When the off season ended, and the calendar turned to February, pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training and the attention changed to all the hype that surrounded Noah Syndergaard and what predictions he would live up to this summer. It’s possible that every single Mets top prospects list that came out in the off season, had Syndergaard at the top.
There is no guarantee that he will become the next Matt Harvey or even the next Mets super stud Ace and everything at this point is pure speculation, but there is nothing wrong with dreaming of what he can become, but is the attention and hype to large to live up to.
So I posed a question on our MMN Roundtable and here are the responses from a few of our staff writers……
With all the hype heading up to the 2014 season, do you feel that Noah Syndergaard will live up to it and make a huge impact to the rotation?
John Bernhardt – In some ways this is actually two questions. The first question, whether Syndergaard will live up to the hype, has to do with the assets Syndergaard brings to the mound, things under his control. The second question, whether he will make a huge impact to the rotation, particularly in the up coming season, has much to do with the organizational decision making and is in some ways out of his control.
Noah Syndergaard is the real deal. He has size, stature, a bulldog mental set, a power arm, an other worldly work ethic, all traits of success on a major league pitching mound. Every report you read reaffirms the positive assessment of Syndergaard; his extensive workout routine, dead lifting 460 pounds and working so hard he scares his personal trainer. His bulldog mentality on the mound and desire to intimidate batters, his goal to improve the curveball from last season and develop the change-up this spring. Then there is the eye test. I watched Noah pitch from the first seat behind home plate several times at NYSEG Stadium and this kid is electric. I remember struggling to figure out an 88-89 mph pitch he threw in his first outing and asking Darin Gorski who was charting behind home plate, Chuckling Gorski told me, “That’s his change-up.” He had lowered that change-up offering to the mid 80’s by the last time I saw him pitch.
Sybndergaard’s impact on the rotation will be effected by when and for how long he is placed in that rotation. That’s something that’s out of his hands and a bit more difficult to predict. I was pleased to read Syndergaard has no problems with the idea he could pitch out of the pen at the end of the season next year, if the Mets are planning to limit his innings and would like to use him in that capacity. The kid just wants the ball, just wants to pitch.
Andre Dobiey – No. Not really. But that’s based more on how the Mets have handled their top pitching prospects recently and has little to do with Syndergaard himself. The Mets made both Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey start 32+ games each at the Double A and Triple A levels combined (38 and 32 starts respectively). Noah Syndergaard has merely made 12 starts in Double A ball thus far. So besides being a year younger than both Harvey & Wheeler were at the times of their debuts anyway, you’d figure Syndergaard gets at least another 20 starts in the upper minors to fine tune his stuff. That would push his ETA until at least the All Star break in mid July 2014. And that’s only if the Mets have an actual need in the rotation. Besides that, the Mets have been rather strict with their IP limits, rarely allowing their young arms to add more than 30 IP on the previous total. Including playoffs and Futures Game, Syndergaard barely exceeded 120 innings in 2013. So, realistically, he´ll be capped right around 150 innings, maybe up to 160 if he does well with his efficiency. All things considered, it seems highly unlikely that Syndergaard gets more than maybe 50 innings in the majors before probably being shut down in early September unless the Mets implement changes to their handling of young pitchers.
The key will be getting him ready for a full time gig in 2015. Whatever he does in 2014 is mainly part of getting there.
Kirk Cahill- I think that depends on what heights the hype reaches. New York fans tend to go overboard with their expectations of players– especially those of young players or prospects. Most credible projections of Syndergaard have him as a very good number two starter at his peak. I think that’s a realistic expectation and one I would bet on Noah reaching. His combination of size and current stuff would put him in the 3-4 range even if the secondary pitches didn’t improve. But it would be silly to think that those pitches wouldn’t improve, since they certainly took a step forward in 2013. So clearly Syndergaard is working to improve instead of leaning on his natural talent. Therefore I think he will live up to the hype as long as the hype remains at a practical level.
(Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac)