By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It's simply the nature of the beast at the Class A short-season level.
You take a struggling player, work out the kinks in his game, watch him regain his confidence, batter opposing pitchers, field virtually everything that comes his way and develop into the leader of your team.
Then, the powers that be in the organization deem him fit to move up the minor league chain, leaving you to fill a gaping hole in your lineup and in the field.
That pretty much sums up the story of Cole Frenzel on Coney Island this summer.
Brooklyn's sure-handed first baseman and top hitter earned a promotion to Class A Savannah back on July 12, a move that almost directly coincided with the Cyclones slipping into their longest funk of the ongoing 76-game grind of the New York-Penn League schedule. The Baby Bums have split six games since Frenzel's departure, including losses in four of their last five entering Wednesday night's contest in Batavia, which kicks off a six-game road trip.
"We're just not a good team right now," Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly confessed following Tuesday afternoon's 6-3 defeat to Jamestown at MCU Park.
Frenzel, who batted .238 with a homer and 20 RBIs in 43 games with the Cyclones last season, began this year at Savannah, but couldn't quite find his groove at the long-season A level, going 3-for-22 in his first six games following a "rough Spring Training camp", according to Donnelly.
"He started up in Savannah and he really struggled, so they sent him back [to Brooklyn]," Donnelly noted.
Soon after his return to Coney Island, however, Frenzel worked closely with Cyclones batting instructor Bobby Malek, a member of the franchise's 2001 co-championship club, and settled in as the club's most consistent performer on a night-in, night-out basis.
"For the life of me, I don't know what he's doing," Donnelly confessed after watching Frenzel flirt with the .400 mark as the New York-Penn League's top hitter before settling in at .342 prior to his promotion two weeks ago. "He looks the same, but he's getting hits. He's just hitting the ball."
The seventh-round pick out of the University of Arizona in 2011 reached base in 10 of his first 12 games with Brooklyn and struck out only once in 41 at-bats en route to being named the 14-team circuit's Player of the Week on July 2.
Just as impressively, he left Brooklyn with the top fielding percentage among first baseman, a staggering .997 mark, on the 14-team circuit over the past two summers while emerging as the youthful Baby Bums' "veteran" leader at the tender age of 22.
The 6-foot-2 left-handed hitting Frenzel has gone 5-for-29 with a homer and four RBIs in his first eight games with Savannah since his promotion, hardly eye-popping numbers compared to his resume on Coney Island. But Donnelly knows the budding prospect is more than likely on his way up through the system, rather than back down.
"No one works harder than Cole," Donnelly intimated. "He and Bobby spent I don't know how many hours [in the batting cage]."
Donnelly and the Cyclones haven't exactly been left without an adequate replacement at first base.
Jayce Boyd, the Mets' sixth-round pick out of Florida State last month, is hitting .232 with five doubles, a homer and five RBIs in his first 21 games as a professional with Brooklyn. A member of the Seminoles' College World Series team is still settling in to his new digs and will likely see his batting average and run production improve as the summer wears on.
“Right now everything he hits is going right at somebody," Donnelly said of his new first-bagger during a recent homestand. "But those are good at-bats. He’s played on big stages before. He’s gonna be a good addition to our team. Every time he walks up there I feel like he’s going to do something good.”
Donnelly, a veteran of nearly 30 years coaching at the big league level and in the midst of his second summer on Surf Avenue, also knows that the better Boyd plays, the better his chances of leaving Brooklyn become.
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This, That and the Other Thing: At 21-15, the Cyclones enter their second six-game road trip of the season two full games behind first-place Hudson Valley in the McNamara Division standings. With a ..583 winning percentage, however, Brooklyn would be the NY-Penn Wild Card if the season ended today. ... 1B/DH Alexander Sanchez leads current Cyclones regulars with a .267 batting average, a big dropoff from the .342 mark Frenzel posted before his promotion. ... Brooklyn's .231 batting average is second-worst in the league, ahead of only Lowell. ... The Cyclones are last in the league with 137 runs scored, a stat that is offset a bit by their 2.74 team ERA, second-best on the circuit behind Tri-City, which boasts the NY-Penn's top record at 26-10. “We’re looking to start hitting again," Donnelly said Tuesday. "Probably the last 10 days we haven’t been hitting." ... Mets legends Rusty Staub and Felix Millan, members of the New York Mets Alumni Association Presented by Citi, greeted fans and signed autographs Tuesday afternoon at the Citibank branch at 1501 Kings Highway in support of Citi Tuesdays, a program designed to provide added value to Citi customers and Mets fans.