"Coming from player development," said Collins, "this really is a great tribute to the scouts that go out there and get no glory except for reading the box scores every day and hoping that someday one of the players they sign is going to play in the big leagues. To see a lineup that's filled with players drafted, signed and developed by the Mets, I think think it's a great compliment to the organization."
The Mets, in this case, were helped to this distinction by a few injuries. A few veterans with origins outside the organization -- Andres Torres, Ronny Cedeno and Jason Bay -- are on the disabled list, and the Mets have turned to alternatives from their farm system to fill the gaps.
New York had Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center field and Jordany Valdespin making his first career start in left field on Thursday, and it had homegrown regulars Lucas Duda and Ike Davis at right field and first base. Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy and David Wright are all in the infield, and Josh Thole is catching.
Valdespin, developed as an infielder, began training in center field in Spring Training. And with Torres and Bay on the mend, Collins thought the time was ripe to get him into the lineup.
"When we started the transition to playing the outfield in Spring Training, we made sure that he took fly balls pretty much each and every day," said Collins. "We talked the other day about how we have to get him in there somehow, and it would've been easy to put him in center. But it's pretty hard to take Kirk out of center right now. So I just thought, 'He can play left field. He's athletic enough to play out there.'"
Collins came back to the concept of an all-homegrown lineup, and he used the Yankees as an example of the kind of advantage a team can get by building a healthy farm system.
"Go across town," he said. "Even though they have a lot of money and they spend on great free agents, you've got Derek [Jeter], you've got [Mariano Rivera] and you've got [Andy] Pettitte -- guys that were born and came up in that system. Look at the Rays right now. And the Twins, for all the years in recent history that they've been playing so well. It's because they've developed their own players. If you can do that, it certainly brings a lot to the organization and is a tribute to the guys in player development."