Revered Ex-Met Pitcher Anthony Young Loses Fight with Brain Cancer


By Jerry Del Priore

Lenny Harris and A. Young

Former New York Mets Lenny Harris (L) and Anthony Young at a Mets’ Fantasy Camp.

Former New York Mets pitcher Anthony Young, known for setting the all-time MLB record for consecutive loses with 27, succumbed to brain cancer, the team announced Tuesday. Young was 51.

Back in January, the doctors diagnosed Young with an inoperable brain tumor. Early on Tuesday, former teammate Lenny Harris tweeted Young had slipped into a coma, and hours later, the Mets announced that he had passed away.

Young played six seasons in the majors—three with the Mets, two with the Chicago Cubs and one with the Houston Astros—and had a career ERA of 3.89, pretty respectable for the hard-luck hurler who will be remembered for dropping numerous ill-fated contests with suspect New York clubs.

The right-hander—who was drafted twice: first in 1984 by the Montreal Expos, and second by the Mets in 1987—posted a 15-48 record in 460 innings of work in 181 tilts.

Young’s 27-game losing streak—14 as a starter and 13 as a reliever—spanned two seasons with the Mets, from May 6, 1992 to July 24, 1993.

It’s not often that someone who sets an inauspicious losing record was beloved. But the Houston native was a New York fan favorite, and mine as well. Perhaps it was the way he handled the mark: with class and dignity, the same way he dealt with his cancer battle.

As a lifelong Mets fan, I will always remember Young’s infectious smile, even throughout the streak, especially since it must’ve been difficult for him to deal with all the media attention.

After hanging up his baseball spikes, Young went on to become a youth pitching coach in Houston. He continued provided pitching lessons while undergoing treatment for his brain tumor, according to Sports Illustrated.

Rest in Peace, Anthony Young. You will be missed.

Advertisements

Columbia Southpaw Thomas Szapucki Earns SAL Pitcher of the Week Accolade


By Jerry Del Priore

TS Hurler

Thomas Szapucki, the New York Mets’ No. 4 prospect.

The South Atlantic League named Columbia Fireflies lefty starter Thomas Szapucki pitcher of the week for the week of June19-25, the league announced Monday.

Szapucki, 21, allowed just two hits and no runs while fanning a season-high 10 batters in six innings of work in a 2-1 loss to the Kannapolis Intimidators Sunday night at Spirit Communications Park.

Szapucki, the New York Mets No. 4 prospect, missed the first two months of the 2017 season due to a shoulder impingement. The former Brooklyn Cyclone is 1-1 with a 2.82 ERA in four games with the Fireflies since returning from the disabled list.

No stranger to high strike out games, Szapucki, the Mets’ 2015 No. 5 draft pick out of Dwyer High School, whiffed 10 or more hitters in five of his nine starts in 2016 with Brooklyn.

The Palms Garden, Florida, native paced all short-season hurlers in ’16 with a 14.9 K:9 IP ratio.

For his three-year professional career with the Mets organization, Szapucki sports a 5-4 record with a 2.23 ERA and has punched out 110 batters against a mere 27 walks.

Szapucki owes much of his success to his outstanding curveball, which Baseball America calls the best in the Mets organization.

“My brother, Nicholas, introduced the grip to me,” Szapucki said of his curveball in a press release. “I stuck with the grip all throughout high school, started getting better at throwing it. It turned out to be a very good pitch for me.”

Szapucki is the second Firefly this season to garner a league award. The South Atlantic League named Merandy Gonzalez Player of the Month for April.

 

 

Tim Tebow Set to Join St. Lucie Mets


By Jerry Del Priore

T. Tebow

Tim Tebow set to join St. Lucie Mets.

After no news on the Tim Tebow promotion front, New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson announced today that the Fireflies outfielder will play his final game in Columbia.

The 29-year-old will be promoted to the Class A-Advanced St. Lucie Mets after tonight’s Fireflies’ home game.

