By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The sweltering heat beating down on Coney Island has got nothing on Stefan Sabol and the sizzling Brooklyn Cyclones.
Sabol went went 2-for-4 with his first pro homer, a double, two RBIs and two runs scored to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, as the Baby Bums celebrated Independence Day before a sun-drenched crowd of 6,400 at MCU Park with their season-high sixth straight win, a 9-5 thumping of visiting Williamsport.
The 20-year-old Sabol, the Mets' 17th-round pick out of Orange Coast College in California last month, is batting an earth-scorching .432 (16-for-37) with a homer, five doubles, six RBIs and seven runs scored during his recent run, boosting his overall average to .360 through 14 games for the Class A short-season franchise by the sea.
On Wednesday, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-handed hitting left fielder doubled home a run and scored during Brooklyn's four-run first inning. He walked in the third before leading off the fifth with a booming blast over the center-field wall to spark a five-run outburst as the Cyclones erased an ever-so-brief 5-4 deficit.
Though he humbly credits batting instructor Bobby Malek and the protection provided by hot-hitting first-baseman/designated hitter Cole Frenzel (.411) for his seemingly unconscious surge at the plate, Sabol continues to impress Brooklyn fans, who braved the sun Wednesday while enjoying the Cyclones' seventh win in nine games on Surf Avenue thus far this summer.
"[I'm] just trying to put the barrel on the ball and help my teammates out," Sabol said of his hitting streak. "Bobby's been working with me in the cages before the game, emphasizing my swing path. I've got Frenzel in front of me and that helps me as well."
While first-round picks Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Plawecki have received most of the ink during Brooklyn's early season run to the top of the McNamara Division, Sabol has quietly taken shape as one of the team's most reliable presences, both in the lineup and in the outfield.
"I think when you're in the minor leagues you have something prove every day," he noted. "I'm just going out there and having fun."
Frenzel, who went 2-for-5 with a triple, a run scored and two RBIs Wednesday, may not be long for Brooklyn as the organization may soon send him up to Class A Savannah or Class A Advanced St. Lucie before the month is up. His possible full-time replacement at first base, Jayce Boyd, collected two more hits against the CrossCutters, upping his average to .462 through three games since joining the Cyclones.
Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly, who led the Baby Bums to the playoffs with a late-season surge last summer, is certainly enjoying looking down at the rest of the division with a 13-4 record and a healthy four-game lead over second-place Hudson Valley. But the 65-year-old skipper knows that player development trumps winning at this level, and he's keen on seeing both improve over the 76-game grind of the New York-Penn League schedule.
“I’m kind of a harsh judge," Donnelly revealed after his team improved to 8-4 with a 5-2 victory over Aberdeen last Friday night at MCU. "I want them to be more consistent. I don’t want them to make mistakes, foolish mistakes. I’m always looking for a perfect game. I don’t know if I’m going to get it, but I’m looking for it."
The Cyclones' latest win was hardly perfect as starter Julian Hilario, who had yielded two earned runs over 10 innings in his first two outings, was chased in the fifth after surrendering five runs — three earned — on a season-high eight hits over 4 2/3 frames. Fortunately, the Brooklyn bullpen was stellar thereafter, with Dawrin Frias (2-2), Matthew Koch and Ernesto Yanez providing 4 1/3 innings of one-hit scoreless relief.