Edgardo Alfonzo tasted playoff success during his eight seasons with the New York Mets. Nearly two decades later, the former second baseman (affectionately known as "Fonzie") still brings a winning mindset to the franchise.
In his third season as manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ Short-Season A affiliate, he led the team to its second New York-Penn League championship, and first since the team’s inaugural campaign in the borough in 2001.
“The way the guys played this year, they deserved something special,” Alfonzo told amNewYork in a phone interview last week.
A fan favorite in Flushing from 1995-2002, Alfonzo was a major contributor for the 2000 National League champions. During that season, Alfonso posted a career-high .324 batting average and made his only All-Star Game appearance. Now as a manager, he views the thrill of playoff baseball through a new lens.
“It’s a different feeling but the same emotion,” Alfonzo said. “It doesn’t matter where you are, every time you win a championship it’s great. It’s important for the guys to compete and have that feeling. All the sacrifice you make in the minors leagues will pay off.”
Two of the big names on Brooklyn’s postseason roster were Brett Baty and Matthew Allan — the Mets’ first- and third-round picks in this year’s MLB Draft, respectively. Though the teenagers only played a few games for the Cyclones, Alfonso sees big potential for the Mets’ highly regarded prospects.
“[Allan and Baty] have a great future,” Alfonzo said. “I hope they move quickly through the organization. It was a great experience for them to come here for the playoffs and see how competitive this league is.”
The pitcher Allan, in particular, impressed Alfonso.
“I like his composure and presence on the mound," said the 45-year-old skipper. "Wherever he goes, he’s going to have success.”
During his time as a bench coach and manager for the Cyclones, which dates back to 2014, Alfonzo has watched Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario and Tomas Nido graduate from Brooklyn and work their way up to the big league club. Alfonzo saw the groundwork for Alonso’s impressive rookie year for the Mets when the slugger, who entered Monday tied for the major league lead with 47 home runs, passed through Brooklyn three years ago.
“He’s a strong dude who can go to all fields,” Alfonzo said. “At first base, it was rough, and he needed to learn a bit. But he was dedicated to improving his hitting and defense. Now, he’s one of the best hitters the Mets have.”
Alfonzo also spoke of his fondness for Rosario, whose continued development will be a key for the Mets going forward.
“[Rosario] should have been better when the season started. I was worried about him in game situations,” he said. “He did a good job of working out and putting himself in a situation to be a big reason why the team is winning now.”