After occupying first place in the McNamara Division for a week, the Brooklyn Cyclones have fallen to third place in this four-team division. Just a few games separate the first place 27-19 Hudson Valley Renegades, the second place 28-19 Aberdeen Ironbirds and the 26-20 Cyclones.
Two players responsible for the team’s better-than-average record this season are infielders Luke Ritter and Wilmer Reyes who have been in the lineup since the start of the 2019 season.
Second baseman Ritter is the Mets’ seventh draft pick out of Wichita State. He was his team’s leading hitter in his junior (.341) and senior (.333) year, and finished his four-year collegiate career with an average of .299.
Coincidentally, Ritter graduated from Rockhurst High in Kansas City, Missouri, the same high school as the former Mets star pitcher David Cone. Although Ritter is still adjusting to the Penn League and is currently hitting .244, which is second best on the team, Ritter’s defense and ability to make contact at the plate have earned him a steady spot at second base.
Already Ritter has earned his signature moment of the season when he tied a club record, going five for six during a 5-4 win over Lowell. Against the best team in the New York Penn League, Ritter hit a home run to tie the game and a “walk off” single for the win that earned him the nickname “Ritter the Hitter.”
After spending three minor league seasons in the entry leagues below Brooklyn hitting a career .267 average, Dominican shortstop Reyes has emerged as the team’s top hitter. Currently, Reyes is on a 12-game hitting streak and has the fifth highest batting average (.331) in the league.
Following a three-game sweep of the Lake Monsters in Vermont, the Cyclones returned home to face the league-leading Lowell Spinners. After losing three in a row at home, the Cyclones dropped to third place in their division and then salvaged the last game of their home stand with a “bounce-back” win.
In a final 6-1 win over Lowell, the steady pitching of Garrison Bryant (3-1; 3.00 ERA) held the Spinners to just one run on three hits along with four strikeouts and no walks over an impressive six innings.
As a welcome addition to the team, Cyclones rookie center fielder Kennie Taylor was called up from Kingsport and made a memorable debut, going two for four with a single, a triple and two RBIs.
With his hitting and speed, the Mets’ 14th round draft pick out of Duke made such an impression on Cyclones Manager Edgardo Alfonzo that after the game he declared that his outfield was now set for the rest of the season with Jake Mangum moving from center to right field.
“I believe that we have the right team in place right now,” said Alfonzo. “All we need is for them to produce.”