The Cyclones have become quite adept at gathering speed down the stretch during their first two seasons under manager Rich Donnelly.

That's why an 0-2 start to this campaign, albeit at the hands of the rival Staten Island Yankees, shouldn't give the Brooklyn faithful reason for concern as the team prepares to host "Re-Opening Day" at MCU Park on Thursday evening.

"These are babies, colts running in the field.” Donnelly said of his young roster of Mets prospects, each of whom is eager to climb the Minor League ladder toward the ultimate dream: a shot at the Majors.

Cameras snapped countless photos, video cameras rolled throughout and microphones were thrust into the face of the 22-year-old second baseman just 48 hours before his professional debut.

You'd have thought Michael Jordan or Derek Jeter was inhabiting the Brooklyn Cyclones dugout Saturday evening as a media maelstrom descended on LJ Mazzilli, the Mets' fourth-round pick out of the University of Connecticut in this month's Major League Draft.

Anyone who has been around Rich Donnelly during his first two seasons as Cyclones manager knows the Ohio native is an affable sort, as quick with a quip as he is with the flash of a sign from the third-base coaches' box at newly renovated MCU Park.

But sitting in the Brooklyn dugout Saturday evening prior to the Baby Bums' initial workout of the 2013 campaign, the third-year skipper revealed a side of himself many of us who cover the team had never seen before.

Forty years after selecting a switch-hitting center fielder from Lincoln High School in the first round of the 1973 MLB Draft, the New York Mets went “Back to the Future” last week to pick LJ Mazzilli in the fourth round of the league’s annual talent search.

And wouldn’t you know, the 22-year-old second baseman is more than likely to cut his professional teeth just a few miles down the road from where his famous father, Lee Mazzilli, starred for Coney Island’s Railsplitters.

"With the 11th pick in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft, the New York Mets select ...."

Those words will officially kick off the 2013 Brooklyn Cyclones' season Thursday night as the parent-club Mets look to restock their Minor League system, including the roster of their Class A Short-Season franchise by the sea.

We're just three weeks or so away from welcoming a new crop of Cyclones to MCU Park for the annual 76-game grind of a New York-Penn League season.

But as Opening Day (June 17 at Staten Island) approaches, it's often interesting to take a quick peek at how some of the 2012 class of Baby Bums is faring as they progress up the Mets' Minor League chain.

On Saturday, May 11, single tickets went on sale at MCU Park for the Cyclones’ 2013 season, which starts this year on June 18.  In addition to the ticket sale, season ticket-holders were treated to a behind the scenes look at the refurbished clubhouse and a field tour of the newly renovated MCU Park that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy hit Coney Island more than six weeks after the Brooklyn Cyclones' 2012 season ended with a 2-0 loss at Hudson Valley in the third and decisive game of their first-round playoff series.

But the effects of the deady and destructive super storm are still being felt by area residents, including the Baby Bums as they prepare to open their 13th season on Surf Avenue.

By John Torenli

After leading a furious second-half charge that saw the Cyclones finish with the second-best record in the New York-Penn League and fall just short of stunning arch rival Staten Island in the first round of the playoffs last season, Rich Donnelly will be back as Brooklyn’s manager this coming June.


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