By Jerry Del Priore
The South Atlantic League named Columbia Fireflies lefty starter Thomas Szapucki pitcher of the week for the week of June19-25, the league announced Monday.
Szapucki, 21, allowed just two hits and no runs while fanning a season-high 10 batters in six innings of work in a 2-1 loss to the Kannapolis Intimidators Sunday night at Spirit Communications Park.
Szapucki, the New York Mets No. 4 prospect, missed the first two months of the 2017 season due to a shoulder impingement. The former Brooklyn Cyclone is 1-1 with a 2.82 ERA in four games with the Fireflies since returning from the disabled list.
No stranger to high strike out games, Szapucki, the Mets’ 2015 No. 5 draft pick out of Dwyer High School, whiffed 10 or more hitters in five of his nine starts in 2016 with Brooklyn.
The Palms Garden, Florida, native paced all short-season hurlers in ’16 with a 14.9 K:9 IP ratio.
For his three-year professional career with the Mets organization, Szapucki sports a 5-4 record with a 2.23 ERA and has punched out 110 batters against a mere 27 walks.
Szapucki owes much of his success to his outstanding curveball, which Baseball America calls the best in the Mets organization.
“My brother, Nicholas, introduced the grip to me,” Szapucki said of his curveball in a press release. “I stuck with the grip all throughout high school, started getting better at throwing it. It turned out to be a very good pitch for me.”
Szapucki is the second Firefly this season to garner a league award. The South Atlantic League named Merandy Gonzalez Player of the Month for April.