After a one-year hiatus, the Gulf Coast League Mets returned to action in 2013, once again playing out of the Mets Spring Training headquarters in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The cash-strapped franchise had cut the program in a cost-saving maneuver but GM Sandy Alderson saw the need to reinstate the GCL Mets stating "The new CBA has accelerated the signing of players from the draft. And with the continuation of two teams in the Dominican Summer League, we need more rookie level roster space for our young players. We are happy to be back in the Gulf Coast League while retaining our affiliation in Kingsport of the Appalachian League." (Amazin Avenue, November 2012)
The Gulf Coast League features 35-man rosters and places limits on players per team over twenty and twenty-one years of age. Most players are in their first year of professional baseball and rosters are comprised of draft picks and undrafted free agents from all over the Western Hemisphere. Seasons are only sixty games long and runs from late June to the end of August. Due to it's location, the GCL Mets often benefit from MLB rehab assisgnments, as big leaguers who are out with long-term injuries will report to St. Lucie to rehab and later play in GCL games. This season, Travis d'Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Justin Turner, Ruben Tejada, Scott Atchison, Jonathon Niese, Tim Byrdak, Jenrry Mejia and Frank Francisco all appeared in games for the GCL Mets, who were managed by first-year skipper and former Minor Leaguer Jose Carreno.
The Mets awarded their annual Sterling Award (Top organizational player at each Minor League level) to Dominic Smith, the Mets first round (17 overall) pick in the 2013 MLB Entry Draft. Upon signing with the Mets, Smith reported to St. Lucie and went on to hit .287 in 48 games while adding 22 RBI and three homers. Another position player to watch for is Jhoan Urena, an undrafted 19-year old third baseman out of the Dominican Republic who led the club with a .299 average and was named to Baseball America's top-ten GCL sleepers list.
On the mound, Octavio Acosta was dominant in his first season in America, after spending the last two on the Mets Dominican Summer Ball squads. Acosta finished with an incredible 5.00 K/BB ratio, fanning 40 batters in 43.1 IP while only walking eight. The righty finished with a 1-2 record and a 2.28 ERA, best amongst GCL Mets starters. Acosta was promoted to the St. Lucie Mets (A) where he made his final two starts of the season, going 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA. Also of note, twenty-year old Gaby Almonte posted a solid 2.31 ERA with a 3-2 record in ten games (seven starts). Almonte also spent 2011 and 2012 with the Mets Dominican Summer Ball teams.
While the ballclub finished fourth in the East division with a 20-40 record, the league is primarily about development and preparing these youngsters for life as a professional baseball player in America. It's an asset for the organization to have and will undoubtedly help as the Mets franchise continues to rebuild from within.
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