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August 15, 2008 / Sports / Brooklyn Cyclones / Ups & Downs

Cyclones send three to All-Star game!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Three Cyclones — the righty pitchers Brad Holt, Yury Santana and Chris Schwinden — went to the New York–Penn League All-Star team on Tuesday night.

Few starters earned the nod as much as Holt. Despite a slow start for the Brooks, Holt, whom the Mets drafted between the first and second rounds this year, has rallied back to a 4–3 record and a 1.98 ERA. In 54-2/3 innings, Holt has allowed 34 hits, while striking out 69 batters — a league-leading stat. Opponents are batting a mere .178 against him.

“I didn’t anticipate making the All-Star team,” said Holt of his selection. “I was just trying to concentrate on my pitching.”

He certainly did that, said Cyclones’ pitching coach Hector Berrios.

“He’s been dominating the league,” Berrios said. “He has a power fastball, and he’s really taking instruction well, especially the last game when he was using is change up.”

Santana might never have made the All-Star team were it not for his conversion from shortstop into pitcher. His nine saves puts him in the elite of the league and he hasn’t even allowed a hit in 12 of his 19 appearances. Over his last eight games, he’s 1–0 with a 0.00 ERA.

“I never made a pro All-Star game as an infielder,” said Santana, who played infield with the Cyclones in 2005. “I’ve been working with Hector on my slider, and that has helped me.”

Schwinden has also come out of nowhere to be one of the Cyclones’ most-reliable starters. Drafted in the 22nd round this year, the Fresno Pacific University star didn’t even join the Cyclones rotation until Aug. 1. But since then, he’s since gone 3-0, allowing just three earned runs. His overall 1.31 ERA is second in the league by just .02. Despite only pitching 48 innings, he’s tied for seventh in the league in strikeouts and is second in the league with a 0.92 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). In his Aug. 7 start against Lowell, Schwinden tossed seven one-hit innings, and struck out 12 — the best start of the year for him.

“Schwinden has been phenomenal,” said Berrios. “He’s a strike thrower who knows how to put hitters away. He’s a pleasant surprise who sneaked up on everybody.”

Though it’s traditional at All-Star time to bemoan how many position players got snubbed for the honors, the Cyclones actually don’t have anyone in the starting lineup worthy of an All-Star nomination.

But the pitching staff, which has been behind the team’s recent surge, has at least two others who could have easily joined the fun in Troy.

Reliever Roy Merritt has been an attack dog all year, going after hitters with sometimes overpowering stuff. Merritt is 1–0 with a 1.95 ERA. He’s allowed just 16 hits against 38 Ks in a mere 27-2/3 innings.

And reliever Jimmy Johnson is 4–0 with a 1.38 ERA. In his 26 innings, he’s allowed just 15 hits while striking out 33.

“Whatever you do, don’t say that I said I was ‘snubbed!’” Johnson told The Brooklyn Paper’s Eye of the Storm coverage team after it was suggested that he was, indeed, snubbed.

“I’m just focussing on doing my best and haven’t even looked at the other guys on the All-Star team besides my teammates — and all of them deserved it,” he said.

In the game itself, the National League All-Star affiliates scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat their American League counterparts 4-3 at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in upstate Troy, home of the Tri-City Valley Cats.

And the Cyclones players did themselves proud.

Holt entered a scoreless game to start the third inning — and he gave up no hits while striking out two.

Santana pitched a perfect eighth inning to help hold the National League’s lead, though neither he nor Holt figured in the decision.

Schwinden did not pitch because he started the Cyclones’ game on Sunday.

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