However, the top of their order has provided a bright spot for the 7-10 team, as evident by performances during a recent home showing against the Connecticut Tigers, the short season single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.
Outfielder Gene Cone, 21, has served as the Cyclones lead-off hitter, a role that manager Tom Gamboa says is here to stay for the Coney Island-based club. So far this season, Cone is hitting .245 with three doubles over the course of 49 at bats.
Cone, a product of the University of South Carolina, was the Mets tenth-round selection in last month’s MLB draft, and has left quite the impression on Gamboa in a relatively short amount of time.
“We really like what we see from Cone,” Gamboa said after a 5-4 loss to the Tigers on Saturday where Cone went 2-of-5 from the plate. “He really is a spark plug leading off the game. He’s got a quick bat, he’s got about 50 plate appearances and only struck out four times so you know he’s going to make contact, and he runs real well.
He’s a high energy player,” he added. “I love him at the top of the lineup.”
Jay Jabs, 21, the all-important third hitter in the line-up, was a seventeeth-round draft choice by the Mets this June. While 519 players were selected before the Franklin Pierce University alum, Jabs has had a better month than plenty of others who went earlier in the draft.
Thus far, the third baseman/designated hitter is batting a solid .289 with three doubles, one triple and 6 RBIs in 45 at bats this year. He’s also shown a big league level of plate discipline, drawing a team-high nine walks in 12 games.
“Jabs has had so many quality at bats and he got two more hits again today,” Gamboa said after a 2-for-4 showing for Jabs against the Tigers on Saturday. “Jay’s had some real good at-bats for us. We have the right guy in the right spot.”
Yet another draft choice who has really excelled in the early portion of the Cyclones season is shortstop Colby Woodmansee, who was a fifth-round selection by the Mets, making him one of the more prized possessions of the selection process.
Woodmansee,21, has become a personal favorite of Gamboa’s, and it’s hard not to when you’re hitting .375 in your first 48 at-bats in the clean-up spot. The Arizona State product has punched in seven runs, which is tied for second on the Cyclones.
“Cone and Jabs and Woodmansee, the three of them from day one have been our most consistent guys,” Gamboa said.
This threesome currently sits amongst the top few hitters on the squad, and will continue to be heavily relied upon as the Cyclones progress throughout the summer.
On the flip side, someone else who the Cyclones are looking to get past an early season mega-slump is third-round draft choice and infielder Blake Tiberi.
Tiberi, 21, was selected out of the University of Louisville after posting big numbers on what turned out to be his final season with the Cardinals. He hit .340, which was good for fourth on the squad, and he also tied for second in home runs and RBI’s with 10 and 51 respectively.
The 2016 100th overall draft choice has faced some early adversity in his pro baseball career, only hitting a pedestrian .152 in 33 at-bats to start the season. To this point, Tiberi only has four base hits.
“He is going to be playing a lot,” Gamboa said of Tiberi. “Scouts that signed him also signed Daniel Murphy and said that at the college level, Tiberi was a better hitter than Murphy, so he comes with a real high recommendation.
He had a great year at Louisville, we’re not seeing the real him,” he added. “He’s just in a real rut right now, he’s not even able to get his arms extended. We’re going to give him an opportunity to battle through it.”
After a promising first inning and an error from Woodmansee in the second, starting pitcher Gabriel Llanes was roughed up before exiting after five innings last Saturday. The errant defensive play proved unforgiving, as the 20-year-old pitcher exited having allowed seven hits, five runs (only one earned), six strikeouts and two walks.
As a result, Llanes, who has shown several bright spots and remains in Gamboa’s good graces, fell to 0-2 with a 4.71 ERA after four starts. For the season, Llanes, who was the Cyclones’ opening day starter, has allowed 29 hits, 18 runs, and 11 earned runs in 21 innings of work. He’s also struck out 14 and walked five.
“It’s just a shame,” said Gamboa. “When you get into pro ball where you’re playing every day, you have to learn to have a short memory and forget things fast when you’re struggling like we are. We have a lot of guys who are scuffling on offense and we just have to keep working with them. These kids are building some character early on in the season.”
Follow Bryan Fonseca on Twitter @BryanFonsecaNY.