Peterson hopes to give slumping Cyclones a lift
Recently Signed Southpaw First-Rounder Arrives in Brooklyn Saturday
It was three short summers ago when the Brooklyn Cyclones found a July savior in first-round pick Michael Conforto.
The team, which had wallowed in the McNamara Division cellar during the early part of that season and was on a season-high eight-game losing streak, caught fire as soon as the then-21-year-old outfielder strolled through the clubhouse door on July 19, 2014.
Brooklyn tore its way through the rest of the summer, finishing in a deadlock for the New York-Penn League’s wild-card spot, only to lose out via a head-to-head tiebreaker.
Conforto, who earned a spot in his first Major League All-Star Game this week as a member of the parent-club New York Mets, finished his initial pro campaign here batting a blistering .331 with three homers, 19 RBIs and 30 runs scored in 30 games with the Baby Bums.
Now sitting at a NY-Penn-worst 6-16 in the McNamara Division cellar, the Cyclones can only hope that another first-round selection, left-handed hurler David Peterson, provides a similar boost to first-year manager Edgardo Alfonzo’s slumping club.
Peterson, who inked his first professional contract last Friday after the Mets took him 20th overall in last month’s MLB Draft, will get his first taste of Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon, when he meets the local media for the first time at Coney Island’s MCU Park.
The 6-foot-6 fire balling lefty has been likened to dominant southpaw aces Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner after going 11-4 with a 2.51 ERA and a school-record 140 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings this past season at the University of Oregon.
Peterson issued just 15 walks, and finished the regular season second in the nation in strikeouts and victories, while ranking fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.33) and seventh in strikeouts per nine innings.
Though he’s not an everyday player like Conforto, who came to Brooklyn out of Oregon State University that fabled summer, Peterson will at least inject a feeling of hope for a team that has failed in virtually every aspect of the game over its first 22 contests of the 76-game campaign.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play professional baseball,” Peterson said shortly after becoming a Met.
“It took three years of development,” he added “It was definitely huge for me to grow as a person and a player and I’m very excited.”
Peterson really caught the eyes of the Mets’ scouting department with a pair of dominant efforts for the Ducks during the spring. He fanned 20 batters during a two-hit shutout against Pac-12 rival Arizona State on April 28 six weeks after striking out 17 vs. Mississippi State.
Peterson was named a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball following his dominant year, and was a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy, honoring the top amateur player and college baseball’s best player respectively.
He earned first-team All-Pac-12 Conference honors and was also named a third-team All-American by Baseball America.
“He had just a tremendous year this year,” Mets Vice President of Amateur Scouting Tommy Tanous said of Peterson. “He’s one of those players, one of those pitchers that you feel like every time you see him pitch, he kept getting better.”
“I think he’s in a good spot,” Oregon pitching coach Jason Dietrich added. “He has a good idea of what needs to get done. He just needs to continue to grow, which he will.”
The Cyclones can use all the help they can get after suffering yet another gut-wrenching loss Wednesday night in Mahoning Valley.
Staked to an early 4-0 lead, thanks in large part to first baseman Jose Maria’s two-run double in the second inning and his RBI single in the third, the Baby Bums spit the bit down the stretch.
After starter Jake Simon held the Scrappers to a single run on three hits and a walk with three strikeouts over the first five innings, the Brooklyn bullpen imploded as Tri-City put up four runs over the final three frames en route to a 5-4, 10-inning triumph.
The Cyclones also displayed their penchant for leaving runners on base in the top of the 10th, wasting Franklin Correa’s leadoff triple in an inning where Reed Gamache was picked off of first base with the go-ahead run just 90 feet away from home plate.
The depressing defeat dropped Brooklyn 10 games below the .500 mark for the first time since the Baby Bums landed on Surf Avenue during the summer of 2001.
Peterson won’t be able to help the Cyclones wash away all their recent woes since he pitches just once every five or six days.
But he should at least provide an emotional boost to a ball club that has seen its season go off the rails much earlier than anyone could have anticipated.
His journey to the Majors officially begins on Coney Island Saturday night.
This, That and the Other Thing: After wrapping up their series in Mahoning Valley on Thursday night, the Cyclones will be back at MCU Park on Friday to open a six-game homestand with three games apiece against State College and arch rival Staten Island … On Monday, July 17, the Cyclones will host their annual NYPD Appreciation Night on Coney Island. As part of the evening, the Cyclones — in conjunction with the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — will raise funds for the family of Police Officer Miosotis Familia, who was recently killed in the line of duty. “Since our team first started here in Brooklyn back in 2001, we have annually held an NYPD Appreciation Night,” said Cyclones Vice President Steve Cohen. “In light of recent events, we felt that we should turn this annual event into a fundraiser for Officer Familia’s family as our way of showing them that they are not alone and that the people of Brooklyn and New York City are here to support them in any way possible.” Starting Thursday at 10 a.m., the Cyclones will be offering 500 field box tickets for $15, which will include a voucher for hot dog and French fries at Nathan’s, with all money raised donated to the Familia family.
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