Brooklyn's emerging ace named NY-Penn Pitcher of the Week
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Any team with playoff aspirations -- especially one stuck in last place -- needs an ace to lead it back into serious contention.
For the Brooklyn Cyclones, Miller Diaz has suddenly emerged as that ace.
The hard-throwing Venezuelan right-hander earned New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week honors after Saturday's sparkling five-inning effort in a much-needed 3-0 victory over visiting Batavia in front of 6,354 rain-soaked fans at Coney Island's MCU Park.
Diaz, a 21-year-old hurler from Caracas, Venezuela, has been in the Mets' farm system since 2009, when he signed as an amateur free agent.
The fire-balling southpaw spent last season going 2-2 with a 3.78 ERA between Rookie-level Kingsport and Class A Savannah. Prior to that, Diaz spent time with the organization's affiliates in the Venezuelan Summer League, Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League.
Known as a high-velocity pitcher with raw, still-under-development mechanics, Diaz seems to be rounding into shape under the guidance of Brooklyn pitching instructor Marc Valdes.
After opening the season by permitting 14 runs -- seven earned -- over 14 1/3 innings in his first three starts, Diaz has held the opposition to only one run on six hits over 16 innings in his last three appearances, including Saturday's rain-interrupted gem.
Even more impressively, Diaz currently ranks third in the NY-Penn with 39 strikeouts, and opponents are batting a measly .186 against him this summer.
On Saturday, Diaz fanned a season-high nine batters, including three in a row during a flawless fourth inning. He worked in and out of his only significant jam in the fifth, yielding both hits to the MuckDogs, before a steady downpour forced him and his teammates off the field for just over two hours.
Brooklyn took two of three from Batavia over the weekend, but had dropped two in a row entering Wednesday afternoon's game at Lowell. With Diaz slated to take the hill again this week against the Spinners, the Cyclones stand 5 1/2 games behind first-place Hudson Valley in the McNamara Division with a 15-20 mark.
With just over 40 games remaining this summer, Brooklyn is hardly out of the hunt for the division crown, or at the very least, a shot at the NY-Penn Wild-Card.
Diaz (2-1, 2.37 ERA through six starts) could be the key to the Cyclones making some noise down the stretch en route to what they hope will be their third consecutive postseason appearance under manager Rich Donnelly.