. Burt was also a member of the 1989 San Francisco 49ers championship team.
Muniz Save Streak Over
Carlos Muniz’ streak of two years without blowing a save came to an end last Saturday against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. He gave up a two run homer to Teodoro Encarnacion to tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the ninth inning.
Muniz kept his composure and got Jose Cruz for the final out. The Cyclones’ Ambiorix Concepcion hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 9th to give Brooklyn a 4-3 win.
"I was trying to come inside with the pitch but it just didn’t get there," Muniz said. "It was a flat fastball that stayed over the plate".
Muniz has bitten with the injury bug the last few seasons. After saving 13 of 13 games, a thumb injury in August shelved Muniz for the rest of the season. In spring training, a hand injury led to his current rehab stint with the Cyclones in which he will not pitch in back to back games.
Muniz doesn’t feel down about the blown save and is awaiting the next opportunity to give the Cyclones the win. "Tomorrow will be a new day. The sun will be up and I got to forget about it. The most important thing is we won."
As of press time, the Cyclones are in a three-way tie for first place at 8-5 with the Aberdeen Ironbirds and Hudson Valley Renegades. The Cyclones will play Williamsport at home on July 3 at 6 p.m. and a special 12 p.m. start on July 4 before going on the road.
The top of the order for the Cyclones which include Corey Coles, Dante Brinkley and Derran Watts have been impressive in getting on base. Coles and Brinkley, who is hitting .348, are both in the top 10 in batting in the New York Penn League. Brinkley is tied with Watts in stolen bases with 5.
The Cyclones have continued to add players who were either called up or signed in the 2004 draft. With a crowded clubhouse, Brooklyn lightened the load by releasing pitcher Kris Regas and infielder Justin Wendt.
Sometime in the month of July, the Cyclones will officially pass the 1 million mark in attendance. The lucky fan that passes through the gate wins various prizes such as throwing out the first ball and has the chance to win a million dollars from Keyspan.