Toms River, NJ Native Has Brutal First MLB Start for New York Mets
A first Major League Baseball start is a momentous occasion for any pitcher fortunate enough to get the call. But sometimes, it produces a moment the player would rather forget.
With future Hall of Famers Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer on the injured list along with Tylor Megill, the New York Mets recalled 25-year-old left-handed pitcher Thomas Szapucki from Triple-A Syracuse to make his first career start against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
It did not go well.
Szapucki was rocked for nine runs on seven hits in just 1 1/3 innings of work during the Mets' 9-3 loss to the Giants. San Francisco hit four home runs off him - two by Evan Longoria - and he also walked four batters. Szapucki had pitched well in Triple-A with a 2.86 ERA over 22 innings but his first test as a starter against big-league hitters was a tough one, to say the least.
"It sucks doing something like that," Szapucki told the New York Post. "But I was shown things I need to work on today and I'm going to get to work and be better."
Hopefully, there will be an opportunity for redemption for the Toms River native, who lived in Ocean County before moving to Florida when he was in elementary school. He played his high school baseball at William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach and committed to the University of Florida after a standout high school career. The Mets selected him in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Draft and he decided to forego his commitment to Florida and begin his professional career.
He has been a top-five prospect in the Mets' organization but injuries derailed his path to the majors. He underwent Tommy John surgery in July of 2017 and missed the remainder of that season plus all of the 2018 season when he was playing for the Columbia Fireflies of Class-A South Atlantic League. In 2021, two months after he was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse and just two weeks after he made his MLB debut in a relief appearance vs. the Atlanta Braves, it was determined that Szapucki would need ulnar nerve transposition surgery and would miss the remainder of the season.