NEW YORK—Even though he had just completed his first full professional season, righthander Noah Syndergaard proved to be the linchpin of the Mets' seven-player deal with the Blue Jays.
While the 20-year-old Texan cedes the prospect spotlight to catcher Travis d'Arnaud for now, Syndergaard's availability gave general manager Sandy Alderson the confidence to trade R.A. Dickey to Toronto.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said the two clubs were deadlocked until Syndergaard entered the discussion.
For Alderson, the righty represented a player with "tremendous upside potential" to go along with d'Arnaud, a polished 23-year-old backstop who ought to be ready for New York this season.
Syndergaard is much farther away—but his promise is immense. He frequently dominated low Class A Midwest League competition last year, going 8-5, 2.60 with 122 strikeouts in 104 innings for Lansing. His rate of 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings led all MWL pitchers with at least 100 innings.
Syndergaard's fastball resides in the mid-90s, and he has shown progress with his changeup, curveball and slider. His frame adds to his appeal, and those who've seen him this winter say he's taller and more physical than his official listing: 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds.
Syndergaard entered his senior year of 2010 at Legacy High near Arlington, Texas, with a fastball in the mid-80s. He intended to accept a scholarship from Dallas Baptist as a position player, but his body matured as the season progressed and his velocity climbed into the 90s. Scouts flocked to see him.
"First scrimmage of my senior year in the winter, I noticed that I picked up some velocity," Syndergaard said on a conference call after the trade. "And every game after that, I started picking up more and more velocity, and more teams started looking at me."
"All of a sudden, our catcher couldn't catch him anymore," added David Walden, Syndergaard's coach. "He was throwing so hard."
The total package enticed Toronto to make him the 38th pick that June, and his potential enticed the Mets to trade their best pitcher.
• The team also tacked spring invites onto minor league deals for corner outfielder Andrew Brown and middle infielder Omar Quintanilla. The latter played 29 games for the Mets in 2012 before being traded to the Orioles.