Hot Hitting Ceciliani Spurs Brooklyn To First Place
Darrell Ceciliani knew he struggled in his first year of professional baseball in 2009. After being selected by the New York Mets in the fourth round of the MLB Draft from Columbia Basin Community College in Oregon, only hit .234 at Rookie Single A Kingsport.
Once spring training ended for the Mets this past April, Ceciliani devoted countless hours in the batting cage to rediscover his potent hitting stroke. Once he joined Brooklyn this season, the 20-year old Oregon native quickly established himself as not only the most consistent Cyclones playe, but is also making his mark by shattering the Brooklyn history books as well.
The centerfielder has been prolific at the plate, leading the New York Penn League with a .379 average, and also in games, hits, runs scored and total bases. His 9 triples so far not only lead the league, but easily broke the Cyclones record of 6 triples previously held by Dustin Martin in 2006.
“I put a little too much pressure on myself last year and now I kind of have gotten use to knowing what I m facing every night,” Ceciliani said. “I feel comfortable now.”
Ceciliani has done well hitting in the second spot of the batting order, and has been a catalyst for a well oiled offense. The Cyclones lead the league in team average with a .294 clip, and has meshed well with other top hitters such as Rylan Sandoval, Cory Vaughn and Jeff Flagg.
Their offense is one of the reasons why Brooklyn leads the McNamara Division and has the best record in the league with a 31-15 mark.
“It’s always good to get the offense going right away and let your pitchers know they have some support,” Ceciliani said,
Backman’s advice in spring training for Ceciliani was to use a compact swing to allow his quick bat to hit the ball to all parts of the fields. He also needed to use his speed, which Ceciliani has done with a team leading 16 stolen bases to get on base as a table setter for the heart of the Cyclones order.
“I had a great extended spring training talking with Wally and Benny. Who could be better talking to thanW ally for hitting in the two hole and better to pick his mind since he played 14 great years in the majors?” Ceciliani said.
Ceciliani is not just a prolific hitter, but is quite an accomplished centerfielder. He has been quite adept at chasing balls down in a sometimes tricky MCU Park outfield.
His opening day catch which helped Brooklyn win their home opener against Staten Island is still talked about by Cyclones fans. His full sprint dash ended in deep left centerfield when he his combination one knee slide and outstretched right glove saved two runs from scoring.
Despite the praise, and his good fortune at the plate, the youngest member of the Cyclones remains focused on getting his team to the postseason.
“I’m just going out every night and trying to get good wood on pitches,” Ceciliani said. “I’m trying to set high goals for myself and for the team. We don’t want to underachieve. We’re just trying to go out 120 percent every night.”
Cyclones Snap Losing Streak
Brooklyn has enjoyed an impressive start to the Penn League campaign this season. But when they showed a lackadaisical effort in back to back losses to Hudson Valley this week, manager Wally Backman made sure to address his concerns to the team as soon as possible.
Prior to Brooklyn’s 4-0 win over Batavia on Wednesday night, Backman had a quick chat and told his team to regain their focus and put together a solid effort.
Brooklyn did their job by plating two runs in the first inning off Batavia starter Justin Edwards. Yohan Almonte shook off an early start on the mound and pitched seven scoreless innings for the win.
“We’ve been flat the last few days. We had to pick things up. We had to make things happen,” Backman said.
“We’ve played really well and won a lot of ball games. We got a little lackadaisical the last few days and you just can’t put your glove and your shoes on and expect to win. You got to make it happen.” The Cyclones six game homestand continues tonight with a 7 p.m. game against Penn League Pinckney Div-ision leading Batavia.
Brooklyn will face the Connecticut Tigers for the first time in their history on Saturday night for a three game series. The Detroit Tigers affiliate moved last season from Oneonta, New York to Norwich, Connecticut.
The final game will be on Monday afternoon at 12 p.m.