Despite being nine games over .500,
the 2006 Brooklyn Cyclones season has been a virtual roller coaster, as the team has consistently traded long losing streaks
for longer winning streaks throughout the season. Through the course of this up and down season, the Mets Single-A Affiliate
hasn’t had many players they can count on when the chips are down.
Luis Rivera however, has been a pleasant
surprise for the Cyclones this season, cementing his spot in the lineup and has become a fan-favorite in the process.
Since taking over the team’s shortstop
duties for the struggling Armand Gaerlan, Rivera has been a rock, hitting .301 with 45 hits in only 149 at bats out of the
nine hole. Despite his stellar play this season for Brooklyn, things didn’t start off well for Rivera, being released from the Cubs organization
before being signed by the Mets.
“Last year I did well with them [the
Arizona Cubs, a rookie league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs],” said Rivera, who left Florida
International University after his junior year and
is still working on his Bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy. “This year I started off there [in the Cubs
Single-A Affiliate, Peoria] and I wasn’t playing everyday, I hit 2 for 25
and they released me for no reason. Then the Mets gave me an opportunity. I knew I was going to find another team because
I work hard and play hard every game.”
Why the Cubs would give up on Rivera, the
2003 Sun Belt Conference player of the year, who hit over .300 all three years at FIU and hit .282 with nine steals and nine
RBI’s in only 27 games in 2005 was beyond the Mets, who immediately signed him after the Cubs released him just 10 games
into the 2006 season.
Growing up idolizing Omar Vizquel as a
youngster in Puerto Rico, Rivera has been a godsend for the Brooklyn pitching
staff this year, many of whom are ground ball pitchers like Jake Ruckle and Eric Brown that thrive on contact. Showing remarkable
range and cannon of an arm that remind many of Vizquel, Rivera has kept the Cyclones in more games this year with his dependable
glove than his consistent bat.
“Luis has gone a great job for us,”
said Brown. “He makes hard plays look easy.”
While the praise that Rivera has garnered
from his teammates alone would help any minor leaguer develop into solid big league ballplayer, the hard working attitude
that has made him a NY-Penn League All-Star seems to be more than enough to get him wherever he wants to go in the world of
“I’ve been proud of my performance
the entire year,” said Rivera. “I’ve been working hard and that’s why I think I made the All-Star