A Tale of Two Lefties. They are the best of lefties and not the worst of lefties and it is to a far better place we hope they will go than any of us fans will ever know.
With regards to pitching, the Mets have Steven Matz in the majors, P.J. Conlon waiting in the wings and few other left handed starting pitching options amidst their minor leagues. The #4 and #3 players come from very distinct and different backgrounds.
David Peterson was the Met’s first pick in the 2017 draft. A refined college pitcher who would ideally be able to progress through the minors swiftly (in time to replace one or another of the Mets current rotational mainstays. Peterson is a big guy and he’s scouted very well with some scouts comparing him to Chris Sale (might be a stretch). The issue with Peterson is he’s done basically nothing in the minors.
Thomas Szapucki was drafted out of high school in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. At 6’2” nobody would call him small and with a mid 90s fastball nobody doubted his potential. The Met pitcher had a breakout 2016 before the injury bug stifled what promised to be an even more exciting 2017.
Both of these lefties have the potential to factor into the Mets future rotation as early as 2020 and should not be underestimated as prospects.
4. David Peterson, SP (Bats: L, Throws: L, Age: 22) – I dislike ranking players with little to know minor league experience in the top five which is largely my complaint with the Met farm system. I’m ranking a 22 year old pitcher who has 3.2 innings of minor league experience 4th in the minor league system and if the Mets had a top farm system you’d have enough top talent from 2016, 2015 and 2014 to push David Peterson into the Top 10. All of this being said, I was very happy when the Mets drafted Peterson and have high hopes for his development.
Originally drafted by the Boston Redsox in the 28th round of the 2014. Instead of heading to Boston, Peterson went to play for the Oregon Ducks. His results, early on were mixed. His strikeout numbers were high but his ERA was North of 4.00 and his Sophomore season was only slightly better.
Then, after a brief stint with the National Collegiate Team, things started clicking. Perhaps it was the coaching he received during this time or perhaps it was the confidence boost of being selected for this elite group of players, but his numbers took a steep rise. He had a sub 3.00 ERA and 140 strikeouts in just over 100 innings.
Peterson boasts a low-90s fastball that scouts like the movement on, a slider, a changeup and a curveball. Scouts rank both his slider and changeup as potentially plus pitches with the curveball as a “get it over” pitch. He’s got two full seasons (or more) in the minors before we’ll be seeing him in Queens but there is reason to hope that the big lefty will be a solid mid-rotation starter.
3. Thomas Szapucki, SP (Bats: R, Throws: L, Age: 21) – Because Szapucki was drafted out of high school we forget that he’s still only 21. That means that even with his injury, he isn’t “behind schedule”. It simply means that instead of starting 2018 as a Top 100 MLB prospect, he’s going to start his season watching other players take the field. This may be, in part, because the Mets are one of the worst franchises with regards to injury management. In 2017, Szapucki opted to try to work back from injury rather than get surgery and lose the 2017 season.
This allowed him to hurl 29 promising innings for the Columbia Fireflies but also to him still requiring surgery and missing much of his 2018. Ultimately, he appears ready to hit the ground running in 2018 once he is healthy and should be allowed to pitch for Port St. Lucie as soon as he’s completed his rehab assignment.
Let’s remember, before we go to far, the 2016 season. With Kingsport and Brooklyn, he combined for 9 starts, 52 innings (5.2 IP per start), 1.38 ERA, 86 K and 20 BB which is a pretty impressive season for a 19 year old pitcher. His WHIP of 0.88 and his K/9 of 14.9 are both indicators that Szapucki might had front-end rotation written all over him.
This all assumes that he returns to form once he is healthy. This isn’t a given and we have our fingers dutifully crossed.