The New York Mets, aka Los Mets, are among the six Major League Baseball teams to offer their young Latino prospects — primarily ones from the Dominican Republic — high school degree programs. Two or three more teams plan to join in, USA Today reports.
"I gotta tell you, we're working with a new generation of baseball players. You see in the past that players just carry a bat and a glove and a helmet on the baseball field and in the academy," said Juan Henderson, who runs the Mets' Dominican academy. "Those years, I think, are going to be pretty much over. Now they also do that, but they also carry books, they also carry an iPad, they also carry a laptop."
Having a degree is a clear benefit to the teenage athletes, who may not ever see a major league at-bat, and Mets officials said they consider the extra training off the field to be a competitive advantage that makes players more coachable. Hansel Robles, a 25-year-old Mets relief pitcher who graduated from the franchise's academy in 2010, said he'd like to see every team take up the practice.
"You can't stress ... enough how if the baseball thing doesn't work out then you have nothing left to fall back on," the Dominican-born Robles said. "If you do this, you can go to college and you can have a future."