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Mets sleeper prospect who can make an impact in 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 08: The The New Era cap, Rawlings glove and Nike sunglasses of Jay Bruce #19 of the New York Mets in the dugout during a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at FITTEAM Ball Park of the Palm Beaches on March 8, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 08: The The New Era cap, Rawlings glove and Nike sunglasses of Jay Bruce #19 of the New York Mets in the dugout during a spring training game against the Washington Nationals at FITTEAM Ball Park of the Palm Beaches on March 8, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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A sleeper prospect who can make an impact for the 2021 New York Mets is Thomas Szapucki.

Since 2019, the New York Mets have seen multiple rookies make an instant impact in the majors. As all of baseball knows, first baseman Pete Alonso made that day one impact, earning an All-Star bid on his way to leading the league in home runs and winning NL rookie of the year. Then this past season, pitcher David Peterson and shortstop Andres Gimenez flashed potential to crack the starting lineups in 2021. As well-known and highly touted prospects, their debuts were highly anticipated.

However, that will not be the case for any Mets prospects in 2021. With a rather thin farm system and most of their prospects being years away from hitting the majors, chances are the Mets will be without one of these instant impact rookies… that is unless a sleeper prospect emerges…

And that is where 24-year old lefty Thomas Szapucki comes in.

Szapucki’s Road to the Majors

A Florida commit prior to joining the Mets, Thomas Szapucki has always flashed his potential. Selected in the fifth round of the 2015 amateur draft, he quickly rose in the Mets system, even earning a Baseball America Rookie All-Star honor in 2016. Though, it was not long after that injuries began haunting him.

First came back issues and shoulder problems, though he was able to power through and perform well when on the mound. Except prior to 2018, Szapucki underwent Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss 22 months while recovering. Just like that, the southpaw became a question mark as he faded in the farm system.

That was until 2019 when Szapucki not only returned, but he showed out. Over 61.2 innings pitched, he posted a 2.63era to go with 72 strikeouts as a supplanted himself back among the top Mets prospects. In 2020, he earned a spot on the 40-man roster and is bound to make his debut in 2021.

How He Fits the Team

While Szapucki’s career has been plagued by various injuries, that might just be what gets him his shot in the majors.

For years now, the Mets’ starting rotation has seen pitchers go on IL for long periods of time. Thus, exposing their lack of pitching depth. And depending on the outcome of free agency, it could happen once again in 2021.

Noah Syndergaard is expected to miss Opening Day as he continues to rehab following Tommy John surgery. Who knows where Marcus Stroman will be having opted out of last season, and even Jacob deGrom missed time last season. As for the other guys competing for rotation spots, such as Steven Matz and Robert Gsellman, they too have had their fair share of IL stints.

That being said, Szapucki is a name to watch in 2021 because of his ability to quickly step into the starting lineup. He has little left to prove in the minors and has the pitching arsenal to make it as a starter in the majors. And at the very least, Szapucki can make his mark as a long reliever in the bullpen.

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This season, it will not be a matter of if Szapucki makes his debut this season, it is a matter of when.

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