Mayo: Wheeler and Syndergaard among Top 10 right-handed pitching prospects

Evaluating prospects is far from a perfect science, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a little satisfaction in seeing the ‘experts’ sing the praises of the Mets young pitchers.  Matt Harvey has graduated to the big league rotation and now fans await the arrival of the team’s top pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler.

Today Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, who will break down the top 10 prospects at each position leading up to the unveiling of his ’2013 Top 100 list’ on January 29th,  revealed his top right-handed pitching prospects for the upcoming season.  As Mayo points out, of his 2012 list, “six pitched in the big leagues last year and one finished fifth in American League Rookie of the Year Award voting.”

For Mets fans, that could mean good news as the MLB.com ‘Draft and prospect expert’ listed two of the team’s prospects on his most recent list; 22-year-old Zack Wheeler and recently acquired Noah Syndergaard.  Mayo ranked Wheeler behind Dylan Bundy of the Orioles, Taijuan Walker of the Mariners, and Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, saying:

After being picked sixth overall by the Giants in 2009 and signing for $3.3 million, Wheeler was traded to the Mets for Carlos Beltran in ‘11. Wheeler split time between Double-A and Triple-A last season, pitching well at both levels while generating a lot of strikeouts. Wheeler’s fastball and curveball are both considered plus, and he complements them with a slider and changeup. Wheeler has made the trade with the Giants look like a coup for the Mets, as he has all the tools to become a frontline starter.”

While Sandy Alderson hasn’t ruled out the idea of Wheeler breaking camp as a member of New York’s rotation, he indicated it was unlikely and not a preferred situation.  Syndergaard, who along with Travis d’Arnaud, was a major piece of the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays, is only 20-years-old but rounds out Mayo’s top 10 list:

Syndergaard was taken in the sandwich round in 2010 by the Blue Jays out of the Texas high school ranks. His full-season debut in 2012 was a big success, and he was named to the Midwest League All-Star team. Syndergaard was sent to the Mets in the R.A. Dickey trade and could end up being the best player in the deal, though it may take more time for him to develop. The big right-hander has a ton of arm strength to go along with three pitches that could be at above-average when all is said and done.”

The future is far from certain, but it’s hard to argue that the Mets farm system is turning the corner and pitching will be a big part of what brings this club back to relevance.  Fans just hope things pan out as many predict and Sandy Alderson’s plan for the future will actually be realized sooner rather than later.

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