Gregory Warming Up to Brooklyn

Gregory is making a switch to the outfield

BROOKLYN, NY - The Cyclones' Alex Gregory has a lot on his plate during his rookie season. First, he had to adapt to professional ball, but second and more important is that he is learning a new position at his highest level yet. Those ingredients can be tricky for any first-year player, but Gregory is taking it in stride as he settles in to the environment in Brooklyn.

For the Brooklyn Cyclones, opening weekend in 2009 will mean a lot of things. For the Mets' New York-Penn League affiliate, the Cyclones not only look to improve upon their 45-30 finish last year, but their team must recover from losing top players in Brad Holt, Wilmer Flores, Ike Davis, Reese Havens and Jenry Mejia and the drastic changes within the coaching staff.

The Cyclones have restocked their roster with a barrage of young talent, and will likely feature a lineup that showcases as many as 14 of this year's top draft picks. For the team, there are big gaps to be filled, and they will look to Alex Gregory in particular, the 17th round pick out of Radford University (VA) to provide the thump in the middle of the order
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Gregory, the 6-foot, 210-pound outfielder is a workhorse in the Daniel Murphy sense, and seems to have come dangerously close to perfecting his bat in college. A four-year player, he became the only batter in the Big South to ever record three consecutive seasons batting over .400.

For comparison, the only other player in all of college who accomplished this feat was Dustin Ackley, the Mariners 2nd overall pick in the 2009 draft. What is most remarkable about Gregory's four years in school was his ability to raise his game every year and make significant improvements both hitting and in the field.

After not having been been drafted in 2008, it was Gregory's work ethic along with his powerful bat that have the Mets thinking they may have a future gem in their outfield in Brooklyn. Prior to Friday night's game a calm Gregory patrolled the Cyclones dugout.

"Being here is an unbelievable experience, watching all these people roll in and being able to be a part of it is unbelievable," he said. " I am not really nervous, I am just trying to think about it as just another game, but of course it will be a little bit different when I step out and look into the stands. This will definitely be the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of," he said.

The 22-year old was not given a chance to play in the Cyclones' first game of the season, but first year Manager Pedro Lopez is confident in Gregory's ability.

"Right now I am still trying to find out some things about these guys. Most of them have only been working out with us for a couple of days now," said Lopez.

"I just want to give those guys a break and let them get accommodated with the team and some of the fundamentals we do here. We want to break him in easily," Lopez continued.

But for Gregory it is not as if he will be able to immediately step into a familiar role with the team. The Mets organization has asked that he make a switch from being a corner infielder and take a step back into the outfield. Gregory and Lopez agree that he figures to be used mostly in left, but their plan is to get him accustomed to growing more comfortable in the outfield.

"It has been easier than I thought it would be as of right now. I have been getting a lot of work out there and while it is definitely tough making the transition," Gregory stated.

"The switch from the infield going to the outfield, I feel I have been doing alright right now getting balls and getting reads. I feel I should be fine when I finally get out there".

"What has been tough is dealing with the water for now, just because I have only been out here a few days and have not yet figured out how the ball carries. I am sure to get a better idea as the season goes on and as I field more balls from the air."
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The manager had a similar feeling adding, "I don't think his transition to the outfield will be at all a problem. I am just hoping he hits well and duplicates what he did his last couple of years in college," Lopez detailed.

"He is a proven hitter who has hit 400 and hopefully he will do the same for us. As far as the outfield play, just like everyone else as long as we work on it he will be okay."

Meanwhile, in the batters box no one seems to have any concerns about the righty picking up where he left off. Gregory finished the 2009 season batting .407 with 10 homeruns and 42 RBIs to go along with 13 extra base hits, a 655 slugging percentage and an OBP above .500.

Gregory is comfortable using a wood bat, already having gained experience from three years of summer ball.

In that regard, Gregory stated, "I have no concerns with the new bat, I just want to start putting it to good use."

"Right now I will just be taking things in stride and seeing how it goes. Obviously it will be a little of a transition for me as far as talent, seeing different arms and power arms on the mound. I will just have to take every day as it comes and the same for my at-bats," he said.

Lopez concluded, "I think he will be a middle of the order type guy, but we will still have to mix and match and try and get the best lineup out there. For right now I will ease him out and see where he feels the most comfortable out there."

Gregory has already been with the team now for about a week, and as long as he plays comfortable and within himself there is no reason for the 22 year old not to have the type of breakout year that 2008 draft pick Bradley Holt had while playing his first year of professional ball for the Mets in Brooklyn.

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