Mets prospects Peter Alonso and Andres Gimenez will be among the top minor leaguers participating in the team's newly-created development program starting this weekend at Citi Field.
The program, which is similar to ones run by other organizations, is designed to get the organization's elite young players feedback from big-league coaches, while also getting them also comfortable with living in and traveling around New York City.
"It's to get them assimilated, see what it's like to be in New York, the media, what a day looks like at the major-league level, interacting with the major-league staff, hands-on work with the major-league staff," JP Ricciardi explained, according to Newsday. "When you come to the big leagues, these are the things we expect you to be able to do."
In addition to Alonso and Gimenez, the program will include pitchers Justin Dunn, David Peterson and Anthony Kay, 1 7-year-old SS Ronny Mauricio, and this year's top draft pick, Jarred Kelenic.
The team has traditionally provided an instructional league at their complex in St. Lucie, Florida, where low-level minor leaguers can continue their development in September and October.
"It's just something different," Ricciardi said, further explaining the camp in New York. "I think it's a good idea and I think the kids are going to get a lot out of it."
The program will also likely put Alonso in Citi Field and the streets of New York where reporters and fans will be eager to ask him about not being promoted the Mets this season.
Alonso, 23, finished tied for the most home runs (36) hit in the minor leagues this season, during which he spent time with Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas.
In advance of rosters expanding for September, Mets co-GM John Ricco said last week that Alonso will not be promoted this season because they already have Jay Bruce, Dominic Smith and Wilmer Flores on competing for playing time at first base.
"He's having a real good year, but the way we see it, the lack of playing time is a big factor," Ricco explained. "To have Pete come up and just sit -- when we looked at it -- it didn't make a lot of sense."
Alonso's agents, Adam Karon and Tripper Johnson, immediately jumped on the Mets for their lack of action, though their client wisely supported Ricco.
Wisely, Alonso later told the NY Post that, despite what some in the media were trying to insinuate, he has no gripe with the Mets, who are aware of his desire to take the next step in his career.
"I had a private conversation with Omar and they knew how I felt, they knew I was disappointed," he explained to reporter Mike Puma. "The one thing I want to clear up is -- I kind of feel people are trying to create something between me and the Mets -- I bleed blue and orange."
The Mets can say what they want publicly, but as is common in MLB these days, Alonso is almost certainly being kept in the minors because -- by not calling him up this season -- they can delay when he is first eligible to be a free agent.
There is a similar debate going on in Toronto between the Jays, their fans and media about their best prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is playing like a future Triple Crown winner...
In other words, like Guerrero, it is more than likely we don't see Alonso on the Mets until late May next season, which is roughly the time of year when eligibility for a player's first season will have passed.
The calls for Gimenez will more loud next spring, after which the debate will quickly begin about his promotion. He's currently considered the organization's top prospect, with Alonso ranked second, according to most published top prospect lists.
According to a small survey of MLB insiders, Gimenez's stock has risen most among players in the team's farm system this season. Since being promoted to Double-A Binghamton, where he's again the youngest player in the league, the 17-year-old Gimenez hit .298 with a .356 OBP, nine doubles, one triple, and 10 steals in 32 games, though his strikeout-to-walk ratio has been a bit of concern among management.
I watched him closely during spring training where -- at the time -- he showed better pitch-selection than most hitters on the current 25-man roster. So, he's capable of better bat control...
He's also small at 5' 11", wirey at 170 pounds, and may never be a home run hitter, but he ostensibly always hits the ball square, super-hard and with a nice, compact, quick, left-handed, slap-style swing. He reminds me of a throwback, Luis Castillo in his prime and the perfect No. 2 hitter.
"Gimenez has an advanced approach at the plate," according to the scouting report on MLB.com. "He works counts and draws walks while making consistent hard contact with a simple and quick swing from the left side of the plate. ... He has above-average speed at present, which helps him on the base paths and in the field."
The team's current young shortstop, 22-year-old Amed Rosario, should probably remain at shortstop to keep his big-league development on track, despite talk of him moving to the outfield, as Kevin Kernan reported in July for the Post.
As a result, Gimenez told the Post he has recently been re-learning second base, where he played 12 times in 2016. Otherwise, like Rosario, he's been a shortstop most of his career.
"He's on their fast track," a contact with an NL East rival told me last month. "I'd say he's a year away, but that may get delayed a bit because -- with Rosario turning a corner this summer -- he's going to need most of next season to make his move to second base."
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!