- 2) Noah Syndergaard – 2010 1st-round (S), 38th overall – RHP – 29/08/1992 – 6’5″ 200 lbs.
Another one of Alex Anthopoulos’ young, high-ceiling pitching draft picks from 2010, Noah Syndergaard at 6’5″ and 200 lbs. is a prototypical power pitcher who can run his fastball into the upper-90s with ease. After a short but successful stint in the GCL in 2010, Syndergaard thoroughly dominated the competition in 2011 across three levels striking out 28.6% of the batters he faced while walking just 7.6%. Syndergaard wound up finishing the year with Lo-A Lansing where he made two starts.
Entering 2012, talent evaluators expected big things from the big, tall Texan and they would not be disappointed. Despite the move up to Lansing, Syndergaard maintained his impressive strikeout rate while limiting his walks in 2012. His curveball’s development is well behind that of Aaron Sanchez, but his control is currently much better than Sanchez.
Like Nicolino and Sanchez, Syndergaard started the season strong in April as they started under the piggybacking system that saw Syndergaard paired with former college-pitcher Anthony DeSclafani in starts until July. Syndergaard struggled a bit working as a reliever when DeSclafani got the start as he allowed 17 ER in just 24 IP. Though he was still striking out a lot of batters, he allowed significantly more walks and the only three HRs he would allow all year.
“It’s kind of frustrating, but at the same time, I know there’s a goal, there’s a plan that the Blue Jays have for me,” Syndergaard said of alternating starts and relief outings. “I’m OK with it, but I definitely feel more comfortable starting. I still haven’t figured out the relieving role. It would be a lot easier to acclimate to my routine if I was a starter every five days. The first few relief appearances, it was tough to get my arm loose, but I feel that I have a set routine going and get my arm loose.
Hopefully, the Jays and Syndergaard won’t have to worry about getting him loose before a relief appearance ever again because when July hit, the ‘Lansing 3′ + Desclafani were given their own rotation slots. The big Texan returned to dominant form with an increase in strikeouts, a drop in walks and the absence of a long ball for the remainder of the season. On the season, opponents hit a paltry .182 against him in games that he started.
Syndergaard’s continued success following the Lansing pitchers’ graduations from piggybacking is also encouraging because it meant that he was still having success even against batters that were seeing him for the second time in a game. Aaron Sanchez was the opposite as his results as a reliever were significantly stronger than as a starter especially in the second half when Sanchez’ innings were increased.
Syndergaard’s best pitch is his four-seam fastball which sits in the mid-90s and touched as high as 100 mph in 2012. Syndergaard’s height gives his fastball a great plane to the plate. Mark Anderson of BaseballProspectNation.com believes that his arm angle “makes him difficult to square and helps induce ground balls.” He also believes that his ability to add sink which he has shown thus far should become more consistent as he gains further professional experience. His velocity could rise even further as Syndergaard fully matures and could put him in elite company, though it is already a plus-pitch.
Video by: JayJournalJared
Syndergaard throws a hammer curveball which he throws in the 77-80 mph with 12-6 break and nice shape per BaseballInstinct.com. Syndergaard uses it as an out pitch and can throw it for strike or finish out of the zone to induce swings and misses. Needs to become more consistent which should occur as he gains experience. Currently shows a plus-pitch at times with the ability to induce swings and misses (Anderson).
Syndergaard also throws a circle changeup which sits in the mid-80s but lags behind his other offerings. His feel for the pitch is inconsistent and will need to improve for him to be a successful pitcher in the Majors. The pitch “[s]hows occasional sink that can work well against LHH,” writes Mark Anderson, “[It is a p]otential average pitch with experience/repetition.” Currently unable to throw consistently for strikes.
Syndergaard’s control was the primary factor in his ranking ahead of Aaron Sanchez in this list. It was also encouraging to see him improve as the 2012 season wore on and he faced lineups again. Syndergaard will certainly need to improve his secondaries as he rises through the ranks because he will not always be able to reach back for more velocity to blow past hitters. Eventually, they would catch up. Though he has shown the ability to throw his fastball consistently for strikes, his secondaries are not nearly as reliable and will lead to trouble if hitters are allowed to sit on his heater in the higher levels.
Syndergaard will also need to improve his command, which Mark Anderson believes because of his athleticism and arm action, currently projects to be average. He believes it will improve rapidly with greater experience and physical development. Syndergaard has the raw stuff that will allow him to be successful without pinpoint accuracy, but he could become an elite pitcher in the Majors if he were to possess above-average command of at least two of his pitches.
Syndergaard, like Sanchez and Nicolino, will likely start 2013 with the Dunedin Blue Jays in the Florida State League. As mentioned in their profiles, the organization has expressed a willingness to aggressively promote its pitching prospects as they enter their 20s. If Syndergaard can improve his secondaries and/or better command his fastball, then he could see a rapid rise through the remaining levels like Henderson Alvarez and Drew Hutchison before him.
Look for him to get a taste of AA at some point in 2013 and compete for a rotation spot by 2014 at the earliest. Despite their rankings in this list, expect to see Nicolino in the Majors first, followed by Syndergaard, and then Sanchez barring injury and/or rapid regression/progression.