THE BROOKLYN CYCLONES 2012 ELITE PITCHING CLASS Falls Short of High Hopes in 2013

Luis Mateo had perhaps the most promising season in 2012 for Brooklyn, but Tommy John surgery laid waste to his 2013 season.

Luis Mateo had perhaps the most promising season in 2012 for Brooklyn, but Tommy John surgery laid waste to his 2013 season.

The 2012 Brooklyn Cyclones went 45-31, a record fueled by strong pitching performances. Hardcore, informed Mets fans buzzed with excitement. However, a glance at the team stats painted a broad picture of a pitcher’s league. The Cyclones team BA in 2012 was .230 with a paltry team SLG of .335. Meanwhile, the staff’s collective WHIP was 1.054 with an ERA of 2.62.

That’s the context. The league, for various reasons, heavily favored pitchers. (Counterpoint: Perhaps another reason to further appreciate the hitting performances of Brandon Nimmo, Stefan Sabol, Kevin Plawecki, Jayce Boyd, and Eudy Pina.)

Even so, it was hard not to be intrigued by some of the performances on the hill. Five hurlers started 12-13 games each. Here are their season-ending stats for 2012:

Gabriel Ynoa (age 19):

  • 2.23 ERA, 76.2 IP, 0.926 WHIP. 7.2 H/9, 7.5 SO/9, 1.2 BB/9.

Luis Mateo (age 22):

  • 2.45 ERA, 73.1 IP, 0.900 WHIP. 7.0 H/9, 10.4 SO/9, 1.1 BB/9.

Hansel Robles (age 22):

  • 1.11 ERA, 72.2 IP, 0.784 WHIP, 5.8 H/9, 8.2 SO/9, 1.2 BB/9.

Luis Cessa (age 20):

  • 2.49 ERA, 72.1 IP, 1.065 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 5.5 SO/9, 1.6 BB/9.

Rainy Lara (age 21):

  • 2.91 ERA, 68.0 IP, 0.956 WHIP, 7.0 H/9, 10.2 SO/9, 1.6 BB/9.

Some thoughts: in a word, wow. Impressive. The Fab Five! Any Met fan would have high hopes for this young group moving forward. Hansel Robles sported the best numbers, while Luis Mateo and Rainy Lara flashed the best pitching skill of all — an ability to make hitters take a sad, slow walk back to the pine.

Now let’s look at how these 5 intriguing prospects progressed in 2013.

Gabriel Ynoa (age 20)

Gabriel Ynoa.

Gabriel Ynoa.

Ynoa pitched for the Sand Gnats in Savannah (A-level) for the entire 2013 season. Good progess, plenty of innings, maintained an acceptable strikeout rate. The real test comes next season at St. Lucie. Here’s Soto from Mack’s Mets on Ynoa.

  • Savannah: 2.72 ERA, 135.2 IP, 1.025 WHIP. 8.2 H/9, 7.0 SO/9, 1.1 BB/9.

Luis Mateo (age 23):

Luis Mateo threw a total of only 11.2 IP, splitting time at St. Lucie (A+) and Binghamton (AA), rendering his statistics meaningless. A lost season, he underwent Tommy John surgery in June.

  • Overall: 6.17 ERA, 11.2 IP, 1.886 WHIP. 12.3 H/9, 10.0 SO/9, 4.6 BB/9.

Hansel Robles (age 23):

Hansel Robles.

Hansel Robles.

Robles spit time in the Rookie Gulf League (only 10.2 IP) and St. Lucie (74.2 IP). His WHIP soared, H/9 leaped, BB/9 more than doubled. Disappointing. Given mediocre reports on his “stuff,” it could be that the 2012 season was a fluke. Robles is slated for the Arizona Fall League.

  • Overall: 3.78 ERA, 95.1 IP, 1.322 WHIP, 9.0 H/9, 6.7 SO/9, 2.9 BB/9.

Luis Cessa (age 21):

Luis Cessa.

Luis Cessa.

