Teenage Mets prospect has become the early highlight of the 2023 trade deadline

The 17-year-old infielder is off to a hot start for the FCL Mets.
Washington Nationals v New York Mets
Washington Nationals v New York Mets / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages

The New York Mets had very mixed results during the Billy Eppler era. The team won 101 games in 2022 and seemed to be built to win a World Series championship in 2023. However, the Mets only won 75 games and have a completely different perspective on their ballclub in 2024.

In just a short stint as Mets general manager, Eppler had two trade deadlines that were starchly different from one another. In 2022, Eppler went 'halfway in' by trading lower-level prospects for the likes of Tyler Naquin, Darin Ruf, and Daniel Vogelbach. In 2023, Steve Cohen gave Eppler the go-ahead to blow up the roster and build himself a farm system. In most of those trades, the Mets seem to have gotten equal value, such as turning Justin Verlander into Ryan Clifford and Drew Gilbert. However, there is one transaction that looks to be highway robbery.

Jeremy Rodriguez has become the highlight of the 2023 trade deadline

While Eppler can be criticized for most of his decisions, this trade looks to be his best. The Mets traded a rental outfielder in Tommy Pham to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 17-year-old infielder Jeremy Rodriguez. In 51 games played last season, Rodriguez hit .293 with 3 home runs and 33 RBI. He also stole 19 bases and had a keen eye at the plate, walking 33 times in 202 plate appearances.

Rodriguez has left no doubt about his 2023 performance. Normally, players moving from the Dominican Summer League to the Florida Complex League struggle out of the gate. This is understandable considering most of these players have never left their home country and come to the United States before.

This has not been the case for Rodriguez as he recorded four hits against the FCL Nationals just the other night. He has also continued to draw walks at a high clip as well as be a stolen base threat. The Mets have also asked Rodriguez to increase his versatility as he has played all of shortstop, second base, and third base.

The Mets' scouting department deserves all the credit for finding a young and budding infielder deep in the Diamondbacks system. Normally, it is the Mets who trade players in rookie ball for backup players. Remember they traded Kenedy Corona for Jake Marisnick? Or Endy Rodriguez for Joey Lucchesi?

As of now, it seems the Mets' fortunes have turned thanks to this decision by Eppler. Rodriguez was rewarded for his efforts by making Fangraph's pre-season top 101 prospects list. While this may seem aggressive considering he is still just 17 years old, getting national attention like this is not by mistake. It means Rodriguez is certainly talented and will climb the minor league ladder rather quickly just like Francisco Alvarez did.