In the history of the New York Mets, the franchise has employed six players who in their debut season were the youngest in the National League.
A New York Mets comment we often hear is how this organization seems to rarely produce young superstars. At least one National League rival always seems to promote a kid below the drinking age. In 2018, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto both fit this description.
Though it may not feel it, the Mets have employed the National League’s youngest player six times. Of course, youth doesn’t always translate into success in his rookie year or even beyond.
As of 2019, these six Mets were the youngest players in NL for a year.
1962 – Ed Kranepool, 17
What were you up to when you were 17? Ed Kranepool spent his final months playing for the Mets.
Kranepool debuted for the 1962 Mets as a 17-year-old in September. Although he only played 3 games, he was the league’s youngest player during the inaugural Mets campaign.
Kranepool’s MLB career started much sooner than most. Unlike most in franchise history, every game was spent with the Mets.
How many people can say they kept the same job from the age of 17 for the next 18 years and loved it?
1965 – Jim Bethke, 18
Blink and you may have missed the MLB career of pitcher Jim Bethke. In 1965, he debuted with the Mets at the age of 18. It was the only season he played in the major leagues.
This is somewhat surprising considering Bethke went 2-0 with 4.28 ERA in 25 appearances. He did hang around in the minor leagues for a few more seasons, pitching well in relief mostly at the Double-A level.
There’s nothing about his performance that I can reason why he never pitched in the big leagues again. Nevertheless, he has a spot in MLB record books as the youngest National League player in the one year he saw MLB action.