NY Mets Friday Farming: Thomas Szapucki will surprise us all
By Brad LaPlante
Both Tylor Megill and David Peterson shocked the New York Mets when they were able to come up to the MLB and compete, despite both having not been incredibly dominant at the minor league level.
Peterson was not a fringe pick like Megill was. Peterson was taken as a first-round pick and was called up relatively early in substitution of a recently injured Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman, who ended up opting out of the entire 2020 season.
Peterson and Megill performed excellently in their first year. In the first several months of his MLB career, Megill’s ERA was under 3. Both have shown great poise and could be big parts of this Mets team for years to come.
So now we ask: who is the next big surprise out of the Mets’ farm?
We’re working with all pitchers, but isn’t it better fulfillment when pitchers are surprisingly dependable? Szapucki did not have a great MLB entrance. He pitched 3.2 innings for the Mets in 2021, in relief. Normally a starter, he hasn’t quite developed for the team to be able to really depend on him.
Szapucki was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Entry Draft. In his first few years in the minors, he was impressive. In 2016, he really started catching everyone’s attention when he posted 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings. In 2017, he underwent UCL reconstruction and it’s been uphill ever since.
2019 was a pretty solid year for him, but he’s still been off and on through injuries and the 2020 minor league season being cancelled.
For a guy who used to throw a high-90s fastball and a wicked curve, he’s had to switch up his gameplay since his fastball tops out at around 93 these days. The slower fastball hasn’t resulted in the same success he saw earlier in his career.
We saw David Peterson mess around with that sort of mental road block. Last year, Peterson really excelled with his mix of slider and curveball, but he hasn’t been able to rely on that slider this year. So he cut out his curve, being that he hadn’t really mastered it yet. Doing that has led to a few better outings before he was injured mid-season.
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If Szapucki gets the right training and development from the Syracuse coaching staff, he might surprise us all within the next two seasons.