If you're someone who follows baseball pretty closely, you're probably aware that big changes are coming to the minor league affiliates of major league teams. The Mets used to have five A Ball affiliates, ranging from rookie level up to advanced A. Next year there will be only two, which will lead to some interesting choices in what to do with many of their young players. Both Sandy Alderson and Steve Cohen have stressed the importance going forward of developing homegrown talent, and new GM Jared Porter spent a good chunk of his career with the Red Sox, a model large market club when it comes to scouting and development. They're all going to face a new challenge of developing talent under the new minor league setup, and with a prospect base who missed out on an entire minor league season in 2020.
For a while we were hearing that Major League clubs were only going to be allowed to have 150 minor leaguers under contract, which was significant because that works out to about 30 per team. With injuries, that would likely necessitate having almost all of the players assigned to one of the five teams. But Baseball America is reporting that the limit will be 180 players, and that could be significant for a team like the Mets who wishes to maximize their player development in order to sustain competitiveness year after year. With three fewer options to assign players at the A ball level, it's likely that there will be prospects that don't perfectly fit into the 2 remaining levels. Now teams can work with some of these players within their complex rather than try to pigeonhole everyone onto one of those two clubs.
I could foresee further advantages where a player is really struggling and the team could pull him back into the complex for a time for some intensive one-on-one work. This seems preferable to me to the old method of leaving the player to figure it out while continuing to play games. So, while I won't say the minor league contraction is a good thing for all of the places losing their affiliated team, I do think the new system could be well utilized by the type of smart organization that the Mets are working hard to be. Still, undoubtedly there will be times when a team is going to struggle to get playing time for everyone who needs it with the reduction in teams, particularly if it's a club that drafts and develops really well, which I hope is what the Mets become in the not too distant future.
I'm really psyched for this upcoming minor league season to see how the Mets manage their prospects. In 2020 they were able to utilize the alternate site to work with a handful of players. They also ran something in their complex after the season for a bunch of them, but I heard it was cut somewhat short thanks to our old friend the coronavirus. So, on top of the challenge of figuring out how to get by with three fewer teams, there will be the added complications on plugging whatever holes this past year left in their development. It will definitely be fascinating to watch.
I flipped on SNY this evening to watch some of Jared Porter's press conference and surprised myself by sticking around to watch the whole thing. I keep reading nothing but glowing praise for the guy, and I thought he carried himself very well during the questioning. Of course, that really doesn't mean anything for how he would do the job, but he said all of the right things, and that's really all that matters for now.
I do have to say that I was amused and delighted when the man who worked for both the Red Sox and Cubs said that he thought Citi Field was the best ballpark in baseball. Suck on that, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. LOL.
I know that I'm more of a baseball nerd than most, but it was still quite a big deal for me to even tune in a Mets press conference, much less stay on for the duration. It's been many years since I've been inspired to do that.
It's amazing how different everything feels about the Mets now. For so long under the Wilpons it really did feel as if nothing was going to change, hence it didn't matter who they hired or even who they signed. It honestly feels like a privilege to be a fan of this club now, where you can reasonably expect good things to happen and you have some confidence that the right people are being put into place to make all of these decisions. I'm sure that I won't agree with every decision Alderson, Porter and the rest make, but I honestly no longer labor with the constant sensation of head-shaking bewilderment that characterized the last years of the Wilpons.
I had a long day today, so I'm going to check out for now. Please stay safe, be well and take care. Welcome to New York, Jared Porter. Now show us what you can do.
Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos