Mets Prospect Face-Off: Rafael Montero vs. Noah Syndergaard
This week’s face-off is a tough topic. The strength in the Mets’ farm system is in their starting pitching, and we decided to pose an interesting question this week:
Two of the top pitchers in New York’s system, but Montero and Thor couldn’t be more different in terms of style. Let’s just go on and get to the debate!
This is incredibly difficult due to the fact that Syndergaard and Montero are two exceptional pitchers who have both dominated at almost every level they’ve been in. When Satish and I went to the Futures game, I asked which team he was rooting for, he said he didn’t know. I told him that I was for the World team with Montero starting. Montero has been thought of as undersized as a pitcher, and doesn’t have a plus pitch, however his control is borderline pinpoint. His breaking pitches are all average and his fastball is above average. Syndergaard has a plus fastball and curve, but lacks a change-up as an evaluator has told me before. Change-up development is incredibly important to his success. What is to his credit is the control, which has been evident since he was drafted. Either way, Syndergaard has more upside over Montero, yet Montero has proven himself up to AAA, which Noah hasn’t. This is is such a toss up, but I’m going to go with the same choice I had at the Futures Game, the Bluer Chip in Rafael Montero. Change-up development is important with Syndergaard thus far, and while Montero’s isn’t plus, it’s serviceable, and better than Noah’s. Either way, they’re both important to the future rotation, especially with their plus control. Verdict: Montero
I like that my colleague Teddy chose Montero above — because just as his anecdote about the Futures Game hints at, I’m rolling with Noah Syndergaard. This is, by far, the most difficult choice I’ve had to make in this series. Often when discussing Wheeler coming up through the minors last year alongside Montero, I favored Montero in many situations simply because of his control. He has pinpoint control — and at times it was the best in our system. Syndergaard has the advantage in control over Wheeler, but his change-up is underdeveloped. His fastball and hammer, however, make him an incredible force on the mound that could easily turn into a combo that leads to 200 strikeouts yearly. Syndergaard’s also a physical specimen — an intimidating figure no doubt — which adds to his appeal. Don’t mistake my love for Syndergaard as putting Montero down, however, because I think Montero is highly underrated. That being said, it’s a little difficult to vote against a norse god, so I’ll go with Thor. Verdict: Syndergaard
I had the chance to watch both these guys pitch this summer more than once. What a treat. Rafael Montero has the cool poise of a high stakes gambler on the mound. His mechanics are as smooth as glass, sharp and crisp and repeated on every pitch. Montero works quickly and effortlessly and has impeccable command. Noah Syndergaard was electric on the hill at Binghamton. He was a power pitcher who was hard to hit at what ever level the Mets put him this summer. The first time Noah pitched at NYSEG Stadium his last pitch was pitch number 93, a 98 mph fastball chalking up his 9th strikeout of the day. Syndergaard has a slider and curve and a change-up that’s a work in progress. The last time I watched him, his first few changes had dropped velocity some 6 or 7 mph from the first time I saw him use that pitch, but he was unable to maintain that range throughout his outing. Which guy will have more success in the major leagues – you have to be a seer to answer that one. Based on pure stuff, I’d vote for Syndergaard. Based on potential longevity, I’d go with Montero. Verdict: Syndergaard
This was a fun debate to roll out and see what everyone was thinking. At this point, I can’t fault anyone for choosing either one of these guys. A solid case could be made in favor of either. While it’s tough for me to go against Syndergaard and his pure ability, I want to make things interesting. So, I’ll be choosing Montero. His poise, maturity, and control of the strike zone have won me over. The adjustment he made after getting promoted to Las Vegas is what truly impressed me the most. Obviously, Noah hasn’t had the opportunity to prove himself there, but time will tell. However, with the great expectations that are being bestowed upon Syndergaard, I think Montero will benefit from being underrated. Most are expecting him to be a back of the rotation starter at his peak, at best a number three. If he uses his superb control and ability to adjust in the right way, he can outperform what’s expected from him. For Syndergaard, it’s hard to outperform being an ace (but I think he will be one). Verdict: Montero
So, we’re deadlocked at two votes a piece and could use your help. Who do you think will experience more success in the majors, Montero or Syndergaard?
About the Author: Matt Musico
Matt is a 26-year-old college admissions counselor that loves talking baseball, and the New York Mets. He's been fortunate enough to have many relationships with sports; he played baseball through college and was invited to a professional tryout, and has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Sport Management. Matt is a freelance New York Mets contributor for Yahoo! Sports, and is the owner of On The Way Home, his personal MLB blog. You can follow him on Twitter @mmusico8
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