It’s not often that a club has the opportunity to acquire the reigning Cy Young award winner but the Toronto Blue Jays did just that when they acquired R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets on Monday. Understandably, the Blue Jays paid a steep price for the veteran knuckleballer. Along with the top prospect in their system — Travis d’Arnaud, whom I wrote about earlier — the Jays also flipped prospects Noah Syndergaard and Wuilmer Becerra to their National League trading partners.
Syndergaard was the 38th overall selection of the 2010 amateur draft out of a Texas high school. The 20-year-old right-hander is best known for his ability to throw triple-digit smoke. He also has a massive 6’5” 200 lbs frame which should allow him to be extremely durable if/when he reaches the majors. On the down side, his secondary pitches are still raw and currently project as average offerings, which tempers projections for his overall ceiling. I spoke with a talent evaluator for my recent Jays Top 15 prospect list and he said this of Syndergaard’s stuff: “The curveball has come a long, long way… it is, at times, average,” He also stated that the young pitcher is toying with a slider and referred to the changeup as “OK.” He’s likely more of a No. 3 starter than a No. 1 or 2, unless New York’s development staff can help him unlock the potential of his curveball and/or changeup.
Syndergaard spent the 2012 season in A-ball, working in a tandem system that Toronto has implemented for all of its young pitchers. Splitting time between starting and relieving to keep his workload down, the right-hander pitched 103.2 innings while striking out 122 and walking 31. He also induces ground-ball outs at a massive rate, thanks to his ability to leverage his size. During the first half of 2012, while making seven starts and seven relief appearances, Syndergaard allowed 44 hits in 43 innings. In the second half, while making 12 starts in 13 appearances, he gave up just 37 hits in 60 innings. In other words, he was actually better while pitching consistently as a starter.
Syndergaard, who ranked as No. 3 on my recent Jays Top 15 prospect list behind d’Arnaud and fellow right-hander Aaron Sanchez, will likely slot in No. 3 on the Mets Top 15 list behind d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler. He’s expected to open 2013 in high-A ball but his above-average control could allow him to breeze through the Florida State League fairly easily after spending a full year in A-ball already (the Midwest League). If he stays healthy, he should be ready for the majors at some point in 2015.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.