Mets cut ties with Gulf Coast League

New York will operate eight Minor League affiliates in 2012

Ruben Tejada hit .283 over 35 games with the GCL Mets as a rookie in 2007. (Danny Wild/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | December 20, 2011 6:29 PM

The New York Mets announced Tuesday that they will no longer operate a team in the Gulf Coast League.

The team had used the club's Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., as its base of operations, but cuts were necessary due to continued financial troubles.

"For 2012, we will be conducting our three Rookie League teams in Kingsport, Tenn., and out of our facility in the Dominican Republic, and will not operate a team in the Gulf Coast League," the team said in a statement.

Over the past 24 years, 102 past and current Major League players have suited up for the team.

The peak for the GCL Mets came in the mid-1990s. The 1997 team, which went 42-18, had 10 future big league pitchers and three hitting prospects who made it to "The Show." Among them were future World Series champions A.J. Burnett and Octavio Dotel and Venezuelan rookie Endy Chavez.

Edgardo Alfonzo, Jay Payton, Todd Pratt, Grant Roberts and Bill Pulsipher, all members of the 2000 Mets team that made it to the Fall Classic, came through the Gulf Coast League at some point in their development.

Current Mets Jon Niese and Josh Thole played for the 2005 team that was managed by Hall of Famer and World Series winner Gary Carter, Daniel Murphy got his start in the GCL in '06 and shortstop Ruben Tejada began his career as part of the 2007 team which featured a cameo appearance by rehabbing All-Star Pedro Martinez.

More recently, pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia threw a complete-game shutout for the team during his introduction to pro ball in 2008, and the Mets' first pick in the 2011 Draft -- 18-year-old Brandon Nimmo -- appeared in seven games this season.

Other players to come through the Mets' Gulf Coast League affiliate include Jason Isringhausen in 1992, Carlos Gomez -- the key piece in the deal that brought Johan Santana to the Mets -- in 2004, and top outfield prospect Fernando Martinez in 2006.

The Mets will operate eight Minor League affiliates in 2012. The Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A), Binghamton Mets (Double-A), St. Lucie Mets (Class A Advanced), Savannah Sand Gnats (Class A) and Brooklyn Cyclones (Class A Short-Season) have been unaffected.

The Rookie-level Kingsport Mets, first rumored as the club to be cut, will still play in the Appalachian League in 2012, and the team's two affiliates in the Dominican Summer League also will go ahead as planned. Draft picks signing out of high school or internationally traditionally start at one of these levels.

The GCL Mets finished their 2011 season with a record of 27-29 (.482), in third place and 12 games behind the East Division-leading GCL Marlins.

General manager Sandy Alderson previously said the Mets, who took out a $40 million loan earlier this month in addition to a $25 million loan in 2010 that has yet to be paid back, suffered losses around $70 million this year.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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