After winning the 2019 New York Penn League Short Season-A Championship, it has taken a while for fans to get used to the Brooklyn Cyclones playing in a new and more competitive High-A East minor league division.
Returning with the basic core of players from the 2019 championship team to begin the 2021 season, the Cyclones opened the season “behind the eight ball” with a combined 4-7 road record against Ashville and Greenville. Having split a six-game opening home series with Hudson Valley and losing four games straight to Aberdeen, the Cyclones started May with a 7-14 record that eventually landed them in last place to finish the season with a record of 48-70 in their five-team division.
Even though the Cyclones split their final six-game series with the Jersey Shore Blue Claws, fans were treated to a classic 9-2 win in the next-to-last game of the season. Earning his third win of the season, David Griffin pitched six scoreless innings, striking out eight batters without allowing a hit until the fifth inning. On the offensive end, it was virtually a home run derby as Jaylen Palmer, Oscar Campos, Luke Ritter, Francisco Alvarez and Wilmer Reyes each stroked homers over the fence.
After returning from a wrist injury that had him sit out all of July, second baseman Luke Ritter has particularly finished this season strong. As a returning 2019 championship Cyclone, this season the Wichita State product was third in team home runs with 14, third in RBIs with 44 and fourth with 58 hits.
Cyclone radio announcer Keith Raad said, “He finished with 14 homers, third most behind Alvarez (22) and Mauricio (19). We saw players like Luke Ritter play themselves from obscurity to the Mets’ Top 30 List.”
Even returning shortstop Wilmer Reyes from that same 2019 team lit up the infield with his sparkling defense and his offense during the Cyclones’ closing home stand. After sitting out most of the 2021 season in rehab in St. Lucie, Reyes joined the Cyclones one week before the end of the season to bat .406 with two home runs and eight RBIs.
“For the first full season in Cyclones’ history, we had the top three position player prospects [Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio and Brett Baty] in the organization and watched them grow,” said Raad. “We learned that while Short Season-A might have been more important for wins and losses in the short term, despite the 48-70 season, High-A baseball is an amazing place to witness future big league players grow and develop into future stars.”