Mets Minor Leagues: Checking in on all four managers

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Jacob Resnick
·5 min read
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Ed Blankmeyer Cyclones manager screenshot
Ed Blankmeyer Cyclones manager screenshot

Minor league baseball is officially back, with games for the Mets’ four full-season affiliates set to begin on Tuesday.

It’s a welcome sight for the independently-operated teams and their fans, but particularly for the players and coaches who have navigated a pandemic to remain in peak physical condition and are ready to hit the ground running this week.

After the cancellation in 2020, let’s reset the organizational outlook by checking in on the managers who will oversee a system full of young talent looking to establish themselves as future cornerstones.

Triple-A Syracuse — Chad Kreuter

Now in his fifth season in the organization, Kreuter embarks on his first year as the link between the majors and the highest level of the minors. After three seasons at the helm of the St. Lucie Mets, Kreuter heads to Syracuse, where he was scheduled to serve as manager in 2020 prior to the cancellation of the minor league season.

The 16-year major league veteran still kept busy last summer and this past April, helping facilitate the Mets’ Alternate Training Site in Coney Island. This year’s group has acted as more of a de facto Triple-A team, meaning that nearly the entire roster will remain the same as Kreuter takes his squad to upstate New York.

Syracuse’s roster will be veteran-heavy, as it was in its first season as a Mets affiliate in 2019. Jerad Eickhoff and Corey Oswalt will slot into the rotation, with Arodys Vizcaino at the back of the bullpen. Brandon Drury, Wilfredo Tovar, and Johneshwy Fargas figure to be everyday players.

Double-A Binghamton — Lorenzo Bundy

After serving in various capacities on the major league coaching staffs of the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Colorado Rockies since 1998, Bundy spent two years in Mexico before joining the Mets prior to the 2020 season. The 61-year-old had managed 25 seasons in the Mexican Winter League, but coached there in the summer for the first time in 2018 before making his way back to the United States.

Bundy spent five seasons working on the staff of Don Mattingly, first with the Dodgers and then with the Marlins. "Lo is a good baseball man who has been all over the place and has done about everything,” Mattingly told the Daily News-Record in Virginia in 2017. “He is a guy you can count on. He is not going to panic. He is loyal."

Here’s an interesting connection: John Boles was a high-ranking member of the then-Florida Marlins’ front office when Bundy was their bench coach in 1998. Boles’ son, Kevin, was Bundy’s predecessor as Binghamton manager and is now the Mets’ field coordinator, overseeing the organization’s minor league instruction.

The highlight of Bundy’s squad is Mark Vientos, the only top-ten prospect in the organization to crack Binghamton’s preliminary roster. Others to watch include Ryley Gilliam, Tylor Megill, and Carlos Cortes.

High-A Brooklyn — Ed Blankmeyer

It’s hard to find a manager with as much baseball experience but as little professional baseball experience as Blankmeyer. A college baseball coach since 1980 (16 seasons as an assistant at Seton Hall and 24 seasons as the head coach at St. John’s), he embarks on his first year as a minor league manager with the Cyclones, where he would have coached in 2020 had there been a season.

Blankmeyer’s experience with young baseball players should easily translate to the pro ranks, particularly at a level where prospects are still maturing — both physically and mentally. Two of those young, highly-touted players who Blankmeyer will get to work with on a daily basis this summer are Matt Allan and Brett Baty, SNY’s second and fifth-best prospects, respectively.

“They’ve made tremendous strides over the past year, even without playing,” Blankmeyer said in a virtual news conference last week. “They’re very mature, very focused, they have an excellent work ethic, they’re great teammates. They’re really super kids.”

Joining Allan and Baty is exciting shortstop prospect Ronny Mauricio, along with key contributors from Brooklyn’s 2019 New York-Penn League championship team, like Jake Mangum and Antoine Duplantis.

Here’s a fun fact that I had to squeeze in: Blankmeyer was in the dugout for the first game in Citi Field history, when his St. John’s squad fell to Georgetown, 6-4, on March 29, 2009. Future Met Joe Panik went 2-for-4 for the Red Storm in front of over 22,000 fans.

Low-A St. Lucie — Reid Brignac

The youngest manager in the organization, Brignac’s role is his first following a 15-year professional career that concluded in 2018. After a one-year break from the game, the 35-year-old was hired to manage the Columbia Fireflies in 2020.

The Fireflies are no longer a Mets affiliate, so Brignac inherits a new team at the same level. Like Blankmeyer, at least half of Brignac’s job will involve acclimating young players to this life.

“There’s going to be a lot of uncertainty with these guys, there’s going to be a lot of teaching points,” he told the Athletic last spring. “Every mistake is a teaching opportunity to teach them in-game, in the moment and explain to them why such and such as the reason we do it that way, so they don’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over again. So I look at mistakes as a positive thing and as an opportunity for me to teach.”

Two of the Mets’ brightest young hitters, catcher Francisco Alvarez and center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, will work under Brignac’s tutelage to begin the 2021 season. Pitcher Junior Santos and infielders Shervyen Newton and Jaylen Palmer have the potential to thrust themselves into top-ten conversations, but all need further refinement with St. Lucie this summer.