2007-07-27 / Sports

Cyclones Coach Likes What He Sees in Closer Duo

By Patrick Hickey Jr.

Learning to tame aggressive minor league pitchers with electric stuff was tough enough for Kevin Costner in "Bull Durham," but this year, Cyclones pitching coach Hector Berrios has things covered.

Focusing most of his time on the development of Brooklyn's new closer duo of Dan McDonald and Stephen Clyne, Berrios loves what he sees from the two this season. He also sees even bigger things in the future if they continue to work hard.

"These guys both have plus fastballs and plus sliders," said Berrios. "If they learn how to pitch with that fastball and use that slider as an out pitch, they're going to be tough to deal with."

With both McDonald and Cheney dominating on the mound, showing flashes of brilliance throughout the season, Berrios is pretty proud of his handiwork.

"They've been executing all of the things we want them to do on a regular basis," said Berrios. "We have programs in place here that all the guys have to follow, just a bunch of little things that they've really taken to and as you can see, the results are there. They speak for themselves."

However, despite how stellar the two have been this season, Berrios does believe that the two have some things to work on before they can say "goodbye" to the NY-Penn League and "hello" to the big leagues.

Berrios has an understanding of the burden of having a plethora of talent at your finger tips and wanting to unleash it on the opposition every time out.

Berrios, a former minor league pitcher in his own right, knows that his star pupils need to take each outing one pitch at a time if they're ever going to be successful in Brooklyn or anywhere else.

"We've had to slow them down a bit because it feels like the game speeds up when they're in there; they want to do too much," said Berrios.

"We've been focusing on getting them to realize that every pitch they throw is the one they have to make and not try to make 20 pitches with one throw. Once they start to slow things down there, then all of the other things start to come into play and they realize they don't have to do everything all at once."

Feeling confident that both McDonald and Clyne will blossom into two of the better pitching prospects in the organization, Berrios believes they're in a class of their own and if they continue to work hard, we'll be seeing them in a big league box score in the years to come.

"I think this is the best group of arms we've had in the four years that I've been here," said Berrios. "Sure, we've had the Bannister's and the Muniz's here, but those guys are not at the same level of arm strength these guys are at. If you take that kind of power and teach them a little bit of finesse on the mound, you have a double-edged sword. You have both things working and as a group, it's working to perfection."

With McDonald and Clyne being so successful this season and the Cyclones pitching staff once again pacing the league in wins and ERA, it would be easy for Berrios to bask in the fruits of his labor. However, showing the moxie and fortitude of an accomplished coach, Berrios just treats the progress of his two star closers as business as usual, feeling that the mantra of the Mets organization is more responsible for the success of the young pitching prospects he coaches, than he is.

"I just take the Rick Peterson program and the organizational philosophies and put them into place as soon as they get here," said Berrios. "I make sure that they're focused and concentrated in everything that they do before they get on the mound and you see it when they get on the field. It rewards them for all of the hard work they put in."

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