by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This was supposed to be the turning point year for the New York Mets. Tke year when they took the step away from non-factor and into playoff contention. The injury to Matt Harvey obviously put that step in a little bit of doubt, but lucky for the team the pipeline of young pitching is deep. We saw Zack Wheeler emerge a year ago and for the third consecutive season the team could turn to an elite prospect to bolster their rotation.
Acquired a year ago as part of the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto, Noah Syndergaard has quickly emerged as one of the premier prospects in the game. At the time everyone thought Travis d’Arnaud was the big prize to the deal, but a year later that has changed.
Splitting time between Single and Double-A Syndergaard posted a 3.06 ERA, 133 K and 28 BB over 117.2 IP. When you hear people discuss him, you can’t help but get excited. For instance, look at this scouting report from Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 (click here for his full Mets’ Top 10):
“The delivery is ultra-smooth from Syndergaard. Not only is he 6-foot-6, he also has a high three-quarters delivery that provides even more downward plane to his pitches. His posture is excellent and this is leading to very good balance on his landing and helping him keep his release point consistent”
Stuff is only half the puzzle with many young players, as they have to be willing to listen, learn and thrive to get better. From the quotes you read, Syndergaard has those qualities. Mets Double-A pitching coach Glen Abbot was quoted by USA Today as saying (click here for the article):
“He’s a great talent, but he’s not afraid to try what you ask him to try, and that’s a beautiful thing. Some guys will get stubborn, but not Noah. He looks at what’s better for the welfare of the pitcher.”
Over the last three seasons Syndergaard has posted a 10.37 K/9 vs. a 2.47 BB/9. Just to get us even more excited, he owns a 49.6% groundball rate over that time. You put that type of ability in a pitcher’s park like CitiField and you have the potential for something special.
Granted, we want to temper expectations a little bit since much of the damage has come at the lower levels, but we still can’t just disregard the the numbers. Plus, at 21-years old (he will turn 22 in August), he is clearly still developing.
In his post season Top 75 Prospects, John Sickels of Minor League Ball slotted Syndergaard at #11. It just goes to show how highly thought of Syndergaard has become. Once the second fiddle in a blockbuster deal, he could ultimately be the biggest prize.
Matt Harvey made his debut on July 26, 2012. Zack Wheeler was up on June 18, 2013. Look for Syndergaard to be on a nearly identical schedule, getting some Triple-A innings in (and avoiding the Super 2 cutoff), before joining the Major League rotation.
The Mets have proven capable of developing this high upside young pitchers in recent years, and that makes Syndergaard all the more appealing. The upside is there to be a fantasy gem, and that makes him a player worth grabbing in even deeper redraft formats. There are going to be bumps along the way, but with his stuff and skill set, the sky could be the limit.
Sources – Minor League Baseball, Minor League Central, Prospect 361, Minor League Ball, USA Today