Mets prospect Thomas Szapucki has the potential for a breakout season
New York Mets prospect Thomas Szapucki missed all of 2018 due to Tommy John Surgery. Seemingly healthy, he’s a candidate for a breakout year in 2020.
The New York Mets have far fewer notable pitching prospects than they did even two years ago. Many have been traded by the Brodie Van Wagenen regime. Few have risen to become notable prospects who look ready to make a major league impact.
Entering 2020, the team doesn’t have any obvious candidate capable of joining the rotation or even bullpen within the next season. There are, however, some men who could have breakout years in 2020. One of them includes lefty Thomas Szapucki.
The 23-year-old lefty from Toms River is a 2015 fifth-round draft pick who has, unfortunately, suffered through some injuries in the early stages of his career. Szapucki missed all of 2018 due to Tommy John Surgery.
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In four seasons in the minors, Szapucki has only reached 145 innings pitched. Although the experience isn’t there, the talent looks like it may.
Szapucki has a 2.42 ERA and a strikeout rate of 11.7 per nine innings. Most of this has been done as a starting pitcher with a handful of relief appearances. The impressive early start has me wondering if he’ll become a breakout prospect in this coming season.
Some more good news for Szapucki is that he’ll have every opportunity to do so. The Mets have no reason to block him from any opportunities at rising through the system quickly. He’s likely to begin the year in Double-A where he made one start last year. By midseason, he could find his way up to Syracuse.
Szapucki hasn’t caught on like some other Mets pitching prospects in recent seasons. It’s understandable. Until last year he never had a season with more than nine starts.
If all goes well in 2020, he should have plenty more. While an innings limit almost feels guaranteed, he’ll hopefully surpass the 61.2 frames reached this past season.
Over the last decade, the Mets have been fortunate to have some big contributors rise up through the minors. Jacob deGrom is the most successful by miles. For every deGrom, there have been plenty of duds. Either from poor performance or injury, many Mets prospects with high hopes for a promising future have fallen flat before even reaching the big leagues.
There doesn’t appear to be any rush to get Szapucki to the big leagues. There’s not really much room for him on the big league roster in 2020. I expect this coming year is an opportunity to stretch his arm out a little more and see what he can do over a longer haul.
Whether it’s 80, 90, or even 100+ innings from Szapucki in 2020, he’s a less-talked-about Mets minor leaguer I expect plenty of people to get to know more about this year.
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Eventually, a spot in the Mets rotation and bullpen will open up. The timing is right for Szapucki to capture one of those roles.