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Mets' prospect Noah Syndergaard should succeed in big leagues this year

Syndergaard's minor league numbers project major league success.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Being a top Mets pitching prospect in 2015 must be tough, considering the high standard that has been set over the last few years. Following the success of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom in each of the past three seasons, respectively, all eyes are now on 22-year-old Noah Syndergaard.

Baseball America ranked Syndergaard as the Mets' top prospect last year and did so again for the upcoming season, when he will likely make his major league debut. While one can easily expect a lot from the youngster, we should keep in mind how young Syndergaard is. Remember, Harvey and Wheeler debuted at the age of 23 and deGrom at the age of 25.

In order to grasp what we might expect from Syndergaard in 2015, let's first take a look at the above-mentioned pitchers' minor league numbers (sorted by FIP):

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

Wheeler

9.36

3.23

0.47

3.12

3.18

Syndergaard

10.12

2.39

0.83

3.57

3.23

Harvey

9.90

3.41

0.64

3.53

3.32

deGrom

7.63

2.44

0.59

3.40

3.54

Minor league numbers aren't perfect estimators of major league performance, but one thing from this table does stand out: Syndergaard's great command. While his numbers speak for themselves, they seem even better when compared to those of the recent Mets pitching sensations.

Syndergaard spent all of last year in Triple-A after splitting the 2013 season between High-A and Double-A. Some argue that the jump from Double-A to Triple-A is harder than that from Triple-A to the majors. Whether or not that's really the case, it is true that Syndergaard struggled a bit in 2014, posting the worst walk rate and FIP of his Mets minor league career.

Season

Team

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

2013

Mets (A+)

9.05

2.26

0.42

3.11

2.64

2013

Mets (AA)

11.50

2.00

1.33

3.00

3.36

2014

Mets (AAA)

9.81

2.91

0.74

4.60

3.70

Average

10.12

2.39

0.83

3.57

3.23

Syndergaard's 2014 season seems like a down year for him, but how did it compare to those of other Triple-A pitchers? According to Minor League Central, of 48 qualified pitchers, Syndergaard ranked fifth in FIP and third in strikeouts per nine but just 21st in walks per nine. In spite of that, those are great numbers considering it was his first season at that level, and he was the second youngest pitcher of his class.

Noah Syndergaard is a top prospect and a promising major league talent as of now. His numbers are great, his command is praised, and prospect media consistently rank him highly. With this in mind, let's use ZiPS to try to project Syndergaard's future performance. The 2015 projections were released earlier this month and Syndergaard ranked as Mets' fourth-best pitcher in zWAR.

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

FIP

FIP-

zWAR

Matt Harvey

8.24

2.88

0.59

3.24

91

2.8

Jacob deGrom

8.21

2.74

0.62

3.21

90

2.8

Zack Wheeler

8.81

3.43

0.77

3.59

101

2.4

Noah Syndergaard

9.52

2.55

0.87

3.28

92

1.8

Steven Matz

7.94

2.79

0.7

3.52

99

1.8

Rafael Montero

8.65

3.11

0.87

3.68

103

1.7

Jon Niese

6.92

2.41

0.84

3.72

105

1.7

Bartolo Colon

6.17

1.45

0.97

3.7

104

1.1

Dillon Gee

6.78

2.54

1.14

4.29

120

0.6

ZiPS projects Syndergaard as a very solid pitcher with great command, an above-average FIP-, and overall a great season for a rookie. Let's compare his projected numbers with the rookie seasons of Harvey, deGrom, and Wheeler.

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

FIP-

FIP

WAR

deGrom

9.24

2.76

0.45

76

2.67

3.0

Syndergaard

9.52

2.55

0.87

92

3.28

1.8

Harvey

10.62

3.94

0.76

89

3.3

1.1

Wheeler

7.56

4.14

0.9

117

4.17

0.5

If Syndergaard is able to approximate his ZiPS predictions, his rookie year could be better than Matt Harvey's. And while it would be tough to match deGrom's fantastic rookie performance, Syndergaard's projected peripherals aren't too far from that either.

Let's push the matter a bit further. Over the past ten seasons, 26 starting pitchers entered the big leagues at age 22, and here's how some of their rookie seasons compare to Syndergaard's ZiPS projection:

Name

K/9

BB/9

FIP

FIP-

WAR

Jair Jurrjens

6.64

3.35

3.59

84

3.4

Michael Pineda

9.11

2.89

3.42

90

3.2

Jhoulys Chacin

8.74

4.05

3.5

77

3

Tommy Hanson

8.18

3.24

3.5

84

2.5

Julio Teheran

8.24

2.18

3.69

99

2.5

Cole Hamels

9.86

3.26

3.98

86

2.4

Josh Johnson

7.62

3.65

3.92

88

2.4

Gerrit Cole

7.67

2.15

2.91

80

2.3

Scott Olsen

8.27

3.74

4.33

98

2.2

Shelby Miller

8.78

2.96

3.67

99

2.2

Adam Loewen

7.73

4.95

3.91

86

2

Anibal Sanchez

5.48

3.6

3.92

89

2

Tommy Hunter

5.14

2.65

4.4

95

2

Noah Syndergaard

9.52

2.55

3.28

92

1.8

Among these starters, Syndergaard's ZiPS projections would rank 14th in WAR, second to Cole Hamels in strikeouts per nine, third to Gerrit Cole and Julio Teheran in walks per nine, and second to Cole in FIP. That would not be bad company to be in.

This should be an exciting year for Mets fans, with Harvey's return, deGrom's sophomore campaign, and Syndergaard's likely major league debut. He will have to contend with the pressure of living up to his teammates' past performances, as well as to his own reputation, but the righty's minor league numbers suggest that he could succeed at the major league level and be an integral part of one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball.