Noah Syndergaard may not have pitched for the New York Mets yet, but he already knows what it feels like to be on the mound at Citi Field. Starting the 2013 Futures Game, the 21-year old hurler otherwise known to fans as Thor, the God of Thunder, Syndergaard led an endless barrage of hard-throwers as the USA squad struck down the World team 4-2.
A significant piece in the Mets’ 2012 deal to send R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays that keeps on giving, Syndergaard crushed expectations with his strong pitching for the high-A St. Lucie Mets and double-A Binghampton Mets. Going 9-4 in 23 combined starts with an ERA of 3.06 and a 1.15 WHIP, the massive Texan has shot to the top of the Mets’ long list of quality prospects, along with rocketing up MLB’s own. He’s ranked no. 3 among RHP and no. 11 overall.
Coming into camp, Syndergaard has the stuff to lock down the fifth rotation spot right now, though the Mets’ triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s, is likely where he goes to refine his skills when the season starts. He already unleashes a devastating fastball that runs hard in on righties at up to 98 MPH and a nasty up-and-down curve that helps keep his pitches down, inducing a high number of ground balls.
Scouts say that a developing changeup could become the third “plus” pitch in Syndergaard’s repertoire, and his control is impressive for a young flamethrower (4.75 BB/K ratio).
There are areas of improvement to focus on, however. With a 6-foot-6 frame, Syndergaard is still learning how to use his height as extra leverage to keep the fastball down. In 63.2 innings for St. Lucie, he gave up a total of three home runs. Over 54 innings with Binghampton, eight of his pitches landed on the wrong side of the fence. Though he did post better numbers overall after the promotion, it’d be best to address the fly ball situation in spring before it becomes a trend.
With Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, the Mets followed a similar growth pattern, keeping their innings and arm stress low, gradually promoting each pitcher through the farm system. Harvey’s recent Tommy John surgery notwithstanding, expect the Mets to approach Syndergaard the same way, if not a bit more delicately. Don’t plan on seeing him with the big club before June.