Like Ynoa, Luis Cessa spent the 2013 season compiling innings and good numbers in Savannah for the Sand Gnats. Important to see the K’s jump from a very poor 5.5 to 8.6, along with slightly improved walk ratio. He won’t really be tested until next season.

  • Savannah: 3.12 ERA, 130 IP, 1.192 WHIP, 9.4 H/9, 8.6 SO/9, 1.3 BB/9.

Rainy Lara (age 22):

Rainy Lara.

Rainy Lara.

Lara split time in Savannah (Sally “A” League) and St. Lucie, with the majority of innings in St. Lucie. For the most part, Lara maintained his success, though his overall numbers benefit from the 50 innings he threw in the Sally League, where he dominated. The St. Lucie results were less impressive.

  • Overall: 2.85 ERA, 129.2 IP, 1.103 WHIP, 8.1 H/9, 7.3 SO/9, 1.8 BB/9.
  • Savannah:¬† 1.42 ERA, 50.2 IP, 0.888 WHIP, 6.9 H/9, 9.1 SO/9, 1.1 BB/9.
  • St. Lucie: 3.76 ERA, 79.0 IP, 1.241 WHIP, 8.9 H/9, 6.2 SO/9, 2.3 BB/9.

Conclusion: Don’t put too much stock in strong pitching performances in the NY/PENN League level. The big transition seems to be the leap from Savanna (A) to St. Lucie (A+). While the Brooklyn numbers were incredibly good, I don’t see a potential stud in this bunch . . . but you never know. It’s not unreasonable to hope that a couple will continue to progress, and one day contribute to the New York Mets in some capacity. Overall, I say that it’s probably wisest not to get too excited about anything that happens in the NY-PENN League.

I am in no way a minor league expert, and I have not seen any of these pitchers live. This post simply looks at their (almost) year-end results. People say a lot about statistics, pro and con, but it’s worth remembering that a statistic, very simply, stands as a record of what happened in a game. So-and-so flew out to left field. X stole a base. Y hit a homer and K’d twice. There’s value there, certainly, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. Mack’s Mets Report is still the first place I go (among several) to learn about¬† the Mets minor leagues prospects — and I recommend his site to any Mets fan. Mack Ade is an entertaining writer — he gets ornery sometimes — and he brings a valuable sense of history, of accumulated wisdom, to the table. This is not Mack’s first rodeo.

Note: 2013 stats as of 9/1/13.

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3 comments

  1. Eraff says:

    The guys in question DOMINATED @ Brooklyn…..with amazing consistency. They ALL quickly proved that they needed a bigger challenge—and THAT is the goal of a low A Minor league assignment—Readiness for a Tougher assignment.

    They allowed all three to remain at the low level, relatively unchallenged///proving NOTHING and limiting development. As for their results this year—also proof of not much other than a need for further challenge.

    The Brooklyn franchise is a little strange—I believe it’s “house run” by the Mets themselves…not Independent like most other MILB outfits. It’s a close to home brag book/showcase. I believe the Mets may be too heavily invested in non-developmental outcomes in Brooklyn—Profit, Ego…… they may have a tendency to hold on to guys instead of “ruining the show” by promoting their best players away.

    • For context, here’s the league average pitching line: Age 21.4, ERA 3.20, WHIP 1.252, H/9 8.2, BB/9 3.0, SO/9 7.8.

      The Brooklyn team average: Age 21.5, ERA 2.80, WHIP 1.156, H/9 7.0, BB/9 3.4, SO/9 8.9.

      An average pitcher can put up good numbers in that league, and even very good numbers may not be “very good” in any broader context.

      Crunching some numbers this morning, I found the Mets minor league ages to be in sync with the rest of baseball, somewhat to my surprise.

  2. Eric/Eraff says:

    I wasn’t commenting on AGE. The fact is that each member of the Cyclones 2012 Staff had a very easy roll. They could have advanced a couple of them to greater challenge last year. Why didn’t they? Admittedly, I have a lack of trust that their decisions are ALL BASEBALL. There are many agendas with Hungry Mouths to Feed.

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