Position players loved to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player. Pitchers are heralded with the Cy Young Award. But those ho-hum Major League awards are nothing compared to the annual Clonies — the Brooklyn Paper’s awards for all things Cyclones.
I mean, who can forget the time, way back in 2008, when Wilmer Flores took home the coveted Darryl Strawberry Memorial Big League-Small League Award at the tender age of 17? Or the time in 2003 when we honored pitcher Brian Bannister with the Most Oblivious Cyclone Award after he walked around for a few innings with a piece of bubble gum on his cap as fans called him “Bubble Boy.”
So, in keeping with tradition, here are your 2018 Clonie Awards:
The Yes, Old-School Statistics Really Matter Award goes to Cyclones starters Jaison Vilera and Christian James, who were listed Nos. 1 and 2 in New York-Penn League’s pitching leaders, thanks to that still-important statistic of earned-run average. Vilera led the league, allowing an average of just 1.83 runs per nine innings, while James gave up just 2.01 runs over the course of a complete game. Vilera also led the league with 78 strikeouts in his 13 starts.
The Hey Now, You’re an All-Star Award goes to powerhouse lead-off hitter Ross Adolph. Not only did the outfielder from Ohio take home the All-Star Game MVP, he was the Clones’ most consistent offensive player.
The Triple-Threat Award goes to Adolph as well, thanks to his proficiency in making it to third base on one swing of the bat. Adolph tied a Cyclones record with 12 three-baggers on the season held by Brooklyn legend Darrell Ceciliani, leading the league in the process.
The Future of Pitching Award goes to Billy Oxford, who led the league this year in wins with eight, despite being a relief pitcher. Oxford was the Cyclones’ most reliable arm out of the pen at a time in baseball history when relievers are becoming more valuable than starters. Best of all, he is humble about his middle-inning success.
The Welcome Home Award goes to legendary former Cyclone manager Rich Donnelly, who led the Brooks from 2011 to 2013. This year, he returned as Edgardo Alfonzo’s bench coach.
The Etched in Ink Award goes to Christian James, the pitcher who sports a tattoo of baseball stitches on his arm. Now that’s dedication.
The Mama’s Boy Award goes to Brooklyn’s own Manny Rodriguez. The Fort Greene native cracked the first home run of his professional career over the scoreboard at MCU Park on his mother’s birthday, while she watched from the stands.
The Sharp Eye Award goes to third baseman Brian Sharp, who led the team with 25 walks.
The Back to the Bus Leagues award goes to Mets hurler Noah Syndergaard and third baseman Todd Frazier, both of whom spent some time away from Citi Field to help lead the Cyclones to victory in Brooklyn. Syndergaard threw five innings and struck out seven in a 2–1 win on July 7. Frazier, meanwhile, hit a homer and a single in two games with the Clones in which our boys went a paltry 1–1.
The Independent Spirit Award goes to Jose Brizuela, who returned to the New York-Penn League for the first time since 2014, when he played for the Vermont Lake Monsters. In between, he had a stint at the Frontier League before being signed by the Mets and sent to Brooklyn.
And the Steve Cohen Executive of the Year Award once again goes to Cyclones Vice President Steve Cohen, who has won the award almost every year since its inception in 2001.
— with Vince DiMiceli