Cyclones trio ready for All-Star Game

The New York-Penn League has never hosted an All-Star game until now. Tuesday, for the first time ever, the best of the best will take the field at KeySpan Park for the league's first annual All-Star game.

Three Cyclones - pitcher Bobby Parnell, outfielder Joe Holden and third baseman Josh Petersen - are among the selections.

Petersen, who was so excited about playing in Brooklyn this year after an average season at Kingsport in 2004, has put up All-Star caliber numbers (three home runs, 22 runs batted in, 13 doubles, and a .286 batting average) this season.

Unfortunately, Petersen will not be able to play in the game. He is currently on the disabled list with a sore lower back and is probably going to be sent back to the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla. following the game.

"I wish I could be out there," said Petersen. "I'm just glad I got picked since I didn't really see it coming."

Petersen, who was 0-for-5 in his last Cyclones game on August 15th, is still struggling with the fact he hasn't been able to play for over a week and might not play again this season.

"It's hard coming out to watch the games. You want to go out there and play so badly," he says. "It's going to be even worse for the All-Star Game."

Even though he is injured, Petersen's name will be called as the National League team is announced, along with Parnell and Holden.

Parnell, whose college struggles have been well-documented, is probably the most deserving of the All-Star nod. Not only has he become a whole new pitcher while pitching in Brooklyn, he has also been one of the best in the league.

"Parnell is one of the top five pitchers in the league," Holden says, with conviction.

In fact, Parnell, with his 1.76 ERA, has been the second-best starter in the New York-Penn League. He has baffled hitters all season by striking out almost a batter an inning, fanning 53 in 56-1/3 innings pitched. Even with these fantastic numbers, the always-humble Parnell manages to put his selection into perspective.

"It's an honor to get selected," said Parnell. "There are a whole bunch of guys in the New-York-Penn League who didn't and I am definitely not going to take things for granted."

Parnell is expected to pitch one inning during the game and says it will be just like a normal bullpen session, so there is no reason to worry about extra strain on his arm.

As amazing as Parnell has been this season, Holden is probably the biggest story of the game. Growing up about forty minutes away from KeySpan Park in Wantagh, Long Island, the scrappy fan favorite plans on having many of his family and friends in attendance.

"I am probably going to have 25 friends and family in the stands," says Holden. "It should be exciting."

Amazingly, Holden was not even able to crack the starting lineup regularly until the middle of July. But after going 4-for-4 in the leadoff spot in a 9-3 loss to the Williamsport Crosscutters on July 14th, he cemented his spot at the top of the order.

Reflecting on his season, Holden says, "It was a little frustrating at the beginning, but I did a lot of hard work in the cages. I guess it paid off."

Absolutely: Holden has hit .316 on the season and reached base at a healthy .379 clip in 171 at-bats this season. Hitting mostly out of the leadoff spot, Holden has been a spark plug with his bat and his legs, recording sixteen stolen bases in twenty attempts.

Parnell also applauds Holden for his range in the outfield. "He has played great defense behind me and the other pitchers," says Parnell.

While happy that the team has three players playing, Parnell also feels that Brooklyn deserves more representation for the game. "There are several good players on this team and I think we got short-changed on the number of selections."

Other all-star possibilities included pitchers Jeff Landing and Waner Mateo, and left fielder/designated hitter Caleb Stewart. Landing and Mateo both have ERAs in the twos (2.61 and 2.77, respectively) and have both won four games.

Stewart, playing on bad hamstrings all season, has been a hitting force, leading the team with 9 home runs, 34 runs batted in, and 17 doubles. Unfortunately, his .261 average and lack of range in the outfield eventually did him in during the selection process.

While it is obvious that many more Cyclones could have been deserving of All-Star bids, for the three who actually were selected, playing — or in Petersen's case, watching - an All-Star game in their home stadium will probably be the thrill of a lifetime and the next step in promising baseball careers.

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