MMO Exclusive: MLB Scout Sizes Up Mets Prospects Dunn and Szapucki

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Photo: Jacob Resnick, MMO

Since 2001, the Brooklyn Cyclones have been the Mets short season single A affiliate. While one of the lowest rungs on the minor league ladder isn’t exactly the first place many would look to find can’t miss ballplayers, 52 major leaguers including current Mets Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes and Hansel Robles all made an early stop in Brooklyn on their road to the show.

This past week, two potential future stars took the mound at MCU Park when Justin Dunn and Thomas Szapucki each took their turn in the rotation.

Dunn, the Mets’ first round pick this season pitched on Thursday, going three no hit innings while striking out six hitters.

The dominant start was representative of his success in the broader scope this year. For the season, Dunn has posted a miniscule 0.50 ERA along with 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

The following day, Thomas Szapucki, a 2015 fifth round pick and the Mets current eighth ranked prospect faced off against the West Virginia Black Bears. Over 5.1 innings, the 20 year old lefty allowed three hits and four runs while punching out 10 batters.

Szapucki has taken a significant step forward in his development this season. After dominating for Kingsport in the Appalachian League over the first half of the year, Szapucki didn’t skip a beat upon his promotion to Brooklyn. Over 23 innings, he has two wins along with a 2.35 ERA and an impressive 39 strikeouts.

On Sunday, I caught up with a current major league scout to hear his thoughts on the Mets’ young phenoms in Brooklyn.

Regarding Dunn, the scout was quick to praise his velocity and athleticism.

“He’s got absolutely electric stuff, it’s fun to watch him throw.”

The scout went on about his delivery, calling it “loose and easy. He looks like he’s playing catch, but then you look at the gun and see 95, 96, 97.”

In addition to his plus fastball, Dunn also throws a tight slider in the mid to high eighties that can develop into major league out pitch in the future.

Despite his praises, the scout was adamant that Dunn has a long way to go before he can be successful at the next level.

“His change up and curve need work, and he has to build up his strength and stamina. He was a reliever in college and he just isn’t capable of being a full time starter right now.”

Photo: Allen Greene, Kingsport Mets
Photo: Allen Greene, Kingsport Mets

The scout came away impressed from Szapucki’s outing as well.

Like Dunn, he’s a high velocity pitcher, but he adds a degree of deception with an unorthodox delivery. This in turn helps boost his video game like strikeout totals.

“He’s an interesting guy. He throws hard for a lefty, it’s not easy to hit 97 when it’s coming out of his sleeve.”

The scout also highlighted Szapucki’s poise and mound presence. After giving up three runs in an inning due to some bad luck and shoddy defense, Szapucki came back unrattled and shut down the Black Bears for the remainder of his appearance.

When I asked the scout to draw a major league comparison to Szapucki, he laughed and shook his head.

“Szapucki’s really one of a kind, you don’t see a lot of guys like him.”

Still, the scout had reservations about whether Szapucki could last in a major league rotation.

“He has to be confident enough to throw his changeup and curve when he’s behind in the count. Right now he’s far enough (in his development) to throw them when he’s ahead, but even in Double A, you have to be able to throw all of your pitches in any count.”

“Szapucki also needs to get in a full starting workload and hold up to it physically. He needs to maintain his velocity and movement deeper into games. If his stuff is still playing at the end of a long season next year, that will put him in a position to really establish himself as a true starting pitcher.”

When talking about both guys, the scout was bullish but noncommittal.

“They’re both so talented, but so much can happen between now and the big leagues. It’s really hard to say anything definitive on either guy.”

“It’s hard to evaluate them at this point in the season when they’re tired and probably not pitching up to the best of their abilities. It’ll be interesting to see both of them when they’re refreshed and pitching at a higher level next year.”

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About Noah Wolfe 51 Articles

Noah is a die-hard Mets fan from New Jersey. He currently cheers for and follows the Mets from snowy Syracuse, New York, where he studies broadcast journalism at the Newhouse School. Follow him on Twitter @iNoahWolfe or drop him a line at nlwolfe@syr.edu to comment on his work.