Mets left-hander Thomas Szapucki needs ulnar nerve transposition surgery, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports (Twitter link). The procedure will end Szapucki’s season, though the expectation is that he’ll be recovered in time for Spring Training.
The southpaw is just two weeks removed from his MLB debut, as Szapucki allowed six runs over 3 2/3 innings of relief work in New York’s 20-2 blowout loss to the Braves on June 30. That unfortunate outing stands as Szapucki’s lone appearance in the Show, as the Mets optioned him back to Triple-A two days later. (He was also called up to the big league roster in May but was optioned back a day later without seeing any game action.)
Nonetheless, Szapucki can now officially call himself a Major League player, following an injury-plagued pro career that began when the Mets selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. Szapucki only pitched 145 innings from 2015-19, in large part due to a Tommy John surgery that entirely erased his 2018 season and a good chunk of his 2017 campaign. This latest procedure represents another significant setback, and it continues a trend of ulnar nerve transposition surgery for current and former Mets pitchers (such as Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler) in recent years.
Despite all these setbacks, Szapucki still carries some potential. MLB Pipeline ranks the left-hander 10th on their current list of Mets minor leaguers. As per Pipeline’s scouting report, Szapucki’s signature pitch is a 60-grade curveball, which he pairs with a fastball that only has low-90’s velocity but still grades as a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale. It remains to be seen if Szapucki can stay healthy enough to work as a starter at the big league level, but he has started 42 of 49 minor league games, posting a 2.80 ERA and an impressive 28.91% strikeout rate over 186 2/3 total innings in New York’s farm system.