“Tim brought an incredible amount of experience and leadership to our clubhouse,” Fireflies president John Katz said in a press release. “His contributions, both on the field and in our community, have made a tremendous impact on our team, the City of Columbia and the entire South Atlantic League. We wish Tim the best as he continues his journey to Citi Field.” 

 

Tim Tebow Promotion Still Up in the Air


By Jerry Del Priore

Tebow

Tim Tebow of the Columbia Fireflies.

There has been plenty of speculation surrounding the New York Mets promoting outfielder Tim Tebow to the next minor league level at some point this summer.

Rarely does a minor league baseball player garner the mass hype that Tebow gets. But, if you have followed his professional athletic career, Tebow is anything but the typical professional baseball player; the normal rules don’t seem to apply to the sometimes-loved, sometimes-despised two-sport athlete.

Currently with the Columbia Fireflies of the mid-level, full-season Single-A South Atlantic League (SAL), there was serious talk amongst Mets’ brass, saying that the polarizing ex-NFL quarterback might get the call to a higher level after the SAL All-Star game, which took place on June 20th.  

But the game has passed, and nothing has taken place yet. And it might not. According to the Brooklyn Daily, New York has announced that Tebow, 29, will remain with the Fireflies for the remainder of their baseball season.

T. Tebow

Tim Tebow hustles to first base.

 

However, you can’t completely rule out a possible promotion of the former Heisman Trophy winner, who is batting .222 with three home runs, 22 RBI, 14 doubles and a triple in 212 at-bats in 63 games with the Fireflies. Tebow’s drawing power is undeniable, and he would be a good fit with the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League (FSL) because of his Florida ties.

Tebow met with the media on June 9th, raising further conjecture that a move could be in the works.

However, no change has been reported. The Fireflies didn’t return an email regarding the Tebow matter.

Moreover, Tebow is in his first season of professional baseball, and has room to develop into a better overall player, hopefully for him. Whether the former Florida Gator is good enough to make ‘The Show’ at this point is too early to make the call. But some baseball insiders don’t think he has the diamond skillset to do so.

Tebow fans will just have to wait and see, for now.

 

 

New York Mets Minor League Moves: Three Columbia Fireflies Promoted to St. Lucie


By Jerry Del Priore

Michael Paez led Fireflies with two homeruns Thursday night.

Mets infield prospect  Michael Paez gets promoted to St. Lucie.

During the week, the New York Mets announced that they promoted three Columbia Fireflies of the mid-level-A South Atlantic League (SAL) to Advanced-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League (FSL).

After hitting .290 with eight homers and 43 RBI in 224 at-bats in 64 games with the Fireflies, the Mets moved infielder Michael Paez, 22, up a level.

The Miami, Florida, native has gone 3-10 with two RBI in two tilts with St. Lucie.

In addition, New York transferred right-handed hurler Merandy Gonzalez, 21, who started the SAL All-Star game, from Columbia to St. Lucie after amassing an 8-1 record with a 1.55 ERA in 69.2 innings of work in 11 games.

Plus, the Mets promoted righty pitcher Jordan Humphreys, 21, from the Fireflies to St. Lucie.

J. Humph.

Hurler Jordan Humphreys is now with the St. Lucie Mets.

The Floridian was masterful while with Columbia, posting a stellar 10-1 mark with an impressive 1.42 ERA in 11 contests.

However, the former Brooklyn Cyclone didn’t a fare nearly as well in his first outing with St. Lucie, surrendering six runs (five earned) in four frames.

But the Mets bats bailed him out, as they routed the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay Rays), 19-7, Friday night at First Data Field.

Ex-Cyclones Gonzalez, Paez Shine as Fireflies in SAL All-Star Game


By Jerry Del Priore

All_StarAnnouncings19201080_6672zvad_noalmtdpTwo former Brooklyn Cyclones were on display in the 58th annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game Tuesday night at Spirit Communications Park, the home of the Columbia Fireflies.

