Noah’s Arc: Cubs to Face Mets Prospect Syndergaard Tuesday

Hey, would you look at that! The Cubs aren’t the only team in baseball with stud prospects being called up, as the Mets recently announced that fireballing righty Noah Syndergaard would be coming up from AAA Las Vegas to fill the vacancy left by Dillon Gee’s trip to the DL.

Drafted in the supplemental portion of the 1st round of the 2010 draft (38th overall) by Toronto, Syndergaard spend 3 years in the Blue Jays organization before being traded to the Mets as part of the package for knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Talk about a contrast in styles.

Syndergaard never got past A-ball with the Jays, owing much to the fact that he was only 17 when he began his pro career; at no point since has he been within 2 1/2 years of the average age of his given league. Though somewhat static over his first few seasons, his career arc began to trend upward once he got to the Mets and 2014 was the only season in which he didn’t earn a promotion.

A physically imposing specimen, the great Dane goes about 6’6″ and 240 lbs and makes ample use of his big frame with a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and can brush triple digits on occasion. His four-seamer has nice life and really explodes, creating a pop in the catcher’s glove that lets you know he’s got something special.

I had the pleasure of watching Syndergaard pitch in Las Vegas last spring and walked away incredibly impressed. He went deep into the game and was still throwing mid-to-high 90’s even at the end of his start. Seated just behind and to the right of home plate, I could have sworn I heard the ball whistling up to the plate.

It’s the heater that raises the hairs on the back of your neck, but what’s really scary about Syndergaard is that he can mix in either a curveball or a changeup. The curve appears to bend nicely, but it’s the drop in velocity that really makes it deadly. Clocking in around 80 mph (according to Brooks Baseball), it can really mess with batters.

Syndergaard’s circle change clocks in in the mid-80’s and appears to move well both vertically and horizontally. Used in concert, this repertoire has allowed the big Texan to average just over 9 K/9 in the minors. That number has been 11.50, 9.81, and 10.31 over the last three campaigns though.

One of the issues that has held Syndergaard back has been control; he averages 2.82 BB/9 and has trouble going deep into games. In 2014, he averaged just over 5 innings per start and despite a sparkling 1.82 ERA in 2015, he’s still only averaging 5.84 innings. And that ERA may be due to a bit of luck, as his FIP thus far is 3.06.

But here’s the thing: prospects are exciting. And the prospect of seeing Syndergaard facing the Cubs has got me feeling a bit like what catcher Kevin Plawecki’s hand will be after framing his new teammate, which is to say, well, tingly. I just hope the result of the game doesn’t leave me feeling as numb as Plawecki’s left paw is sure to.

I’ve gone on, both here on the blog or in conversations on the radio or with friends, about the size and skill of the Cubs lineup, particularly trio of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Jorge Soler. But in Syndergaard, the Mets have a guy who’s just big and talented. It’s the Hulk vs. the Abomination, only several times over through the order. Think they could get Stan Lee to throw out the first pitch?

Some of the MiLB videos of Syndergaard in action look like something a Squatch hunter would tout, but you can get a good idea of what appears to be a solid yakker in one of the videos below. The Futures Game clip is much clearer but still not great. In the third clip, you get two K’s and some commentary from the Mets booth.

I can’t wait to see the game on Tuesday, and I don’t think I’m the only one. In fact, I’d be willing to bet fans will be flooding into Wrigley 2 x 2 to watch it.


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