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Mets Designate Jerad Eickhoff For Assignment


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The Mets announced they’ve recalled left-hander Thomas Szapucki from Triple-A Syracuse. Righty Jerad Eickhoff was designated for assignment to create active roster space.

It’s the first big league call for Szapucki. New York’s fifth-round pick out of a Florida high school back in 2015, he’s been regarded as one of the more promising pitching prospects in the system for the past few years. Szapucki carved up low minors hitters over his first few pro seasons, drawing praise from scouts for low-mid 90s velocity and a pair of quality breaking balls. Unfortunately, he required Tommy John surgery in July 2017, knocking him out of action for almost two seasons.

Szapucki returned in 2019 and performed well across two levels of A-ball before earning a brief promotion to Double-A at the end of the season. Obviously, he didn’t log any game action last year due to the COVID-19 forced cancelation of the minor league season. Instead, he spent all of 2020 at the alternate training site, where reports suggested his velocity had fallen into the high 80s.

The injuries and diminished velocity took a small hit to Szapucki’s prospect status. He entered 2021 as Baseball America’s #16 farmhand in the organization, while Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs slotted him tenth in the system. Both outlets offered continued praise for his curveball, and Longenhagen noted that Szapucki’s velocity had bounced back into the low 90s during Spring Training 2021. He’s tossed 34 2/3 innings with Syracuse this season, working to a 4.41 ERA with a decent 23.8% strikeout rate but an elevated 13.8% walk percentage. Szapucki could be an option for a Mets rotation that lost Joey Lucchesi to Tommy John surgery last week.

When Lucchesi first went down, the Mets turned to Eickhoff. They were plenty familiar with the 30-year-old, who pitched for the division-rival Phillies from 2015-19. Eickhoff looked like a competent back-of-the-rotation starter early in his Philadelphia tenure, but he struggled over his last three seasons there and didn’t pitch in the majors last year.

Eickhoff’s return with the Mets lasted just two starts. Across ten innings, he allowed five runs on eleven hits (including an alarming four homers) with six strikeouts and four walks. The Mets will have a week to trade him or place him on waivers. Should Eickhoff clear outright waivers, he’d have the right to reject a minor league assignment and become a free agent.