Cessa's Conversion Going Well

Cessa has allowed 2 runs or less in each start

BROOKLYN, NY - Luis Cessa signed as a minor league free agent in 2008 at only sixteen years old. Prior to his 2011 season with the DSL Mets, Cessa had been converted from an infielder to a pitcher. In one year, he has completely transitioned into a consistent starting pitcher for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Prior to this season, Cessa's first season with the Cyclones, he played for both the DSL Mets and the GCL Mets. He worked mainly out of the bullpen after being transferred to the GCL Mets but earned an ERA of 3.66 over the span of 32 innings, collecting a total of 23 strikeouts. He used those experiences to make improvements during the offseason.

"For three months, I was in Port St. Lucie," Cessa said, "just preparing for the season, doing all of the workouts to get better and to prepare for this season. I wanted to do better than I did before."

During the offseason, Cessa, 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, worked on his stamina and becoming stronger to prepare for his season with the Cyclones. Rich Donnelly acknowledged that Cessa has to work on his stamina above everything else.

"Physically, we were pitching against each other in Spring Training and Extended," Cessa said. "We pitched in squads and there were designated teams. We did a lot of strength training and conditioning, too."

"He's working on his stamina," Donnelly said. "He isn't a big, strong kid. He pitched and got tired in the fifth inning against the Staten Island Yankees [July 21] and we got him out of there in the sixth.

"He got tired. I even asked him if he was tired and he said yes. He has to work on his stamina. He runs pole to pole after he pitches.

"He has never been in this situation before in his life, where he has to pitch on a regular basis and throw 70-80 pitches. So that's really what we're working on with him, getting his stamina up so he can pitch six or seven innings and not be too tired."

Two starts ago against Staten Island Yankees on July 21 proved that he has improved since last season. Over the course of 35.2 innings, Cessa has collected 23 strikeouts, allowed eleven earned runs, and has an ERA of 2.78 compared to allowing 15 runs and having an average ERA of 3.19 in the 2011 season.

"I was pretty consistent against the Yankees," Cessa said. "My strongest pitch is my fastball and I want to work on my slider the most."

Marc Valdez spoke of Cessa's most recent presence as consistent.

"He has gained confidence with his fastball and throwing it inside to right-handed hitters," Valdez said. "In Extended, we were trying to get him to be more aggressive with his fastballs and the last time he pitched against the Staten Island Yankees, he didn't throw as many in there as we wanted, but he was very consistent as far as throwing strikes goes."

Valdez and Donnelly have noticed Cessa's improvements in his pitching and expanded on what he commands while on the mound.

"Luis has learned how to command his fastball," Donnelly said, "and how to get strikes. He's learned how to not walk people."

"He throws 92/94 with [a] curveball and changeup," Valdez said. "His curveballs, we're working on them to get them a little sharper and a little better. His changeup, he throws it behind in the count, when he's two balls, one strike, sometimes when he's 2-0. He's really come along with that pitch being that he is a converted third baseman."

Cessa maintains a positive mental attitude when out on the field and while working off the field in order to improve. Valdez lays mention to Cessa's attitude, considering it to be one of his greatest strengths as a pitcher.

"I want to go out and pitch good games and pitch consistently," Cessa said. "I really want to improve and get to the next level. I'm doing everything I can to help the team."

"His mental focus on the mound is his greatest strength," Valdez said. "He's a very strong competitor from the mound, he doesn't give in much, and that's very good to have, especially when you're so young and inexperienced."

Cessa had never pitched before the 2011 season and for a time frame of one year, he has shown remarkable talent on the mound. Donnelly and Valdez take into consideration this transition, but they feel that his transition could not have been any smoother.

"He was a kid who didn't hit well but had a great arm," Donnelly said, "so they put him on the mound. Nobody would have known that he was an infielder, that's how great his transition has been. That's how far he's come in one year."

"We definitely like his arm," Valdez said. "He throws 92/94 miles per hour. He's really pushed the role and has taken well to the mound."

"I miss hitting a little bit," Cessa said, "but pitching is my key to getting better and really advancing."

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