The Mets are nine games under .500 and haven’t given their fans much to cheer about. Young right-handed starters Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler give the team hope for the future, though, and they hope right-handed prospect Noah Syndergaard joins their ranks in the near future.
So it was no surprise that the 20-year-old Mansfield Legacy product received a nice ovation from the Mets’ faithful during pregame introductions for the Futures Game on Sunday.
“That was awesome,” Syndergaard said of his first Citi Field introduction. “I loved it.”
Syndergaard didn’t disappoint in the game, either, when he started for the United States team. He had an unconventional 1-2-3 inning, beginning what became a 4-2 victory for the U.S. over the World Team.
Syndergaard quickly quieted his nerves when his first pitch resulted in a flyball out by Padres prospect Reymond Fuentes. He then struck out Arismendy Alcantara swinging on three fastballs, an impressive feat against the likely future second baseman for the Cubs, who homered to start the fourth inning.
Xander Bogaerts, a top-rated shortstop prospect for the Red Sox, ripped a 2-2 fastball up the middle for a single off Syndergaard, but was caught stealing five pitches later.
Syndergaard had a 2-2 count against Miguel Sano, missed with a fastball and then Bogaerts was thrown out at second by catcher Austin Hedges.
“I was trying to go for a strikeout, but I’ll take a caught stealing any day,” said Syndergaard, drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 38th overall pick in 2010 and then traded to the Mets last off-season.
“I felt good out there. I went out there, not trying to do too much, and have a quick inning. Fortunately I was able to do it.”
Syndergaard threw 15 pitches, 10 for strikes, and sat in the 96 mph range. That is typically how he starts off games, he said, although his velocity might have been a tick or two lower as he threw two innings last Thursday for Double A Binghamton.
Still, Syndergaard impressed in his lone outing and answered several questions about what it’ll take to get to the next level and being mentioned with the likes of Harvey and Wheeler.
“Those two guys are doing unbelievable things up there, and I can only hope to do it,” Syndergaard said. “I just need to continue to develop my breaking pitches and there’s always room for improvement with fastball location.”
The day started off well for Syndergaard with the ovation, and ended with a handshake and pat on the back from Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.
Syndergaard was the only local player of note in the game featuring the top prospects in baseball, as the Rangers’ invited players — catcher Jorge Alfaro and third baseman Joey Gallo — had to pull out because of injuries.
But the Rangers had one representative at the game in Triple A pitching coach Brad Holman, who served on the U.S. Team coaching staff.
“It was a tremendous experience,” Holman said. “Just the opportunity to hang out with guys [on the coaching staff] who have been in the game for so long, and seeing the talent pool that is coming up in the game is incredible.”
For Holman, that talent pool certainly includes Syndergaard.
“He’s the one I spent the most time with in the bullpen, and he’s just professional and a very quiet and stoic guy,” Holman said. “I only saw one inning, but he’s got the complete package.”