By Mike Steffanos
As the Mets are in the midst of playing the rubber game in Philadelphia (not very well, sadly), players who might be part of the future of this organization are getting their seasons underway. Today is the first game for all of the full-season Mets farm clubs: Buffalo (AAA), Binghamton (AA), St. Lucie (A) and Savannah (A).
Under Omar Minaya, the Mets were infamous for really pushing some of their prospects to levels that their age, experience and past success didn't seem to dictate. While management claimed that it was a positive thing to challenge these players, the consensus around baseball was that the Mets were hindering the development of their prospects by pushing them too hard.
I couldn't help but wonder watching this from afar if at least part of the reason in pushing these kids up the ladder wasn't to cover up the fact that there weren't many solid prospects close to major league ready in the Mets system.
Every year it seemed there was some big surprise with kids receiving promotions they just didn't earn, or last year's experiment with Jenrry Mejia as a reliever in the majors. Not too many of the prospects seemed to flourish in this system, although some seemed to acquit themselves well after initial struggles.
This year the surprises were few and mild, such as Corey Vaughn opening with Savannah at a level lower then was speculated.
The philosophy of the new regime seems to be a more traditional one of allowing players to earn promotions with success. In my opinion this is a very good development that can only help produce better results in the long run. While minor league baseball is primarily about development, enjoying actual success is an important part of successful development.
A small side benefit of these affiliates having rosters of players that actually belong at that level might be a few more wins for these clubs. While winning should never be the primary objective in the minors, all things being equal I'd rather see prospects playing for a winning team than one that is getting their asses handed to them game after game.