!Viva Zapata! The inside story of how a Cyclone hit a homer off a New York Yankee

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Nelfi Zapata’s Sunday night homer was a major deal for the minor-leaguer.

The 20-year-old Dominican catcher sent a changeup from Yankee hurler Phil Hughes smashing into the scoreboard in left field — his first homer of the year and something that his Cyclones teammates are still talking about.

The Yankee all-star made a rehab start with the Staten Island Yankees on Sunday — and dominated the punchless Clones, striking out seven in just 4-1/3 innings, keeping the minor leaguers off balance with a mix of breaking balls and a 93-mile-per-hour fastball.

But there’s one pitch he wants back — the fated off-speed delivery to Zapata, who told us that he was expecting a fastball.

But the catcher made a quick adjustment on the 1-0 pitch, which Hughes left out over the plate.

Zapata turned on it, cutting the Yankee lead in half and sending Hughes — who had just made his 61st pitch in what was supposed to be a 60-pitch outing — to the less-than-luxurious MCU Park showers.

Later, the veteran complemented the rookie.

“Both at-bats he was taking good swings, he seemed like a pretty good hitter,” Hughes told the Daily News.

Zapata’s homer kickstarted his teammates, who scored four runs in the next two innings and cruised to a 5–3 win.

Zapata was still feeling the buzz two days later.

“It feels great, hitting off a major leaguer,” he said during warm-ups before Wednesday’s home win against the Aberdeen Ironbirds.

To other Cyclones, it was no big thing.

“He really was like any other pitcher,” said Chase Green, who struck out in his lone plate appearance against Hughes.

When pressed, Green did acknowledge Hughes’s dominance.

“He had a fastball, sure, but his off-speed pitch was better than most guys [down in the minors] because he could get it over consistent­ly,” Green said.

Zapata is currently batting .250. Last year at Kingsport, he batted .247 with two homeruns and 20 RBIs.

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: