PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - If the real thing looks anything like the sneak preview offered up Thursday at Tradition Field, big-league hitters soon will have their hands full with Mets pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard.
In an intrasquad game that served as the Mets' final tuneup before Grapefruit League play begins Friday against the Nationals, Syndergaard flashed the dominant arsenal that could vault him into the Mets' rotation by midseason.
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"I felt pretty good out there," said Syndergaard, who struck out five in two innings and allowed a run and four hits. "I kind of shocked myself a little bit. I wasn't expecting that my first time out there."
His fastball touched 98 mph on the radar gun and his curveball crossed the plate at 84 mph. The lethal combo made an impression on the crowd, which had given him a loud ovation when he took the mound.
"Everything you heard, you saw," manager Terry Collins said. "You heard he had a great arm, and you got it. You heard he had great presence, that he pounds the strike zone, and he did that. So there's going to be more discussion about him as we get into this camp because he's going to light some eyes up."
Syndergaard, 21, will make his Grapefruit League debut on Monday against the Braves.
"I'm excited," he said. "I'm a little nervous at the same time, first time facing a big-league lineup. So I'm going to go out there and do what I can. It's still a game."
In his first major-league camp, Syndergaard has done nothing but live up to the hype.
A towering presence on the mound, the 6-6, 240-pounder wasted little time establishing that this would be a personal showcase. With most of the Mets' upper management sitting in the stands behind home plate, Syndergaard unleashed a nasty curveball to whiff first-round draft pick Brandon Nimmo.
Syndergaard's only issue came when he fell behind in the count.
"The hitters, they're not just up there looking at stuff," Collins said. "Obviously, I think Noah threw the ball real well today. He's got a great arm, great stuff. I can't wait to see him in a real game situation where he's got to make some pitches."
That next challenge comes on Monday in Lake Buena Vista, where Syndergaard's parents will be in attendance to witness his first taste of competition against big-league hitters.
"How could you not like what you saw, for heaven's sakes?" Collins said. "I don't know how hard he threw but he was firm, and even in a game like this, you better get to the heater because you don't want to try to hit that curveball, right now especially."