Cyclones' Brown has that 'sinking' feeling

Eric Brown was struggling this season with the Hagerstown Suns. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound right-handed pitcher had been hit pretty hard in his stint in Hagerstown, going 3-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 20 games.

Since returning to Brooklyn, however, Brown has arguably become the best pitcher on the Cyclones this season.

Selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2005 draft out of Wingate (N.C.) University, Brown was assigned to Brooklyn last year. He bypassed his senior year at Wingate to sign with the Mets, having led the South Atlantic Conference in strikeouts with 111 in 95 innings.

After being used as a reliever as spot starter and long reliever in Hagerstown, Brown has established himself in the Cyclones starting rotation, currently posting a 4-1 record with a 1.51 ERA. His only loss came in a 1-0 blanking of the Cyclones.

Brown has exhibited fantastic control, only walking three batters in 41.2 innings pitched. Brown's performance in Brooklyn led him to this year's New York-Penn League All-Star game, pitching an inning of scoreless relief.

"It's a pretty big honor," said Brown. "I started off the year on a bad note in Hagerstown. I came to (Brooklyn) and I started doing well. It's good for me and my confidence. It's just a big honor to be selected to go play with the best players in the league."

The dramatic turnaround of Brown's season has been the development of his two-seam sinking fastball. Brown is a four pitch pitcher, with a fastball, curveball, change-up and a good slider, but it is the development of his two-seamer has opened the eyes of the Cyclones and the higher ups of the Met organization.

"I go to (the two-seam fastball) whenever I need a ground ball or big double play," said the Hamlet, N.C. native. "I just keep throwing it and get guys to hit it on the ground."

In Brown's last start with the Cyclones, Brown faced 29 batters and forced 14 ground ball outs in a 4-1 win over Lowell. For the season, Brown has recorded 71 ground ball outs. His strikeouts have been also been on the rise, striking out six in his last start and 26 on the season overall for the Cyclones.

Brown attributes his success to his pitching coaches both from Brooklyn and from Hagerstown.

"Shawn Barton at Hagerstown and Hector (Berrios) here, they've done a lot with me," said Brown. "Working on mechanics and a lot more beat to the sinker, the two-seam fastball (was) probably the key to my success."

With fellow All-Stars Jake Ruckle and Jeremy Mizell, along with Tobi Stoner, the Cyclones have a dominating pitching staff with Brown as the anchor. It's been a group effort, Brown said.

"We've got five guys trying to do the job," said Brown. "We kind of just feed off each other, Ruckle and Stoner and (Nelson) Portillo. Everybody's been pitching well, you can't really say there's an ace, everybody's been pitching the same every time out."

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