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Future Success

by Julian Atienza, JT Mercurio

Former Met Howard Johnson watches Brandon Nimmo's BP

Mets & Yankees Prospects Showcase Talents at Futures Game

The Futures Game should not be dismissed as a game of young flash-in-the-pan players. Many faces of MLB franchises have graduated from the Futures Game, their first step into stardom. Met captain David Wright and the Yankees best hitter Robinson Cano both played in 2004. This year the Mets had two players on the U.S. team and one on the World team and the Yankees were represented by one player on the World squad. Here’s a brief look at who might be the next studs in the Big Apple.

U.S. Squad with JT

Noah Syndergaard:

After a Cy Young award winning year for R.A. Dickey came to a close, Met fans were forced to say goodbye to a knuckleballer who rarely disappointed and consistently filled seats. What went seemingly unnoticed to many fans was the acquisition of a young right handed pitcher named Noah Syndergaard.  At the ripe age of 20, Noah is simply mowing down batters in high- A and Double- A ball compiling a 2.69 ERA and a 90/20 strikeout to walk ratio to boot. Throwing heat, throwing strikes, and mastering a small arsenal of secondary pitches have allowed Syndergaard to succeed during his time in the minors. Seeing as he rightfully earned a spot as the starting pitcher on the USA roster for the All Star Futures game, it would certainly be a good idea to get to know Noah.

Surprised doesn’t necessarily describe how Syndergaard felt when he heard that he had been traded.  He had become comfortable with the organization that drafted him out of high school, and certainly did not expect to be sent packing, or at least not that soon.  Regardless, coming to New York to play an organized sport (especially baseball) is seemingly unmatched, so there was no question that he was excited about this new opportunity.  Life in the Minors has been a grind so far, especially considering that he’s been a part of multiple organizations so early in his baseball career, but alas, the necessary steps must be taken in order to make it to the big show.  In regards to the future, let’s just say Mr. Syndergaard is looking forward to pitching behind a couple of guys named Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.                                                                                                                                                                                     

Final Line for Noah: 1 IP, 1H, 1K, 0 ER, 0 BB

Flickr || Paul Hasdall

Brandon Nimmo:

Brandon Nimmo is a product of the Mets’ 2011 draft.  Taken in the first round, Nimmo shows plenty of promise for a 20 year old making his way through the minor leagues.  From the Gulf Coast League, to the Appalachian league, to the New York Penn League, and now the South Atlantic league as a member of the Savannah Sand Gnats, this outfielder has made an impression on fans and scouts within the organization.  After much success after he was drafted, it seems as though high expectations are keeping Nimmo on the quieter side of discussions.  So far, he is batting .261 with only 1 home run in 60+ appearances.  Compiling 82 k’s in 234 at bats also might hinder some opinions, but with solid all around fundamentals, one can only wonder how long a drought like this can last.  After all, he was fan voted to be a member of team USA.

Brandon could not express enough just how blessed he was to be standing in the Mets clubhouse and to be taking part in this years All Star Futures game festivities.  He understands the struggles that come with being in the minor leagues, but remains thankful to his teammates and fans for giving him the opportunity to play in the game.  Looking to the future, Nimmo knows that he has to continue to work harder and harder each day in order to have a permanent spot in that clubhouse.  While he had a campaign to get fans to vote for him to play in this year’s future game, he hopes to one day take part in a similar campaign, just on a larger scale- for the game played on Tuesday, rather than the game played on Sunday. I think you know what I’m referring to.

Final Line for Brandon: 0-2(L6, 4-3), 0BB, 0K, 2 LOB.

World Team with Julian

Rafael Montero:

Starting opposite fellow Met farmhand Syandergaard, Rafael Montero would not be outdone by Noah’s scoreless inning. Montero needed just nine pitches to mow down the first three U.S. hitters, using only his fastball and slider. The 22 year old Rafael hails from Higuerito, Dominican Republic, stands six feet tall and weighs just 170 pounds. But he is able to rush his fastball into the mid- and high- 90s with strong command to boot, as evidenced by those nine pitches. Rafael has a very repeatable, simple delivery with an over-the-top arm angle. He falls off the mound to the first base side after he releases but not quite to the same degree as Bob Gibson or Francisco Rodriguez. Rafael has risen quickly through the Mets farm system to AAA Las Vegas and has a 3.07 ERA in 18 starts in Binghamton and Vegas. He has 101 strikeouts to 20 base on balls.

Montero spoke through a translator after the game and said that he was “incredibly happy to have gotten to pitch [in Citi Field] and maybe one day I will get to pitch here [as a Met].” Montero also told reporters that he has a changeup and sinker which he didn’t get to show on Sunday. When asked if he expected to be in the big leagues soon he replied, “Absolutely…God willing.” And when asked about the Met fans he said, “They were great, excellent.”  If Montero stays on track he indeed might be the closest of the four New York system players to the majors, strengthening a Met rotation with five solid, young starters.

Final Line for Montero: 1.0 IP, 0ER, 0H, 0BB, 0K

Flickr || Paul Hasdall

Rafael DePaula:

The only pinstripe prospect in this year’s Futures Game hails from La Victoria, Dominican Republic. He’s 6’2”, 212 pounds, 22 years old, right-handed and has a vice-grip handshake. Rafael was signed by the Yankees in 2010 but visa issues prevented him from pitching in the U.S. until last year. Since then he’s progressed through Single-A Charleston to High-A Tampa compiling a 3.65 ERA in 16 games with 108 strikeouts in 79 innings pitched. DePaula has walked 28 batters and showed some of that wildness in his inning of work on Sunday, hitting Houston prospect George Springer on the shoulder. That said, he was able to escape a jam; runners on first and second with one out, unscathed. Rafael showed a mid-90s fastball and a big 72mph curve that he was not afraid to throw in full-counts.

DePaula spoke through a translator after the game and said that he was “super-excited to pitch in New York” and that he would work hard so that one day New York could be his home. He went on to say that the Futures Game was a wonderful experience but said “one day I hope I am in the real All Star Game.” With his ambition and work ethic this game might give Rafael DePaula a taste for the big city that will accelerate his rise through the minor leagues.

Final Line for DePaula: 1.0 IP, O ER, 1 H, 0BB, 1K, 1 HBP

J.T. spoke with Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Nimmo in the clubhouse before the game, listen to the interviews below.

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Noah Syndergaard Brandon Nimmo