PORT ST. LUCIE - Mets VP Tony Bernazard, who oversees the minors, insisted that anyone downplaying the organization's stock of young talent is off base.
"We've got talent, and more talent is coming," Bernazard said.
Bernazard has spent the past 10 days coordinating a boot camp for most the organization's top 25 prospects - with morning classes on topics such as personal finance, cooking and media relations and afternoon baseball work. The group includes 18-year-old catcher Francisco Pena, the son of former major leaguer Tony, as well as Nathan Vineyard, an '07 supplemental first-round pick from Cartersville, Ga.
"This is the best of the best of the younger guys," said Bernazard, who will welcome the rest of the Mets' minor leaguers in a week.
Bucking what had been conservatism by the organization before Bernazard's arrival, the Mets now aggressively challenge their top prospects by having them skip minor-league levels. That sometimes results in players being temporarily overmatched, such as last year's Class-A Savannah team, which went 41-94. But Bernazard said the benefits come in the longer term.
"You want to find out how players bounce back when they struggle because anybody can handle success," Bernazard explained about the motivation to challenge players.
As for continuing to bulk up the farm system, the Mets will soon open a new complex in the Dominican Republic. They also have two picks in the top 22 in June, including the 18th pick from the Braves as compensation for Atlanta signing Tom Glavine.