So Noah Syndergaard, the pitching prospect the Mets received in the R.A. Dickey trade, debuted for Binghamton on Sunday. It went quite well, with Syndergaard striking out seven and walking one over six innings.
That said, don’t expect him anytime soon. The Mets typically look for pitchers to log around 150 innings at Double-A or above, without making much distinction between Double-A and Triple-A. This is the right strategy, in my opinion, especially when the distorted picture one can get from Las Vegas makes mastering Triple-A an illusory proposition.
So let’s take a look at what this means for scheduling Mets pitching prospects, with the warning, always, that pitchers get hurt, altering their timetables, and sometimes don’t develop in a linear fashion.
Rafael Montero has thrown 83 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season. His three Triple-A starts have gone as well as his Double-A starts, with a 10.1 per nine K-rate and 1.6 per nine walk rate. Still, after 122 innings in A-ball last year, he’d be right around 150 innings when he hits his limit for 2013, which is also the 150 innings he’ll roughly need before getting a promotion. ETA: a cup of coffee in 2013. But don’t be surprised if the Mets give him a chance to win a rotation spot in spring training next year.
As for Syndergaard, those six innings Sunday began the 150-innings clock in 2013. He threw 103 2/3 in 2012, so a limit around 140 this season seems likely. He’s already thrown 69 2/3 between high-A and Double-A, so if we assume roughly another 70 innings for Binghamton, he’d need around 75 Double-A or Triple-A innings to reach the 150 threshold. That puts a best-case timetable for Syndergaard of around late June, 2014 at Citi Field.
Personal opinion here? Pitching prospects are risky, but I love the potential of both of these guys.
Two other lesser pitching prospects to watch are Jake deGrom and Cory Mazzoni. In deGrom, the Mets have an older pitcher who didn’t dominate at Double-A this year, with a 4.80 ERA and just 6.6 strikeouts per nine. He got promoted anyway, and so far, has pitched similarly for Las Vegas. Again, results matter less there, and deGrom has now logged 71 innings at Double-A or higher. After 111 innings in 2012, he can fulfill his roughly 15o innings by the end of 2013, and be in the mix for New York in 2014.
In Mazzoni, the Mets have a pitcher who increased his K-rate dramatically in his second season at Double-A. Last season, it was 6.5 per nine over 144 1/3 innings at high-A and Double-A. This season, it is 9.8 per 9 over 49 2/3 innings at Double-A. Mazzoni is already at 130 Double-A innings, and if he continues at this higher level of performance, the Mets could take a look at him in September.
I’m less enamored with deGrom and Mazzoni, though that K-rate has me eager to see Mazzoni in person, which will happen later this summer.