Photo Courtesy of George Napolitano
By Luca Messina
He’s calm, he’s collected, he’s not one to wear his emotions on his sleeve but don’t let his introverted demeanor fool you.
Cyclones’ infielder Danny Muno been become privy to baseball on Coney Island after being selected in the 9th Round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and in just a few weeks, fans have taken a liking to the workman-like effort he brings to MCU Park each and everyday.
“He’s been a catalyst, I’ve only seen him for only a few games but I think he can do just about anything. To have him in that lineup, it looks like it’s a real plus,” says Cyclones’ radio voice Warner Fusselle.
The proverbial road to professional baseball for Muno came by way of the normal issues any player faces: hard work, long hours spent in the batting cage as well as honing his defensive skills and the everyday grind of playing baseball year-round.
But Muno, besides being a table-setter and top-of-the-order catalyst, brings an intangible that very few possess: championship pedigree.
The Fresno State alumnus was fortunate enough to a member of the Bulldogs College World Series Championship as freshman in 2008. A stunning run that most deemed nearly impossible at the time.
“It was an experience of a lifetime and something I’ll remember forever,” Muno said. “The thought that nobody had predicted to us win and for us to actually do it was just incredible.”
When asked if that particular experience helped to lay a foundation for his professional career, Muno seemed to agree.
“Taking a whole winning mentality into everything that you do will help me in my professional career for sure.” Another intriguing element of Muno’s game is his durability. Up until a recent right hand contusion that saw him hit the Disabled List, Muno had yet to miss a game at any level, including little league. Even playing in 200 straight games during his four-year college career. Another feat that most players have never accomplished.
“I guess just a string of good luck, I knocked on wood,” Muno laughed. The shortstop also attributed the durability to his offseason regimen with renowned trainer Dr. Marcus Elliot, who’s based out of Santa Barbara.
“He’s very big on injury prevention and has been very successful in what he’s done. I can attribute it to him for sure,” said Muno.
But Cyclones’ fans need not worry, the recent layoff hasn’t seemed to slow down Muno. The California native returned to accustomed leadoff spot in the lineup on July 8th after missing 13 games and picked up right where he left off finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored. Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Muno began the inning with a leadoff single to right in what ended as an eventual loss as J.B. Brown flew out deep to left. Since his return, he’s hitting .381 (8-for-21) and has reached base safely in 14 of 27 plate appearances.
“He’s never missed a game in his life and comes back like he hasn’t missed anything,” Fusselle said. “He’s very impressive and as Coach Donnelly has said, ‘he’s a winner’.”
In 46 at-bats on the season, Muno is hitting a team-leading .348 (16-for-46) with an three RBI and ten runs scored.
When asked about defending the McNamara Division Championship and potentially culminating another Championship Series appearance with a victory, Muno expressed optimism.
“Our goal is to win it obviously and we have to just take it one game at a time,” Muno said.
For Manager Rich Donnelly, Muno is a player that makes the rest of the lineup better.
“He’s does everything that a leadoff hitter is supposed to do,” Donnelly said. “If you’re a winner, it doesn’t matter which level you’re at or what level you’re going to, it doesn’t stop.”
Donnelly also mentioned the excitement that Muno has already generated.
“There are three kinds of players: there are those that watch what happens, those that make things happen and those that wondered what the heck happened. Danny is the guy in the middle, the guy that makes things happen.”
As Brooklyn looks to defend its McNamara Division, fans known where to find Muno. At the top of the order, continuing to be to be a presence but without making it known or creating any unnecessary attention.