2008-06-20 / Sports

First Round Pick Wants To Make Impact For Brooklyn Cyclones

By Elio Velez

Pedro P. Martinez starts on opening day for Brooklyn. Photos by Peter Borriello. Pedro P. Martinez starts on opening day for Brooklyn. Photos by Peter Borriello. Opening Day at Keyspan Park in June has become as traditional in Coney Island as the legendary Cyclone rollercoaster.

On a cool and comfortable night on Tuesday, 8,240 people passed through the turnstiles at the ballpark by the Atlantic Ocean to watch the young Brooklyn Cyclones take the field and defeat their rival Staten Island Yankees, 3-1.

Edgar Alfonzo, who guided the Cyclones to a 49-25 record in 2007 and was named the Penn League Manager of the Year, returns for his third season at the held. Pitching coach Hector Berrios and hitting coach Guadulupe Jabalera also returns.

The Cyclones opening day roster is a mishmash of high school, college and free agent players from all over the world who arrive to play in the New York Penn League's short season Single A.

The roster includes Pedro P. Martinez, who is no relation to the New York Mets soon to be Hall of Famer by the same name and Brandon Kawal and Will Vogl, returnees from the 2007 McNamara Division title winning team.

Reese Havens signs an autograph for a fan at Keyspan Park last Tuesday. Reese Havens signs an autograph for a fan at Keyspan Park last Tuesday. But the focus this season has been the Mets recent draft philosophy towards choosing players from the college ranks to make an immediate impact.

The Mets' first round draft picks, infielder Reese Havens from the University of South Carolina, is one of many top picks from the college ranks to be on the Cyclones opening day roster. Havens was selected this year as the 22nd pick of the Major League Baseball Draft.

6-4 right-handed pitcher Brad Holt from UNCWilmington, a 33rd overall pick in the supplemental round will start on Saturday for Brooklyn.

First baseman Ike Davis, who was the Mets top pick in this year's draft out of Arizona State hasn't been signed yet. He is the son of former major league pitcher Ron Davis.

Described as a gamer by Alfonzo for his hustle and dedication, Havens was a top hitter at South Carolina where he started all 63 games in the Gamecocks' season and batted .359 with 18 home runs and 43 RBI.

Instead of starting at shortstop for the Cyclones, Havens will be sitting on the bench and recovering from a strained right shoulder, which occurred days before he reported to Brooklyn.

"It's bad at the same time, there's nothing you really can't do anything about it," Havens said.

"I haven't' missed a game in three years when I was in college. I'm always healthy. I never had arm troubles and it's frustrating."

Alfonzo is impressed by Havens' determination to get on the field even though he had to gently turn down the 21 year old's request to play.

"He'll be out five to six days and we need to be patient and careful with him. He came into my office today and wanted to play. He's a gamer. I'm impressed with that."

Notes: Edgar Alfonzo knows how to win in his third season as manager of the Cyclones. With 106 wins in his first two years, a share of the Penn League title in 2001, the Mets believe that Alfonzo has the credentials to lead the team to yet another playoff appearance.

The Cyclones lost to Auburn in the Penn League Championship Series last September.

"It's special. Back to back years. It's exciting. I'm nervous a little bit because its opening day and I hope everything turns out the right way for us," Alfonzo said.

Alfonzo, who has said the offense might be the most impressive aspect of this year's team, will turn to Zach Lutz to power the offense.

His brief spell as a Cyclone last year lasted less than a game when the 2007 fifth round pick broke his foot after just two at bats. Season ending surgery pushed Lutz' development as the Mets returned him back to Brooklyn for last Tuesday's home opener.

Lutz knocked in a RBI double in the Cyclones 3-1 win. In the Staten Island Yankee's home opener on Wednesday night, the former Division III Player of the Year raked in two more RBI doubles in a 9-4 Cyclones win. Lutz batted third on Opening Night and is expected to be a fixture in the middle of the order due to his outstanding plate discipline and ability to hit the ball to all fields.

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