2008-08-08 / Sports

Cyclones' Abruzzo Happy To Spark Brooklyn Turnaround

By Elio Velez

When Jordan Abruzzo arrived at Keyspan Park with his suitcase and catching gear in tow last month, the 24- year old arrived at a place that needed him.

When taking a look at the McNamara Division standings of the New York Penn League a month ago, it was hard for any Brooklyn Cyclones fan to look at their team reside in an unusual place.

For a franchise that hasn't had a losing season in eight years, the Cyclones' position in last place for a few weeks was startling to say the least.

With injuries and inconsistency the key problems to the 2008 season, Abruzzo arrived in time to help propel the Cyclones with some pop in the middle of the lineup and leadership.

Abruzzo has been one of the stars who have propelled the Cyclones as of late. Winners of 12 of their last 17 ballgames, they have improved their record as of presstime to 25-23, and only three games out of the first place Staten Island Yankees.

The 6-2, 230 pound Abruzzo arrived in Brooklyn with success already written on his resume with a .300 average in two stops this year at in higher Single A Savannah and Port St. Lucie.

Even though it is a demotion, Abruzzo is happy to return to Brooklyn after an injury plagued 2007 season with the Cyclones.

In an important three-game sweep at Vermont on July 29-31, the Cyclones came back from deficits in the eighth inning in each game to win. Those are games that can make a team believe say Abruzzo.

"I was telling the guys that when you look back after the season that those are the games that can turn around your season. That gives you confidence to compete with the Yankees," Abruzzo said.

"It's big for us because we haven't been getting it in the past as long as I've been here."

Injuries have plagued young stars Zach Lutz, and first round pick Reese Havens for most of the season. The infusion of Abruzo, a second Cyclone stint from J.R. Voyles and newcomer Jose Jimenez has stabilized manager Edgar Alfonzo's batting order.

In 24 games with Brooklyn, Abruzzo is hitting .264 with 3 home runs and 9 RBI. And though not gigantic numbers, the strong and physically imposing catcher from El Cajon, California is a veteran presence in a young lineup.

While Aburzzo plays close to every day at the DH or catcher spot, a future position for the Californian may also be first base.

He's been tinkering with the idea and it's another way for him to stand out and be noticed when the Mets evaluate his skills. Another position on the diamond Abruzzo can play on the field may help him climb the farm system and one day get to the new Citi Field.

"In Savannah, I was taking a lot of ground balls at first base. I didn't play there but I wanted to broaden my ability out there and get on the field," Abruzzo said.

"You never know. I've worked at it and as long as I can keep playing in any position and I can play every day, it's worth it to do so."

Notes

Jason Jacobs, a former NYPL All-Star catcher and first baseman in 2006 and 2007 with the Cyclones, returned to Brooklyn for a week to help out the struggling offense.

Mostly starting at designated hitter, Jacobs' third spell with the team only lasted four games. He was returned to Single A Port St. Lucie following the Cyclones' 9-4 loss to the Staten Island Yankees last Monday night.

"It's one of the most fun places to play in minor league baseball because winning is the most important here," Jacobs said.

"I've seen improvement in this team and I'm looking forward to seeing these guys take it home.

Jacobs packed his bags in the empty Brooklyn clubhouse believing he will do much better after receiving some hitting tutorials. The University of Georgia product batted .223 at Port St. Lucie.

"My swing was not the same as it was last year at all. Coming here I talked to 'Fonzie' (Edgar Alfonzo) and Jabalera (hitting coach Guadalupe Jabalera). They know me better than the guys at Port St Lucie I never really got into the rhythm that I got to have here."

Former 'Clones Land At Shea

Five former Cyclones has brought their youthfulness and changed the landscape of the New York Mets. 2007 first round pick Eddie Kunz recently joined the Mets after briefly pitching for the Cyclones last September on their way to clinching the McNamara Division.

Nick Evans didn't make much of an impact in 2005 with the Cyclones but has improved enough to earn a chance to platoon in the Mets' outfield with Dan Murphy. Arguably the most complete hitting prospect in the system, Murphy played eight games with the Cyclones in 2006. Relief pitchers Carlos Muniz and RHP Joe Smith, were stars in the Cyclones' bullpen.

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