Brooklyn Boro

Whole new ballgame for Cyclones

Brooklyn's minor league franchise jumps to High-A Class

March 11, 2021 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The Brooklyn Cyclones never got a chance to defend their 2019 New York-Penn League championship at MCU Park last summer due to the cancellation of the minor league season as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And now, the Baby Bums will never get that opportunity.

They’ll get an even better one.

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The New York Mets’ minor league franchise by the sea will actually climb up a level from Class A short-season to the newly formed High-A Classification after Major League Baseball decided to contract 42 minor league clubs and leave each team with only four affiliates.

The Cyclones, who led the now-defunct NY-Penn in attendance in each of their first 19 seasons of existence, will kick off their delayed 20th anniversary campaign on May 4 with the first of 120 regular-season games, half of which will be hosted on their sun-splashed field on Coney Island.

As a Class A short-season squad, the Cyclones only played 76 games per year, including 38 along Surf Avene.
Now, Cyclones fans will not only get to see future Mets as they move closer to their big league dreams, they’ll get to see them more often.

“We can’t wait for Minor League Baseball’s Opening Days in ballparks across the country,” said Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations.

And neither can Cyclones fans, who haven’t seen their Baby Bums in action since the summer of 2019, when they were dancing around the infield at MCU Park with former manager Edgardo Alfonzo after winning the NY-Penn crown for the first time since their inaugural campaign here in 2001.

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Like most things affected by COVID-19, the Baby Bums’ schedule will be vastly different than in years past.

They will open the year on a 12-game road trip through Asheville, North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina before kicking off the home portion of their schedule May 18 against Hudson Valley, which is now the Yankees’ High-A affiliate.

Each series during the 2021 season will be six games in order to reduce the amount of travel required for players and the coaching staff. And the league will have a universal day off every Monday.

“This schedule represents a big step forward for our player development system,” Sword added.

“Under this new alignment and format, travel will be significantly reduced for players and coaches, with an increase in off days. We hope that these new health and wellness improvements will help players in their path to the big leagues.”

Though they aren’t likely to be this tightly packed, Cyclones fans can begin returning to Coney Island’s MCU Park on May 18 for the Baby Bums’ home opener vs. Hudson Valley. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Cyclones

 

Brooklyn will be a member of the High-A East League’s Northern Division along with the Aberdeen IronBirds (Baltimore Orioles), Jersey Shore Blue Claws (Philadelphia Phillies), Wilmington Blue Rocks (Washington Nationals) and Hudson Valley.

The Southern Division will consist of the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays), Greensboro Grasshoppers (Pittsburgh Pirates), Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers), Rome Braves (Atlanta Braves), Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox) as well as Asheville and Greenville.

The Cyclones won’t only be changing classifications and scheduling. They also have a brand new coaching staff, spearheaded by former St. John’s University head coach and College Baseball Hall of Famer Ed Blankmeyer.

Originally hired to guide the Cyclones through 2020, Blankmeyer remained on board while adding hitting coach Nic Jackson, pitching coach Royce Ring, bench coach Mariano Duncan, athletic trainer Vanessa Weisbach and performance coach Ryan Orr.

Former St. John’s University coaching legend Ed Blankmeyer will be at the helm when the Cyclones kick off their 20th anniversary season. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Cyclones

Brooklyn fans shouldn’t be surprised to see some of their favorites from the 2019 squad back in our borough come May as a jump to High-A is customary for players who have already cut their teeth at the short-season level.

Neither the Cyclones nor MiLB has weighed in yet on how many fans would be permitted inside the 8,500-seat facility, but full season tickets for the 2021 season are available now.

Brooklyn baseball fanatics can reach the MCU Park box office by calling or texting 718-37-BKLYN.
Single game, group tickets and partial season plans will be available in the weeks ahead.


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