For now they are virtual nobodies, anonymous rank-and-file minor-leaguers, lottery tickets in a wildly unpredictable professional baseball ecosystem.
But general manager Billy Eppler hopes they will be part of a better tomorrow — a very distant tomorrow — for the Mets.
Infielder Marco Vargas and catcher Ronald Hernandez are the newest members of the organization, teenage prospects acquired late Thursday night in the trade that sent closer David Robertson to the Marlins. Although they are about as far away from the majors as prospects can be, Eppler described theirs as talent to dream on.
The Mets are looking to add more minor-leaguers ahead of the 6 p.m. Tuesday trade deadline, too. Eppler said he is continuing to listen — with other teams actively inquiring — to offers for members of the Mets.
“Our farm system’s got a ways to go,” Eppler said early Friday morning. “We’ve had some drafts that I think a lot of people feel good with. But we have to continue to add. If we’re going to go where we need to go in the long term, we’re going to need an upper-tier farm system to get there.”
Vargas, 18, signed with the Marlins for just $17,500 out of Mexico in May 2022. MLB Pipeline ranked him as Miami’s No. 18 prospect but slotted him in as No. 6 in the Mets’ system.
Hernandez, a 19-year-old Venezuelan, was No. 21 on the Marlins’ list and No. 17 on the Mets’. He received an $850,000 signing bonus in January 2021.
Both had been assigned to the Marlins’ affiliate in the rookie-level Florida Complex League, the lowest level of minor-league baseball in the United States. Eppler noted that because the Mets and Marlins play each other so often at that level, they are deeply familiar with each other’s systems.
Vargas is a shortstop “right now,” Eppler said. He also has played second base and third base. Hitting well in the FCL — an environment in which publicly available statistics mean little — he had a .283/.457/.442 slash line.
Notably, though, Vargas had 22 strikeouts to 38 walks. Eppler praised his “elite” contact and swing decision-making skills. He also has above-average exit velocity, according to Eppler.
Hernandez was in the FCL for a second year in a row. After struggling in 2022, he had a .298/.464/.452 slash line this year. Eppler highlighted his above-average arm strength and “really good decision-making in the batter’s box.”
Whether Vargas and/or Hernandez ever become relevant to the major-league Mets is a mystery that will require years to solve. But Eppler decided their potential was worth more than two additional months of Robertson in a lost season.
“The value of the players that we acquired exceeded our expectations,” he said.
As manager Buck Showalter put it, trying to positively spin the trade of Robertson: “Everybody here playing was a minor-leaguer at one time, right?”