Photo by Gersen Legend
By Rich Mancuso
Franklin Correa got the start at second base for the Brooklyn Cyclones Thursday night at MCU Park and finished some mop up work on the mound in the final inning. As they say, he took one for the team as the Cyclones New York Mets Penn League affiliate continues their struggle to stay at .500 and a wild card spot in the upcoming postseason.
With eleven games remaining, the Cyclones need wins and again they failed to get one losing to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, 5-1. Remember this is a short league season and also a learning process at this level.
Correa, at 20-years of age got another lesson on the mound. Manager Tom Gamboa had a thin pen and needed some help to close out a losing game. Correa went 2-for-4 at the plate and handled the plays at second with ease.
But pitching, for the righthander out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is not an everyday job he wants, though he retired the side in his quick role and struck out two in the ninth. There was a mediocre fastball and a few breaking balls that many in the press box upstairs are still trying to understand.
That does not matter how hard he threw, or what type of pitches were thrown. Correa is a natural infielder who was signed as a minor league free agent in 2012. The Mets organization admires the attitude and Correa is aware that youth is on his side.
The issue is, how long will it take Correa to go up a notch in their minor league system? The Mets are enriched with good and young infield talent in their system, and it may take a few more years before Correa gets the call and moves up in the ranks.
He said about his third and brief appearance on the mound, “ I didn’t feel weird. Yeah, I used to pitch in the Dominican, like when I was ten years old.”
Gamboa, in need of some relief asked Correa to mop it up. The Cyclones bullpen was taxed and starter Erik Manoah tossed 3.2 innings, giving up four runs and six hits with a final pitch count of 87.
Gamboa told his infielder to take it easy when he got on the mound in the final inning.
“I said, ‘Hey Franklin just the straight and change and throw it down the middle.’ He did a good job. It’s something a manager needs to have done sometimes. We’re losing and our starter goes two-and-two thirds and we over taxed our bullpen.”
Gamboa added, when asked if there was an inclination of Correa pitching more in the final 11-games: “This was strictly helping out the team and we needed it.”
“I was just having fun and it didn’t matter about the velocity,” Correa said. “He, (Gamboa) told me to take it easy and try and help the team.”
However this was a moment for a youngster and another learning experience on the professional level. Correa is in his fourth year with the Mets organization and spent all of last year with the Gulf Coast Mets. He appeared in 12 games at second, 29 at third, and five at shortstop and was charged with 10-errors with a fielding percentage of .931.
There were also eight multi-hit games and Correra batted .306 at home and .233 on the road. Now, he is the lone starting and position player from the Dominican Republic in the Cyclones lineup.
“I feel I am good at it and will get better,” said Correra about his plate appearances. “Just try and put the ball in play and do what I know. I have more respect for the game here. You need to be ready to play where the team wants you to play.”
The attitude impresses his manager. And, at some point during the winter Correa will return home to the Dominican Republic and continue to work on his progression.
In the fourth inning, and batting at the bottom of the order, Correa hit a perfect double to right center and was stranded. It was the lone hit for the Cyclones in the inning and an impressive at bat, but he was not satisfied.
“God willing,” he said, “I’m working on the tools to get better.” And in due time, the Mets organization could give him the call to take that next step. In the meantime, Correa is enjoying the atmosphere at MCU Park and the big city.
And taking one for the team will never be an issue.