The game ended in a 3-3 tie after seven innings due to rain.

Columbia right-handed ace Merandy Gonzalez (8-1, 1.55 ERA), a Cyclone in 2016, started for the Southern Division, pitching a scoreless top of the first.

Fireflies infielder Michael Paez (.290/8 HRs/43 RBI), who played with Brooklyn last year, had a single and scored a run.

The SAL named Columbia first baseman Dash Winningham as the game’s MVP, as he doubled in two runs and a drew a walk.

Fireflies reliever Adonis Uceta struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh.

Staten Island Yankees Pitcher Drew Finley Eyes Bounce Back Season


By Jerry Del Priore

Drew Finley

Drew Finley with the Staten Island Yankees.

Last year with the short-season Single-A Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League (NYPL), right-handed pitcher Drew Finley failed to find his groove. He posted a 0-3 record with 4.28 ERA in six game starts in 27.1 innings of work.

Finley said it was due to a strained flexor tendon in his throwing arm, which curtailed his second season of professional baseball.

But after a few months of rehabbing the injury, Finley said he’s now ready to pitch and win for his current team, and see wherever this season takes him.

“I feel good. I’m starting the season here (Staten Island) and I’ll see what happens from there,” Finley, 20, said Saturday at the Staten island Yankees’ Media Day at Richmond County Ballpark. “But as long as I’m here, hopefully I’ll put my team in a good spot to win. I’m back and better when I was here last year, so I’m excited to see what happens, that’s for sure.”

After the New York Yankees selected him in the third-round of the 2015 MLB amateur draft out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, California, they shipped him to the Pulaski Yankees of the Appalachian League (Rookie).

Finley enjoyed a decent first year of pro ball, recording a 0-1 mark with a 3.94 ERA in six games across 32.0 frames that same campaign.

20170617_152609

Drew Finley answers questions Saturday on Media Day at Richmond County Ballpark.

While getting promoted is something he aspires to, Finley isn’t overly concerned with it at this point. He just wants to feel healthy and pitch well; everything else, he believes, will fall into place once it all happens.

Moreover, “The Show” will come in due course.

“That’s not really my call,” he said of being called up. “Wherever I am, whatever day I’m being called to go throw, I’m going to out there and do the same thing I do wherever I’m at. Each step of the way, my goal is to get the Big Leagues. However long it takes to get there, I’m okay with it. As long as I’m playing baseball, things can’t be too bad, right?”

Finley is slated to start game two of the season against host and cross-bridge rivals, the Brooklyn Cyclones, Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

 

Michael Paez Blasts Columbia into First Place


By Jerry Del Priore

Michael Paez led Fireflies with two homeruns Thursday night.

Michael Paez slammed two homers Thursday night.

Fireflies second baseman Michael Paez clubbed two homers and drove in four en route to a 7-2 win over the Greenville Drive (Boston) and first place in the South Atlantic League Southern Division Thursday night at Fluor Field at the West End.

The former Brooklyn Cyclone smashed a three-run round tripper in the third inning and later blasted a solo shot over the left-field wall in the eighth. Paez is currently hitting .284 with six dingers and 39 RBI in 208 at-bats in 60 contests.

Columbia right-handed starter Harol Gonzalez (4-4, 4.11 ERA), another ex-Cyclone, was superb, allowing two earned runs while whiffing six over 7.2 frames.   

The Fireflies (39-26) have been on a torrid stretch, going 18-6 over their last 24 games, dating back to May 24th, when they trailed the Drive by six.

Columbia, the mid-level, full-season Single-A affiliate of the New York Mets, holds a half game lead over Greenville (39-27) with three tilts left in the first half and now control its own destiny. If Columbia wins its final three games, the team will clinch a playoff berth.

