Returning to the Brooklyn Cyclones, now a High-A affiliate of the New York Mets, is second-season outfielder Antoine Duplantis. The 24-year-old from Lafayette, La., was drafted out of LSU in 2019 as the college’s all-time hits leader, batting .324 with 359 hits over four seasons. As a member of the 2019 Cyclones Short Season A team, he was the hero of the New York Penn League playoff final that gave Brooklyn its first championship since 2001.
“I just dropped the bat head on the ball on an inside pitch and pulled it down the right field line,” said Duplantis, describing his RBI triple that scored teammate Jake Mangum from first base to tie the game 3-3 in the seventh inning against the Lowell Spinners. Duplantis would then score on a single for the Cyclones’ eventual 4-3 championship win.
Now as this season’s leadoff hitter, batting .267 with five home runs, Duplantis is the team’s leader with 48 runs scored and has been a part of the Cyclones’ second-half offensive resurgence. Making good contact at the top of the order, he had a career game, going 4-for-5 in an 11-4 win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks at Maimonides Park.
Looking forward to moving up to the next minor-league level, Duplantis said, “I love baseball and I want to see how far I can make it. Like my head coach at LSU said, if you want to play professional baseball you have to conquer the next level.”
Growing up in Louisiana, Duplantis and his brother Armand also competed in local pole-vaulting competitions before going to college. Entering LSU, Antoine chose to play baseball while Armand stayed with pole-vaulting and excelled at the sport at LSU.
Recently during the Summer Olympics in Japan, Antoine’s younger brother “Mondo” took center stage and won the gold medal in the men’s pole-vaulting competition. As the current world record holder at 6.18 meters, the 21-year-old competed for Sweden, taking advantage of his dual citizenship. On the morning of Aug. 3, just the height of 6.02 meters was all that was needed for Duplantis to beat out his American competitor Chris Nilsen. After winning gold, Duplantis made three more attempts at 6.19 meters to break his own world record (6.18), but came up short as he embraced the gold medal that he had always dreamed about.
“I’m just so proud of him and how he handled to whole event,” said Antoine. “He has dreamed of winning an Olympic medal his whole life, so to see him go out there to do it was special.”
As far as Antoine’s own goal is concerned, he is still “chasing the dream,” the term used by minor league players hoping to make the majors. “It’s a step by step process each day; you can’t rush the process for improvement,” he said.