Hard-throwing Jenrry Mejia symbolizes what is possible from the minor league system organized, maintained, and overseen by Omar Minaya. But is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Mejia was signed by the Mets out of the Dominican Republic at the tender age of 17 — an age when most youngsters in the USA are high school juniors or just beginning their senior year. I think it’s far to say that a 17-year-old can be taught many things about the game of baseball, and that a young man of that age is perfectly capable of changing his habits, approach, and mechanics. I make this statement not by guesswork but from experience — both by adjusting my own as well as by helping others change their own. In fact, from my first-hand experience, it is possible to completely overhaul an athlete’s style, mechanics, and thought process as late as age 21; it’s not easy, but it’s possible. The older an athlete gets, the more ingrained certain habits become, and thus the more difficult it is to “break” those habits and re-learn correct ones. That’s why, generally speaking, you want to begin teaching an athlete at a young age — the younger, the better.
In the case of 17-year-old Jenrry Mejia, the Mets had a golden opportunity to develop a raw, exciting talent — to mold him as they see fit, into what they believe is the ideal pitcher.