Writing for Baseball America, Josh Norris named Noah Syndergaard the AA Eastern League’s top pitcher, and #3 overall prospect trailing only Xander Boegaerts (BOS) and Miguel Sano (MIN).
Rafael Montero was #13 on the list. Cesar Puello missed the list.
Norris’ comment on Syndergaard in part:
Two plus pitches and another that rates at least average is always enough to land a pitcher on a list like this. With his fastball, curveball and changeup, Syndergaard has that part down.
What sets him apart from his peers, however, is the outstanding command he displays and what one scout described as a “rare combination of power and strikes.” He uses his big, strong body to generate a fastball that sits between 93-96 mph, has touched triple-digits and features plenty of life. He couples it with a sharp curveball that improved in Double-A, reaching in the low-80s, and a budding changeup. He improved the arm speed on his curve after incorporating a slider into his repertoire this season.
Syndergaard still needs to refine his pitch sequencing and learn to keep his fastball down in the zone. If he irons out those issues, he’ll become the frontline starter scouts project him to be.
Also this for completeness:
He improved the arm speed on his curve after incorporating a slider into his repertoire this season.
Emphasis added. As he told me in Spring Training, Syndergaard actually added the slider last year – 2012 – when he was with the Blue Jays, and he says it helped tighten up his curveball.
On Montero at #13:
Montero puts his low-90s fastball just about wherever he wants and moves it in and out at will. He couples the fastball with a sweeping breaking ball and changeup that features plenty of late fade. Neither is a plus pitch, but both play up because of his top-grade control of his fastball.
Montero repeats his delivery and transitioned well to the offensive Pacific Coast League and the hitter-friendly Las Vegas venue. …
He’ll be given a chance to make the Mets’ rotation out of spring training next season and profiles as a No. 3 or 4 starter.
If the Mets really give Montero a chance to win a spot out of spring training, that would represent a departure from their practice in the first few years of Sandy Alderson in which the team has managed their prospects’ service time very carefully. Again, keeping Montero down in AAA for a month or so, would delay his free agency by a year by preventing him from accruing a full year of service time in 2014. Given that a single win in April 2014 will have limited value to a Mets team without Matt Harvey, preventing Montero from reaching free agency for a year, while giving him a little more time to work on his slider seems prudent.
Cesar Puello missed the list. The last four position players to make BA’s list: Garin Cecchini (Bos – #14), Jose Ramirez (CLE – #17), J.R. Murphy (NYY – #18) and Josmil Pinto (MIN – #20). BA raises a major issue for each of the four players: in order Cecchini – power, Ramirez – power/obp, Murphy – hit/receiving, and Pinto receiving/gamecalling. I get that Puello was suspended for Biogensis. The Mets believe he was 100% clean in 2013. Even with that slight black mark against him, and I don’t think all four guys ahead of him are actually better prospects.