Manager Chris Newell’s message of “If you deal with your [hitting] issues from the first half, you’ll have success in the second half” has resonated with his team as the Cyclones have taken first place in the South Atlantic League’s North Division. With a reinvigorated lineup making contact at the plate, the team has an 11-4 record at the MLB All-Star break, just ahead of the second-place Aberdeen Ironbirds (9-5).
“It’s not that we weren’t hitting, but we wouldn’t get that two-out hit when we needed it,” Newell said. “We lost 13 walk-off games which could have been reversed.”
Now, after a five-game winning streak during a recent Wilmington road trip, the Cyclones have once come from behind to win and have also won in extra innings.
“It’s simple,” Newell said. “You’ve got to put the ball into play to get on base in order to score. You got to keep chipping away.”
One Cyclone leading this reinvigorated lineup is catcher Kevin Parada, who leads the team with a .268 average and eight home runs. Right behind Parada is backup catcher Drake Osborn, who also has displayed some power with six home runs. While Parada, the Mets’ 2022 first-round draft pick, catches the bulk of the games, Osborn adequately fills in behind the plate or at the DH slot. A recent example of Osborn’s peak hitting was on display during last month’s road trip to Aberdeen, where he hit two home runs and went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in a 4-0 Cyclone win.
“I told the guys to stay together; you belong here,” Newell said. “Go through it and handle it the right way. It will prepare you for success in the second half. Once we start swinging the bat well, look out!”