MLB.com currently ranks Thomas Szapucki in their Top 10 Met prospects, but at 23 years of age and pitching another injury shortened season in Columbia one might question if this left-handed pitcher even belongs being ranked that high. Consider that Ronny Mauricio (currently on track to finish the year as the #1 Met Prospect) is 18 years old and playing well in the same level. Szapucki is too old to be pitching where he is and has already lost two full years of his own development. What about this pitcher makes people say, “Top Prospect” at all.
Some players get ranked highly because they are drafted highly. Players like Brett Baty and Josh Wolf will be ranked in the Top 10 (likely) based on nothing but their draft stock. Instead the Mets took Szapucki in the 5th round of the drafts and lucked into being able to sign him away from a college commitment. He hadn’t ranked higher because he lacked velocity and the assumption from most scouts was that he’d go to college, get his fastball up to speed and then he’d return to the draft as a Top 100 talent. Instead, the Mets signed him for $375,000.00 and sent him to the Gulf.
Kingsport and Brooklyn:
Szapucki was a revelation in Brooklyn. His fastball jumped up in velocity significantly which played off his already great breaking pitches to make him devastatingly effective. His 86 strikeouts in 52.0 innings pitched was off the charts and the crisp 0.88 WHIP made people see an “Ace” tag in the offing. Everything suggested that the Mets had secured a diamond in the rough and people felt very good about the depth of the Mets pitching.
In the Spring of 2017 injury worries began to make themselves known. The Mets shutdown Szapucki and the pitcher opted to try to avoid Tommy John surgery by going through alternative treatments. It even seemed like it might work, with the lefty 29.0 innings towards the middle of the year but it was not to be. Szapucki lost most of his 2017 season to alternative treatments and all of his 2018 season to Tommy John.
Now that Szapucki has spent the better part of two years on the shelf the Mets are treating him as if he’s made of paper-thin porcelain. He’s been used sparingly by the Columbia Fireflies and was only stretched to 3.0 innings for the first time yesterday. As he works back to health the numbers have been shy of his 2016 excellence but have tended to be good throughout his brief showing.
The Mets are now working to stretch Szapucki out and we should see him having legitimate starts in his next 2-3 outings. Should he be his 2016 self for the rest of the year it will be hard for people not to kick him up of few Prospect rungs on the ladder. It would be hasty to put a pitcher who hasn’t ever pitched in Advanced A past the likes of Anthony Kay or David Peterson but crazier things have been known to happen.
Binghamton Rumble Ponies
David Thompson on a Tear – The streaky 3rd baseman is hitting .364 over his last 10 games but his power hasn’t looked as impressive as it should.
Patrick Mazeika is on the Fringes of Relevance – He’s still showing enough with his bat to be an interesting backup option at catcher. A catcher who can hit from the left side of the plate isn’t a bad thing.
St. Lucie Mets
Jeremy Vasquez Belongs in AA – If only Vasquez played another position he’d probably be in AA already.
Mets 1 and 2
Freddy Valdez still looks good – He’s stolen 2 more bases than I ever thought he would and I’d love to see more power but he’s stayed strong throughout.
Federico Polanco is worth noting – The small infielder is a hit machine and has a nice string of extra base hits thanks to his speed and hitting.