A beautiful day and a wonderful crowd for our first #SundayFunday of the season! #LGC pic.twitter.com/IvYD1lZbj8
— Brooklyn Cyclones (@BKCyclones) June 25, 2017
The Brooklyn Cyclones’ emphasis on stealing bases has been hampered by a sputtering offense.
Edgardo Alfonzo isn’t mincing words when he states that he wants his team to steal more bases this season.
Alfonzo, 43, is in his first season as the manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones, the New York Mets’ single-A short-season affiliate. Once a member of the big-league club, he was never known to be much of a base-stealing threat (his career-high is eleven). That said, he still recognizes the importance of being aggressive on the basepaths.
“Every time these guys get on base, I try to let them go, because they’re pretty good runners,” Alfonzo said. “I think it’s more pressure when you have runners in scoring position for the pitcher.”
Over the first six games of the season, the ‘Clones rank second in the New York-Penn League in stolen bags. Under Tom Gamboa in 2016, the club recorded 83 stolen bases over a 76-game span. This season, after notching 11 over their first six games, Alfonzo’s team is on pace for 137.
This is a sizeable leap for any club — but it’s especially surprising when considering which players are leading the charge. Tops on the team, and the league for that matter, is Walter Rasquin, a fifth-year infielder who stole just 8 bags for Kingsport last season.
Rasquin, who hails from Caucagua, Venezuela and was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2013, isn’t the only member of the Cyclones with base stealing prowess. Ian Strom, a fellow FA, notched his second stolen bag of the season in the third inning of Brooklyn’s 5-3 loss to Hudson Valley.
Strom’s swipe placed him on second base, and after Jeremy Wolf moved him over to third with a groundout to Valley shortstop Deion Tansel, the 22-year-old Strom scored on a weak single by Leon Byrd. As per usual, the stolen base was crucial to the Cyclones’ run.
However, it wasn’t enough. The Cyclones would manage just five hits all game and waste a solid outing from Jake Simon. In his second start of the season, Simon limited Hudson Valley to six hits and three runs, but came away with the loss.
This disturbing trend – Brooklyn’s hitters struggling to give their starting pitcher run support at home – was put into context by Alfonzo: “You can’t steal first,” he noted. While he and his staff have given the green light for being aggressive on the basepaths, “the problem with not getting on base is that it’s tough to steal,” he said.
NEWS AND NOTES
Sunday marked the first time since 2009 that the Cyclones have started the season with three-consecutive sellouts at MCU Park. It was the 309th sellout in franchise history.
As part of Sunday’s festivities, the team wore special Paw Patrol jerseys to be auctioned off to benefit Vs. Kancer, a foundation that aids kids in their fight with pediatric cancer.
Up next: The ‘Clones finish off a three-game series with the Renegades on Monday, June 26 at 7:05 PM EST. Jose C. Medina (0-0, 0.00) is slated to face off against Austin Franklin (1-0, 1.80) under the bright lights of MCU Park.