Medina striving in second stint with Cyclones
Showing greater promise, power and production this summer
Jose Miguel Medina hasn’t taken long to surpass his performance from a summer ago on Coney Island.
The Cyclones’ hot-hitting right fielder showed off his improved power and production at the plate Wednesday night at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy, N.Y., blasting the resurgent Baby Bums to an 11-5 rout of the Tri-City ValleyCats in front of 4,964 fans.
Medina, who batted .262 with a homer and 20 RBIs with a .659 OPS (on-base-plus slugging average) in 63 games a year ago, is on pace to shatter those marks, if he remains with the Mets’ Class A short-season club for the duration of this 76-game campaign.
Through only 26 games played in 2018, Medina, a 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, is hitting .283 with three homers and 19 RBIs, boosting his OPS to a much more impressive .839.
He is only one double shy of the 11 he smacked in stints at three levels a season ago and has scored 18 runs for Brooklyn this year, only two less than his total in 63 contests here in 2017.
Medina showed off his improved power stroke with a three-run homer in the fourth inning Wednesday and added a solo shot in the eighth for Brooklyn (18-14), which has won six of its last seven games after enduring a funk that saw it drop six of its previous seven contests.
A spring training invitee with the parent club back in March, Medina has been at the forefront of Brooklyn’s recent surge, driving in 11 runs over his last 10 games while scoring eight times.
Medina’s second homer traveled an estimated 404 feet over the left-field fence as he showed off his ability to pull the ball with his right-handed swing, but perhaps more impressive was the opposite-field shot to right he launched in the eighth.
Displaying power to all fields is something Major League scouts look for in a young, budding outfielder, and Medina is doubtlessly looking to get more lift on his balls as the summer progresses. Thus far, he only has one homer at MCU Park, a two-run shot off Aberdeen here on July 6.
But hitting through the wind coming off the ocean has been challenging for most sluggers beginning their ascent to the big leagues on Surf Avenue.
Prior to this season, Medina’s career high in homers was four, established during his first campaign at Rookie-level Kingsport in 2016.
Medina also has six steals and a triple to go with his gaudy early season stats as he continues to develop the tools that will make him a factor in the Mets’ organization going forward.
Cyclones starter Christian James (2-0) benefitted from Medina’s offensive output Wednesday night, picking up his second win of the summer after yielding three runs — two earned — on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts over six solid innings.
The Mets’ 14th-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft was handed a 3-0 lead going to the bottom of the first inning, compliments of a sacrifice fly from Chase Chambers and a two-run single off the bat off Anthony Dirocie.
But James struggled in his opening frame, giving up three runs of his own following the first three batters he faced, capped by a three-run homer from Tri-City’s Alex McKenna.
To his credit, James found his groove soon after, surrendering just two hits the rest of the way and finishing up strong by fanning the final two batters he faced to match his longest outing of the year.
James lowered his season ERA to 2.52 through seven starts and figures to get the ball again next week when the Cyclones visit Mahoning Valley following their upcoming three-game weekend series at MCU against the Lowell Spinners.
This, That and the Other Thing: Dirocie finished 2-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs Wednesday night while Brooklyn’s own Manny Rodriguez added a pair of hits and two runs scored for the Baby Bums … The Cyclones continued their penchant for early scoring against the ValleyCats, putting up runs in the opening frame for the fourth time in their past five outings. Brooklyn has also registered double-digit hit totals in five of its past seven contests.
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In other local pro sports news, the New York Islanders continued to fill out their coaching staff during the Lou Lamoriello era as the team’s new president and general manager brought on John Gruden as an assistant Wednesday.
No relation to the NFL coaching family, Gruden, 48, was head coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs the past two years and captured the circuit’s championship last season after his team went 43-18-4-3.
The Isles also inked defenseman Ryan Pulock to a two-year deal earlier in the week, insuring that their top goal-scoring blue liner would be back in the fold as the franchise moves forward from the loss of two-time Hart Trophy finalist and team captain John Tavares.
Pulock, 23, set career highs with 10 goals and 22 assists last season, but was part of a defensive unit that surrendered the most goals and most shots on goal in the entire NHL.
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