 

Pitcher Gabriel Llanes Gives Fireflies Shot in Arm Sunday


Jerry Del Priore

Gabriel Llanes

Pitcher Gabriel Llanes picks up 4th win of season.

Pitching has been the Columbia Fireflies’ strong suit this season, with Jordan Humphreys (9-1, 1.41 ERA) and Merandy Gonzalez (8-1, 1.56 ERA)  leading the way.

But they’re not the only two hurlers having productive seasons. Righty Gabriel Llanes picked up his fourth victory of the year after tossing 8.2 innings of two-run ball in Columbia’s 3-2 win over the Charleston RiverDogs (New York Yankees) Sunday at Spirit Communications Park.

The 21-year-old former Brooklyn Cyclones pitcher has lasted seven or more frames in three consecutive starts.

For the season, Llanes, the New York Mets’ 15th-round pick in the 2014 MLB amateur draft, is 4-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 70.2 innings of work in 11 contests.

With the Cyclones in 2016, the Downey, California, native posted a 4-8 mark with a 3.94 ERA in 80.0 frames in 14 games.

Five Borough Wrestling Celebrates Three Years in Brooklyn with Superb Local Talent


By Jerry Del Priore

20170609_223318

The Man of Steel Mike Verna plays up to the fan in Brooklyn Friday night.

New York City is currently producing some of the top professional wrestling talent on the independent circuit.

And that was evident to the standing room crowd Friday night at Five Borough Wrestling’s, in conjunction with New York Wrestling Connection, third year anniversary ‘A Night to Remember’ show at the American Legion in Old Mill Basin, Brooklyn.

Local grapplers such as Mike Verna, Chris Dickinson, Logan Black and Talon were on hand at the high-octane action event.

Here’s how the combat conflict went down.

Darius Carter (Wrestling’s Richest Prize) vs. Pro Wrestling Maniac Joe Gacy

It was a pick your poison match, with Verna, FBW’s heavyweight title holder, selecting Darius Carter’s, Tier 1’s Champion’s, opponent.

Verna chose Joe Gacy, and he gave Carter a run for his money, in a highly competitive, back-and-forth match. But Carter emerged victorious after using the reverse code breaker to secure the 1-2-3.

The Infamous Bobby Fish vs. Dirty Daddy Chris Dickinson

20170609_204001

Chris Dickinson gets ready to peel Bobby Fish out of the corner.

Staten island’s own rough-and-tumble Dickinson took on Fish of Ring of Honor fame.

Fish utilized the ankle lock move to submit Dickinson in another high-quality, physical affair.

Challengers Logan Black (King of Chaos) and Bam Sullivan vs. FBW Tag Champs Fource (AJ Spectre and Bear Bronson), with PJ Stackpole in their corner  

Fource picked up the victory after outside inference from Matt Macintosh, who grabbed Black’s valet, causing the distraction, which led to eventual pin of Sullivan.

Rex Lawless vs. Talon

Talon, a Bay Ridge native and talented wrestler, scored the win, with a roll up of Lawless.

Ethan Page vs. Space Monkey and Caveman in the Governor’s Invitational

After Page mocked and refused to face Space Money, Caveman entered the ring. Page said he would take on both wrestlers, and destroy them without a doubt. the Governors invitational the Governors invitational

Much to Page’s chagrin, Space Monkey and Caveman pinned him in an extremely entertaining match.

The Greek God Papadon vs. Maxwell Jacob Friedman in a Career Match

With his career on the line, Papadon make quick work of MJF with a roll up. To say the least, MJF left feeling irate.

The Man of Steel Mike Verna vs. The Rogue and House of Glory Champ Anthony Gangone (Main Event)

It took help from Carter, who picked Gangone to go up against Verna, but The Rouge defeated the Brooklyn superhero with a powerbomb.

In addition, Denny Gavin, an oblivious fan favorite in his debut match in a fatal four-way, fought his way to triumph.