The Cyclones kick off their 11th quest for a New York–Penn League championship tonight with a new manager, an almost completely new roster, and the same old rivalry with the hated State Island Yankees.
The season-opening series against the Baby Bombers, who split the 14-game season series last year, opens on the road on Friday night, but returns to the friendly confines of MCU Park in Coney Island for Saturday and Sunday night games.
Here’s what to look for:
• Skipper Rich Donnelly has taken over from beloved manager Wally Backman, who led the team to a division title and a 51-24 mark last season. Donnelly’s pitching coach is former Met great Frank Viola, and his batting coach is former Cyclone Bobby Malek.
• The highest draft pick on the Cyclones’ just-published roster is infielder Daniel Muno, who was nabbed in the eighth round out of Fresno State. Returning Cyclones include third baseman Brian Harrison and infielder Jet Butler, who knows how to embarrass the Yankees.
• This year’s lineup features some fresh offensive talent, thanks to powerhouse sluggers Travis Taijeron, an All-American whose .392 batting average topped the California Collegiate Athletic Association last year; and Jonathan Clark, who batted .323 in his junior season at Lee University. Clark also has a world of speed.
• On Sunday, the Yankees will throw a ringer — literally, as Major Leaguer Phil Hughes does a rehab stint.
Brooklyn Cyclones vs. Staten Island Yankees at MCU Park [1904 Surf Ave. at W. 17th Street in Coney Island, (718) 449-8497], June 18, 6:30 pm; June 19, 5 pm. For info, visit www.brooklyncyclones.com.