Brooklyn Cyclones Roster Breakdown
Brooklyn is back! After winning the New York-Penn League wildcard last year, the Cyclones are back with a bunch of new faces this year looking to get back to the playoffs. Their season kicks off Monday against the same Staten Island Yankees team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year. Let’s take a look at their opening day roster for the 2012 season. First up the pitchers. There are nearly 20 of them so let’s try to highlight a few of the names to keep an eye on. First there’s Juan Urbina, the son of former major leaguer Ugueth turned 19 at the end of May and while his numbers over the first two years of his career don’t look good, the lefty has a world of potential. Dominican Luis Mateo gets his first taste of the states after striking out 80 in 63 inning in the Dominican Summer League last year. There are plenty of other pitchers that have come through the Dominican pipeline and will be spending the summer in Brooklyn in Luis Cessa, Rainy Lara, Ernesto Yanez, Gabriel Ynoa, Hansel Robles, Julian Hilario, and Darwin Frias. Pay close attention to Cessa, Robles and Ynoa, who is just 19 years old. Also making up a big chunk of the Cyclone’s pitching staff will be several college arms from this years draft such as Matt Koch (3rd round, Louisville), Brandon Welch (5th round, Palm Beach State CC), Paul Seward (10th round, San Diego), Matt Bowman (13th round, Princeton), and Tyler Vanderheiden (19th round, Samford). Pay close attention to Koch, who could be a fast rising reliever, and Welch, who has the highest upside of the group. The only high school pitcher from this year’s draft class that is heading straight to Brooklyn is 12th rounder Robert Whalen. Also in the mix will be lefty Jeremy Gould, who struck out 46 in 30 innings for Brooklyn last year, lefty John Mincone, who hails from long island, David Wynn, Richard Ruff, and Beck Wheeler. Playing catcher for the Cyclones will be Kevin Plawecki, Xorge Carrillo, Jeff Glenn, and Nelfi Zapata. Plawecki was the second player the Mets drafted this year and could be quick to get promoted if he gets off to a quick start and the Mets can find room in A-ball for him. Carrillo and Zapata spent last year with Brooklyn, both with mediocre results. Glenn had a nice year in Kingsport last year and could become someone to keep an eye on among short-season catchers. The Brooklyn infield will be loaded with talented middle infielders to keep an eye on. An important name to watch is Phillip Evans, last year’s 15th round pick who many scouts thought was among the top 100 most talented players in the draft and signed for well above slot. He should get the majority of the playing time at shortstop. The other primary shortstop will be Juan Carlos Gamboa, a tiny 21-year old listed at 5’7’’ and 152 pounds who hit .340/.435/.415 in the GCL last year and even made a brief appearance with Savannah at the end of the season. At second base expect to see Dominicans Yucarybert De La Cruz and Jorge Rivero, as well as this year’s 9th round pick Richie Rodriguez out of Eastern Kentucky and this year’s 38th round pick Jeff Reynolds out of Harvard. A few of those guys will see some time at third base along with Dimas Ponce, a 21-year old Panamanian and 2011 7th rounder Cole Frenzel, who has 3 hits in 22 at bats for Savannah this year. Frenzel will also see time at first base, a position he’ll share with Alexander Sanchez, who was held back by injuries last year but has plenty of potential. Last but not least is Brooklyn’s outfield, which will be highlighted by 2011’s first round pick Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo is years away from reaching the big leagues, but is already under a microscope. Another guy to watch in the Brooklyn outfield is Julio Concepcion, who has a big frame and some power potential. Flanking those guys in the outfield will be a couple of great athletes in Eudy Pina and Jonathan Clark, last year’s 17th round pick (1 round before Savannah all-star Travis Taijeron). Clark played in Brooklyn last year and appeared in 6 games for St. Lucie earlier this year. The fifth and final member of the Brooklyn outfield is 17th round pick Stefan Sabol, who was drafted as a catcher but is being moved to the outfield. Performance wise this Brooklyn team appears a little hard to predict. They have a few high-round college arms to help lead the way, but they will be reliant on a lot of international pitchers, some of whom have little or no experience pitching in the states, which makes them a little more unpredictable. Having Plawecki as the primary catcher should help out, as he is an experienced receiver and game-caller. As far as the bats go, while there is a lot of potential as far as producing and winning games in the NY-Penn League this year there is some uncertainty. Of course, history is on Brooklyn’s side in terms of winning and producing great individual seasons with Darrell Ceciliani winning the batting title in 2010 and Danny Muno winning the MVP last season. So, odds are the Cyclones will be an interesting team to watch this summer.