Cyclones Stick to Developmental Plan in Loss

Things didn't go the Cyclones way this week, however losing to Tri-City Friday night should not be of any major disappointment to Cyclones fans. The minor league level, especially short-season A ball, is all about development. Sure winning along the way is nice, however that comes second to the development of players.

The Cyclones did the classic thing, and the correct think on Friday night. They could have thrown Evan MacLane on the mound on just three days of rest, however went with their fourth starter Joe Williams instead, something Tri-City did not do. The Valley Cats started Ronnie Martinez on three days of rest after throwing 93 pitches on Monday night in Game 1 of the series.

The Cyclones have been accused in the past of stocking their team in order to win games, however they won games this season and did it the right way along the way. The majority of the Cyclones regulars this season came from extended Spring Training and out of the 2004 Draft. Only a handful of players were sent down from Capital City (A), however all three position players who were regularly in the starting lineup in Dante Brinkley, Tyler Davidson and Derran Watts hit below .235, so being sent down a level was nothing you can argue with. Evan MacLane who was 5-2 with a 2.39 ERA was the only Cyclone sent down from Capital City who was performing well.

No matter what the situation is you do not throw a minor league pitcher on three days rest, especially after having thrown 93 pitches three days before. Tommy John surgery for pitchers has become like peanut butter and jelly, everybody has them. The misuse of pitchers in the minor league level has been the major reason Tommy John surgery has been needed on so many pitchers in recent years.

In the 2004 season the highest number of pitchers any Cyclones starter threw was 92. The highest number any starter from the opposing team threw was 105.

"We have a strict organization pitch count and I firmly agree with that, especially in this level" said Tijerina.

On Monday I asked Evan MacLane if he would be willing to come back on three days rest in the playoffs. His response?

"Oh I definitely would say yes if they ask me, however I am almost certain they will not."

Credit should and needs to be extended to Ronnie Martinez. He threw eight innings while striking out ten and allowing five hits. He did his job on the mound, however Valley Cats manager Greg Langbehn and his coaching staff did not fulfill their responsibilities correctly.

A three run second inning by home runs by Mitch Einertson and Lou Santangelo virtually ended the Cyclones season Friday night. Joe Williams gave up three runs in his five innings of work suffering the loss. Gaby Hernandez the Mets third round pick in this years draft came in relief and gave up five hits and three runs in his 1.2 innings of work. The young 18 year old from Florida retired the first two batters he faced and struck out the third, however advanced to first on a wild pitch. That appeared to bother the youngster as he was never the same from that moment.

Nevertheless, the Cyclones season was a success. Development was seen all around KeySpan Park in more ways than one. Dante Brinkley developed on the field and off the field by setting the example for the Cyclones and making sure each and every player is kept lost and is playing relaxed.

"If someone was trying to press or freak out, I would go over to them and crack a joke or something" said Brinkley. "That is my job, and you can't play baseball successfully if you are freaking out and pressing."

Michael Devaney went from the league leader in walks, to finishing the season in the top 3 in ERA. Devaney allowed 23 walks in his first 8 starts, however allowed just 6 in his final 6 starts. Devaney went 5-0 in the month of August with a 1.46 ERA.

"Michael is the pure definition of development" Tijerina said. "It is just amazing the turnaround he made."

Ambiorix Concepcion established himself as one of the best Cyclones ever batting .305 with 8 home runs and 46 runs batted in.

"I enjoy playing the game and I work very hard at it" said Concepcion. "I play hard for my family because it makes them proud to see me playing baseball."

Eddy Camacho, who went undrafted in this years draft finished the season with 1.10 ERA in 41 innings. Camacho allowed just 23 hits and 11 walks while striking out 39.

Mike Swindell and Joe Williams made a solid impressive in their first professional season. Swindell went 4-1 with a 2.69 ERA while Williams went 5-4 with a 2.28 ERA.

Scott Hyde the Mets 7th round pick in this years draft used this season to get accustomed to minor league baseball.

"Scott clearly has the best stuff out of anyone on this staff" pitching coach Hector Berrios said.

Hyde spent the season making mechanical adjustments, something he said he would rather do now than later in his professional career.

"They are just working with me on having a longer stride to home plate" Hyde said. "I have a big body so they are trying to have my release point closer to home plate, think Randy Johnson."

Catcher Aaron Hathaway showed one of the best arms behind home plate picking off eight base runners while throwing out over 50% of potential base stealers.

Kevin Rios was a player who rarely got credit, especially because of his low batting average at the plate. Rios however was a sure handed short stop for the Cyclones and his defense gave these pitchers an extra comfort knowing plays would be made behind them.

Despite the loss the die hard Cyclones fans appreciated the hard fought season these players gave the Cyclones. Whether it was Derran Watts "Bunt Home run" when he scored on a bunt after a wild throw allowed the ball to trickle down to the right field wall or a walk off single by Ambiorix Concepcion or Jim Burt the fans enjoyed every moment of it.

"I think that this 2004 Cyclones team is one to be very proud of. They played with heart and earned every single victory (with no ringers I might add), and were a great bunch of guys" read one post on the biggest Cyclones message board on YAHOO Groups.

Frankie Bones another die hard Cyclones fan acknowledged these young players just minutes after the season ending loss.

"I hope they enjoyed Brooklyn as much as we enjoyed having them" Frankie said of the players. "Most seemed to be good people. The pitching staff was incredible, led by "cool hand MacLane."

"MacLane, Kevin Rios and Edgar Alfonzo treated my six year old son very well, and they will never be forgotten."

John Kraft a retired military veteran living out west has traveled to virtually every minor league ball park around the country and is another one of the many die hard Cyclones fans.

"I was happy to make the trip from the High Mojave Desert to be at two home games this season. I was happy to make the trip to Troy on Tuesday the 7th of September as well. Even though Brooklyn lost that game in a heart-thumping, bottom of the ninth finish by Tri-City" Kraft said.

"Both excursions put me in contact with some really wonderful people as I reveled in being able to see a Brooklyn team on a ball field after four decades of absence in the game."

Bill Puresely a season ticket holder was listening to the game over the radio and was present for Wednesday's game that was called off during the third inning.

"We had that game won, and they were beat" he said. "Winning is secondary in this level and what the Tri-City manager did proves he wanted to win more than anything. Well give Tri-City the win and exchange one Tommy John surgery pitcher for one healthy pitcher in four years."

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