Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Top Prospects #5: Noah Syndergaard

Name: Noah Syndergaard
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: 1st round (2010)
Opening Day age: 19
Height/weight: 6’5”/200 lbs
Best/worst tool: Fastball/command
Risk factor: High
ETA: 2014

Scouting Report

While failing to agree to terms with a top draft pick is never a good thing for a franchise, the silver lining in losing James Paxton is that Toronto used its compensatory pick to select Noah Syndergaard. He has quickly torn down the project label placed upon him, with his arsenal showing drastic improvements across the board. He has the best fastball in the system with plus-plus potential. His four-seamer sits 94-95 mph and consistently touches 98 mph. There were rumors of a 102 mph pitch, but that was simply the case of a juiced gun. Syndergaard also throws a two-seamer that, while a few miles-per-hour slower, has much better movement. The pitch runs in on the hands of right handed batters, and he uses it to induce weak contact. He throws both pitches with roughly the same frequency, perhaps slightly favoring the four-seamer. Syndergaard is armed with two offspeed pitches. He flashes plus with a 77-80 mph power curveball, but lacks consistency with the pitch. It has 12-to-6 break with nice shape, and is used predominantly with two strikes as a swing-and-miss pitch. His circle changeup is a step behind, but could be at least an above average offering down the road. The pitch sits in the mid 80’s and has sharp armside movement. He has good arm speed on the pitch and typically keeps a nice velocity separation from his fastball, though he can get in trouble when the change starts touching the upper 80’s. Syndergaard is more of a control pitcher than a command pitcher at this point, as he can get his pitches in the strikezone but not always exactly where he wants them. His 6’5”, 200 lbs frame is perfect for handling his power arsenal, and his height helps create a downward plane on his pitches. His delivery is loose, and he maintains sound mechanics through the duration of his starts. It’s often overlooked, but Syndergaard has an excellent mound presence and work ethic, always competing and trying to make himself better.

2011 Statistics and Analysis

13 games (11 starts), 59 IP, 46 H, 12 ER, 1 HR, 18 BB, 68 K
5-2, 1.83 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 10.37 K/9, 3.77 K/BB, 1.30 GO/AO

Syndergaard opened the year with Bluefield in the Appalachian League and dominated for 7 games (5 starts). He was nearly unhittable, giving up only 23 hits in 32 innings (.198 BAA) while striking out 37 batters (10.41 K/9). He earned a promotion to Vancouver in late July where he continued his success across 4 Low-A starts. The trends from Bluefield continued, as Syndergaard held hitters to a .221 BAA with 11.00 K/9. He joined fellow top prospect Justin Nicolino in Single-A Lansing in late August, where he made two more impressive starts. The overall 2011 numbers were very impressive, but it will be interesting to see if he can maintain such dominant rates facing better competition (the Midwest League) with a full season workload.

Expected 2012 Assignment: Single-A Lansing

Future Outlook

Syndergaard performed extremely well, but expectations, at least in the short term, need to be tempered. He pitched only 59 innings in 2011, so anything beyond 100 innings could be a bit reckless on the organizations part. He’ll start his season with Lansing, the question is whether or not he’ll be in the Opening Day rotation, or whether he’ll begin in May in order to ensure he pitches the entire year, possibly into the playoffs. If he continues his success from 2011 into this season, it’s very possible he’ll join High-A Dunedin later in the summer. Should he continue to develop his offspeed pitches as hoped, Syndergaard could be see the Toronto Blue Jays rotation in mid-to-late 2014, and should be ready to contribute 180-200 innings to the big club in 2015 as a 22 year old.

Perfect World Projection: Top of the rotation starter, possible All Star appearances and Cy Young contention during his prime years.

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