Dedicated Cyclones fans are not the only ones anxiously awaiting for the team to play in Brooklyn for the first time since September — manager Tom Gamboa is ready to get out of Florida, where the team has been in spring training.
“The humidity has been awful for three weeks,” Gamboa said. “It’s been miserable on the field. It wasn’t like this the last two years, so more than ever I can’t wait to get that ocean breeze at MCU Park. The cool night air is going to feel good.”
Last season, there was a lot of wind from all the swings and misses from Cyclones batters. The strikeouts piled up — as did the losses — in the team’s first losing year in history.
“I don’t even think about that,” Gamboa said. “It doesn’t enter my mind.”
Coaches and management look for consistency, but unfortunately last season’s offense was consistently inept.
“Other than Vinny Siena, we didn’t have anybody that hit anything the whole season,” Gamboa said. “When you have six guys hitting under .200, you’re not going to win. I wasn’t losing sleep over it.”
Even when Brooklyn was 14–5, Gamboa noted that all the games were low-scoring.
“I knew that if we don’t start hitting, this could turn the other way real fast,” he said. “I didn’t know I would be a prophet. No staff can get one, two, or three runs every night and think they’ll win.”
The Mets’ draft picks from the second through 10th rounds are all signed or committed to play this summer. Ali Sanchez, a Venezuelan catcher who most recently played with the Kingsport Mets, will be the No. 1 catcher. Peter Alonso, a power-hitting first baseman from the University of Florida, will play at first. The Mets used a second-round pick on the Gator, who has hit 12 homers this season.
Coastal Carolina’s Michael Paez will be at second base, although he played shortstop in college. The fourth-round pick hit 15 homers last season, second-most among shortstops in the nation. Paez will play at second because the team selected Arizona State shortstop Colby Woodmansee in the fifth round.
The outfield will have some familiar faces as Hengelbert Rojas, Enmanuel Zabala, and Desmond Lindsay return. Vicente Lupo and Raphael Ramirez are newcomers. Righty pitcher Bryce Beeler will get acclimated to Brooklyn after being assigned to the Cyclones from St. Lucie. There are also returners to the staff, including Nicco Blank, who will look to improve on his control and cut down on walks that caused some problems last season.
Fans heading to MCU Park can be excited for a first look at the new draftees — and hopefully some more offense.
“I know the scouting department is very happy with this draft,” Gamboa said.
The Cyclones open the season hosting the hated Staten Island Yankees at MCU Park [1904 Surf Ave. at W. Seventh Street in Coney Island, (718) 507–8599]. June 17 at 7 pm.