2012 Top 100: #79 Noah Syndergaard
Prospect Profile: Noah Syndergaard
Birthdate: August 29, 1992 (age 19)
Weight: 200 lbs
Origin: 1st round pick (38th overall) by the Blue Jays out of Legacy HS (Mansfield, TX) in 2010
Evan Rentschler: It's interesting when encountering discussions of Syndergaard how often the word "raw" comes up. From what I can tell this is mostly an assumption based on experience with most mid-six foot high school kids who throw hard. The truth is a lot more appealing, as Syndergaard not only has a great FB, but a sound delivery and decent secondaries to boot.
The FB is his bread-and-butter pitch, sitting 94/95 and touching 97 on his best days. There have been radar readings hotter than that, but I tend to be more interested in usable velocity, and with his build and mechanics he should be able to deliver and sustain consistent mid-90s cheese late into starts. The pitch looks pretty special, commanded at an advanced level for his age with great life and a consistent downhill plane.
His current secondaries consist of a nice changeup — it's interesting and atypical for a HS RHP's best secondary to be a change — and a curve that needs quite a bit of work (scouting says decent shape but arm speed issues). From what I've seen, the break is similar on both the change and curve (downer fader), and I wonder if a slider or something with more cutting action is recommended in the long term. There have been comments that the change is a little hard, which may actually work against him at the lowest levels where it comes in at FB speed for weaker hitters.
It's not just the stuff that's promising. Syndergaard features a prototypical and projectable starter's build and smooth, repeatable mechanics, impressive for a kid from a small town in Texas. He arm comes through right at the juncture of high-3/4 and a true over the top slot, optimizing his height and driving the ball down in the zone. He looks athletic and balanced over the rubber, doesn't rush his delivery, and generates his velocity with both his lower half and his quick arm.
In terms of recent draftees, Syndergaard is reminiscent of Taylor Guerrieri, who was also a helium guy in his draft year, though Guerrieri got more more heat and I'm not sure that was entirely merited in retrospect. My personal comparison is to another tall, projectable righty with a +FB/avg-to-+ second pitch, A.J. Cole. I could definitely see Syndergaard excelling in full-season ball in 2012 just as Cole did this year. I've also read a couple of interviews where Syndergaard embraces efficiency and inducing grounders. Not exactly typical of a teenager throwing a bat-splintering 94-97. There is much to like here.
If I remember correctly, Syndergaard was picked in the slot that was compensation for not signing Paxton. If so, that's got to be gratifying for the jays, because he was one of the few kids his age I'd say has a distinct chance of being as good as Paxton. Gotta love Toronto drafts.
Al Skorupa: Guerrieri is a real fascinating comp for Syndergaard. If Guerrieri makes as much progress as Syndergaard did in his first year as a pro I think the Rays would be ecstatic. Like Guerrieri, Syndergaard has a lot of exciting elements to find in a prep arm. He has a large power pitcher's build, easy mid 90's velocity (up from 2010) and the makings of some very good secondaries.
I'm not sure how well a slider would work with his high 3/4 (almost over the top) arm slot but I agree it would complement his repertoire better. I'd also like to see him finish strongly instead of falling towards the first base side of the mound. Consistency, shape and feel of secondaries (especially the CB) will be the thing to watch in 2012.
JD Sussman: I see Guerrieri's curveball being a bigger weapon and he also is more athletic. Though, I guess it's splitting hairs when we're discussing righties with huge fastballs.