For the Mets, the drastic restructuring and contraction of the minor leagues means a promotion for their closest affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Brooklyn will be the Mets’ new advanced Class A team, up from short-season Class A, the level it had played at since its inception in 2001.
The Mets revealed that development Wednesday when they announced their farm system hierarchy. Syracuse will remain the Triple-A team, and Binghamton still is Double-A. St. Lucie, previously the advanced Class A team, takes a step down to Low-A.
"We feel having a first-class player development system is crucial to achieving sustained success on the field, and all four of our affiliates are critical to that effort," Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. "We are proud to have worked with such great leadership throughout the state and in each of these communities and are thankful for their continued support."
MLB took over Minor League Baseball and is in the process of reducing the number of affiliated teams to 120 from about 160. The Mets lost two clubs: Low-A Columbia and rookie-level Kingsport. They still will field complex-based squads in the Gulf Coast League and Dominican Summer League.
Technically, the affiliates were "invited" into the new MiLB structure by the Mets on Wednesday. The clubs still have to accept the invitations. But the Mets own three of these teams — Syracuse, Brooklyn and St. Lucie — and the fourth, Binghamton, received significant political support in its bid for continued affiliation.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement released by the Mets: "After over a year of advocating to preserve the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and working directly with the Mets, Major League Baseball [MLB], the Rumble Ponies and local leaders to ensure that MLB-affiliated minor league baseball continues to be played in the Southern Tier, this result is nothing short of a home run for all — and especially for the fans here in the Southern Tier."
Ex-Met Flexen returns stateside
Former Mets righthander Chris Flexen, who played in Korea last season, agreed to a two-year, $4.75 million major-league deal with the Mariners, a source said.
Flexen, 26, had an 8.07 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Mets, frequently bounced between the majors and minors and rotation and bullpen. Last winter, he signed with the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization — and dominated.
He had a 3.01 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, covering 116 2/3 innings in 21 starts — more than 5.5 innings per appearance. He also struck out more than a batter per inning and struck out about 4.5 batters for every one he walked.
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