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Syndergaard 'on a new level' against Mets hitters

Young righty wows during live batting-practice session
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins shook his head and turned away from the batting cage.

"Son of a ..." the manager muttered, holding his arms as if he were measuring a trophy bass. "His two-seamer's running that far."

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins shook his head and turned away from the batting cage.

"Son of a ..." the manager muttered, holding his arms as if he were measuring a trophy bass. "His two-seamer's running that far."

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Had the Mets' schedule not been tacked on a clubhouse wall earlier that morning, it would have been easy to forget that National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate Steven Matz was also throwing a live batting-practice session a few hundred feet away. With respect to Matz, Matt Harvey and anyone else working out Thursday at Mets camp, it was Noah Syndergaard who offered the morning's must-see event. It was Syndergaard whom Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen watched intently, Syndergaard whom owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon wandered over to see.

Camera shutters snapped with each four-seam fastball. Fans peered through holes in a chain-link fence. The Minor Leaguers selected to stand in against Syndergaard mostly kept quiet, sometimes looking back to ask catcher Kevin Plawecki if he, too, could quite believe what was happening.

"Mid-90s [mph] and above," Plawecki said later. "It had to be. Even when we were warming up, it was coming in hot. He was on a new level today."

In discussing his battery-mate, Plawecki dropped the phrase "midseason form" on multiple occasions -- and even Syndergaard admitted he felt no differently than in June or July. Always an avid weightlifter, Syndergaard added Pilates classes to his workout regimen over the winter, though he swears that's not the secret to his success. What is, he can't pinpoint.

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"I wish I really knew the answer to why I feel like I'm already in midseason form," Syndergaard said. "I kind of shocked myself how good I feel so early in Spring Training."

If anything, Syndergaard alluded to the 198 2/3 innings he pitched last year as reason for his current form, citing the brief offseason as a factor both in retaining his pitching shape and the muscle memory of his mechanics. If adding 63 2/3 innings to his previous career high comes back to haunt Syndergaard during the long summer ahead, it's not even remotely on his mind this month in Port St. Lucie.

"This kid's coming so fast, it's really remarkable what he's done," Collins said. "He learns fast."

And Syndergaard is, at age 23, very much still learning. Already this spring, he is tinkering with what Collins called a "cutter" -- more accurately, a hybrid slider that pitching coach Dan Warthen previously taught Harvey and Jacob deGrom with much success. Though he used it on rare occasions late last season, Syndergaard plans to integrate the pitch more fully into his repertoire this spring, adding it to his curveball, four-seam fastball and two-seamer -- the latter pitch devilish enough to cross up Plawecki during Thursday's live BP.

Afterward, Plawecki approached Syndergaard to shake his hand, slap his teammate on the back and debrief him on the morning's events.

"You looked good," Plawecki said.

"I felt good," Syndergaard replied.

Added Plawecki: "That's really the extent of it. There's not much else to say."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

 

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard