“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” said Brooklyn Cyclones manager Chris Newell after a 3-1 start to the second half of the season after a successful 4-2 home series against the Hudson Valley Renegades.
While Brooklyn’s hitters appear to have had a reawakening to start the second half, two players in particular have stood out on the mound at this mid-season point. The two, both from last year’s draft, are sixth-round pick Tyler Stuart from Southern Mississippi and second-rounder Blade Tidwell from Tennessee.
With a 3-0 record, the 23-year-old Stuart has the lowest ERA in the minors: 1.42 over 13 games. He has struck out 79 batters in 69 innings and has a team-low WHIP of 1.06. He features several types of fastballs and relies on his recently developed slider as his “out” pitch.
Tidwell has a 5-3 record and 3.53 ERA over 13 games. The 22-year-old has 86 strikeouts in just 58 innings and a 1.27 WHIP. In addition to throwing a deceptive changeup, he got his fastball up to 97 mph in his last outing.
While the team’s pitching has remained effective, during the last two-week home stand the offense has come alive to seize the opportunity to win games after a subpar first half. Leading the way is last year’s first-round pick Kevin Parada, who leads the team with eight home runs and has made the left field wall a familiar landing spot, just under the base of the Thunderbolt roller coaster.
Along with the upsurge in hitting, the element of luck has also helped the Cyclones as William Lugo hit a towering home run off the top of the left field fence in a 4-1 win over the Blue Claws. The left field wall has also become an inviting target for Stanley Consuegra, who hit a rope over the 16-foot barrier right after coming off the injured list to again beat the Blue Claws 5-1 on Pride Night.
After a big 8-1 win to conclude the 3-3 home stand against the Blue Claws, the Cyclones (7-3) opened on the road on Independence Day, coming from behind to beat the Wilmington Blue Rocks 6-4 to take first place in the South Atlantic League’s North Division. This was also an important win since the players are starting to follow Newell’s mantra of “keep chipping away even though you’re behind.”