Another local pitcher, Thomas Szapucki was born in Toms River, New Jersey however would play high school baseball down in West Palm Beach, Florida. The left-hander would be drafted by the Mets in the 5th round of the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft while in William T. Dwyer High School.
He would end up pitching in three games at the rookie level of professional ball that same year. While it was only 2.1 innings, he would give up four earned runs on five hits, leaving him with a 15.43 ERA.
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However his 2016 was phenomenal. Between Kingsport and Brooklyn, Szapucki appeared in nine games, all of which were starts, and posted a 1.38 ERA as well as a 4-3 record. He also struck out an incredible amount of batters, 86 in 52.0 innings to be exact.
His 2017 season was excellent, as well. He started in six games and owned a 1-2 record alongside a 2.79 ERA. Unfortunately his K rate would take a dip as he would strike out 27 batters in 29 innings that season. The reason for the diminished strike out numbers are probably due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John Surgery that very summer.
Due to the TJS, Szapucki would also end up missing the entirety of the 2018 campaign. However, he would return in 2019, and seemed to return to form.
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In 21 games, 18 starts, Szapucki would pitch 61.2 innings while striking out 72. Throughout three different levels, the lefty owned a 1-3 record while posting a 2.63 ERA.
His fastball can hit up 95-96 MPH, however what’s most impressive is how he can sit at 92-93 MPH in the latter innings of his outings. His slider will prove to be a strong second pitch for the New Jersey native.
According to TrackMan data, Szapucki had the best spin rate on his breaking stuff at Perfect Game National. While he didn’t utilize his change-up much when pitching in H.S., he’s since shown that it could be an average off-speed pitch, at the very least.
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Szapucki will surely see the Major League level if his health permits him. The question that’s currently surrounding the lefty is if his role will be as a starter or as a relief pitcher.
The 6’2” left hander pitches from a low 3/4’s arm slot, so scouts are predicting that Szapucki will be a reliever. If that’s the case, he looks like he could be the “Andrew Miller” type of pitcher, and that should be exciting out of the back end of the bullpen.
Expect Szapucki to hit the Major League level as soon as this upcoming 2021 season. While it probably won’t be right out of the gates, after Spring Training is over, there’s bound to be injuries and his name will definitely come up as a legitimate option.
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Photo via Anthony DiComo