Six Cyclones Named to NYPL All-Star Game
On Aug. 14, 2017, Ross Adolph and Carlos Cortes were still enrolled in college courses. Yeudy Colon, Wagner Lagrange, and Billy Oxford were playing baseball in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Jaison Vilera was in the midst of his first season in the United States.
Exactly one year later, all six players will represent the Brooklyn Cyclones in the 2018 New York-Penn League All-Star Game, which will be held at State College’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in University Park, P.A.
The six Cyclones will suit up as South All-Stars, which is also comprised of players from Staten Island, Aberdeen, State College, Williamsport, Mahoning Valley, and West Virginia.
All three position players were elected South All-Star Team starters, with Cortes at second base and Adolph and Lagrange roaming the outfield. It marks the seventh time in the game’s 14-year history and the first time in four seasons that at least six Cyclones will play in the NYPL Midsummer Classic.
“I think those guys really deserve to be there,” Cyclones manager Edgardo Alfonzo said. “When you have six guys, it means the team is pretty good, too. It’s a great honor and opportunity for those guys to represent Brooklyn and the Mets organization.”
With Vilera working as the rotation’s ace and Colon and Oxford bolstering the back-end of the bullpen, the right-handed trio has spearheaded one of the league’s best pitching staffs. Brooklyn pitching has spun eight shutouts this season, the second-most in the league, and ranks third in ERA (2.44) and strikeouts (438).
Vilera has been in a different stratosphere this summer, leading the league with a 1.43 ERA and 63 strikeouts. The 21-year-old is also first among NYPL starters with a .164 batting average against and 11.26 K/9 ratio. The Venezuelan-born righty’s anemic numbers are mostly the result of the 29.1 consecutive scoreless innings he compiled over six starts from July 5 to Aug. 5.
“Every time Jaison goes to the mound, he’s got the mentality that he can do it,” Alfonzo said. “To me, he looks like an A-ball or Double-A guy, and he’s been performing that way all season long. Even when he doesn’t feel good, he’s able to pitch well and get out of tough situations.”
Colon and Oxford have been two of the most reliable late-game arms in a bullpen that has accumulated 10 saves and stranded 64 percent of inherited runners. The Dominican-born Colon is tied for team lead with three saves and owns a 1.25 ERA, thanks in part to his own streak of 14 straight scoreless innings from June 24 to July 27. Oxford, the Mets 27th-round pick in last year’s draft out of Azusa Pacific (C.A.), has a 1.80 ERA and is one of five NYPL pitchers to have won a league-high five games.
After spending the final two weeks of the 2017 season on Coney Island, Lagrange has excelled over his first full year with the Cyclones, batting .286 with 17 RBIs and 21 runs scored. He’s also swiped six bases and collected four outfield assists, both good for top three on the team. “Wagner is a guy who, when he learns how to dominate the strike zone, is going to be a very dangerous hitter because he swings so hard and is always a line-drive guy,” Alfonzo said. “We talk about how to get a better approach and control his body, but he’s been working on it. It’s working so far.”
Cortes and Adolph have been mainstays in the top-half of the lineup for a Brooklyn offense that is third in the NYPL with a .258 batting average. Cortes, who is the highest 2018 draft selection on the Cyclones’ roster after going in the 3rd round out of South Carolina, is batting .276 with two home runs and 13 RBIs in 27 games. The Mets’ 2018 12th-rounder from Toledo, Adolph leads the team with a .790 OPS and ranks second in the NYPL with seven triples.
“It’s not easy coming from college, where there’s a lot of good players,” Alfonzo said. “And then to continue your season once you make the pros and be going to an All-Star Game, it’s very impressive what they’ve done.”