The New York Mets will go with former St. John’s University Manager Ed Blankmeyer as the leader of the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2020. What can we expect from him?
The New York Mets embraced what is clearly becoming an emerging trend. On Monday, January 6, 2020, it was announced that St John’s University manager Ed Blankmeyer was stepping down from his position to take on a major role with the Mets organization, which included filling the Brooklyn Cyclones manager position vacated by Edgardo Alfonzo just months after he guided the Cyclones to the 2019 New York-Penn League championship.
Alfonzo, best known for his Mets tenure from 1995-2002. reportedly stepped down after disagreements over his future with the Mets organization with team leadership, though he is expected to remain with the team in an ambassadorial position.
Blankmeyer’s hiring is the latest in what is an emerging trend; MLB organizations have started to dip into the college coaching ranks for coordinator or coach type roles within their organization.
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Though the Mets had initially tried this approach when they attempted to lure University of Michigan pitching coach Chris Fetter for their major league pitching coach position, they ultimately opted to hire Jeremy Hefner.
Hefner, a disciple of former University of Arkansas pitching coach and current Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson, happened to be one of the first college to pro coaches when he was hired at the end of the 2018 season.
Of all the college-to-pro coach moves that have been made this offseason, Blankmeyer is arguably the most high profile coach to make the jump. The 65-year-old had served as St John’s head coach since 1996.
In his time there, he compiled a record of 829-499-4, guided the Red Storm to six Big East Conference regular-season titles with five Conference Tournament championships, took the team to the NCAA baseball tournament ten times, including an appearance in the 2012 Super Regional, and took home a combined twelve Big East and ABCA Northeast Coach of the Year awards.
Blankmeyer’s mark on the pro game is also well-established as over 100 of his players were drafted or signed as free agents, with four playing in the Major Leagues at the conclusion of the 2019 season, including 2011 first-round pick and 2019 Met Joe Panik. The news of Blankmeyer’s hire was broken first by D1Baseball’s Kendall Rogers:
Blankmeyer’s hiring is ideal for the Mets in multiple ways. First and foremost, the Mets have done a surprisingly fantastic job this past decade when it has come to drafting: Baseball America‘s 2010’s draft ranking retrospective listed the Mets with the fifth-best performance with a combined WAR of 93.9. That trend is likely going to continue, and in Blankmeyer, the Mets have someone who can help ease the transition from college to the pros.
As a college coach, Blankmeyer had to balance recruiting at a disadvantage; though St. John’s is one of the more reputable programs in the Big East, the team does play in the Northeast, spending the early part of their season on the road in the warm climate and recruiting primarily from weaker talent pools in the Northeast region. Couple that with developing his student-athletes, and competing in the Big East, and Blankmeyer has done an admirable job in running the St. John’s baseball team.
As a pro coach, Blankmeyer’s experience in player development will help him immensely as the team prioritizes player development ahead of winning in the minors. evidenced by their dismissal of AAA manager Wally Backman back in 2016.
Another advantage of hiring Blankmeyer is his familiarity with the region; he did after all coach seven minutes away from Citi Field. St. John’s is also a 36-minute drive from MCU park down the Sun Belt Parkway.
The early returns of college coaches making the professional jump have yielded positive results, and should Blankmeyer prove he is the ideal successor to Alfonzo a year after he took the team to the championship, it is likely more college coaches may explore avenues to roles in professional organizations.
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Obviously, it’s hard to tell what to expect of the Cyclones when they won’t have a filled out roster until June, but how Blankmeyer runs the team should make for an interesting storyline within the Mets organizational pipeline.