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As they've done for two years running, the New York Mets are inviting their top pitching prospect to spring training to compete for a roster spot. Right-hander Noah Syndergaard will report to Port St. Lucie to participate in big league camp in just over a month, along with 19 other non-roster players the Mets have invited.
Rafael Montero, the organization's second best pitching prospect, will also be there. He is considered further along at age 23 and is more likely to make the team.
Syndergaard, 21, will hope for the same success as his predecessors, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, as he participates in his first spring training. Both were developed well by the Mets and have found success early in their major league careers.
Syndergaard was a first round pick by the Blue Jays in 2010 before joining New York in the 2012 trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto. He reached Double-A last season and compiled a 3.06 ERA through 117 2/3 innings split between the Mets' St. Lucie (A+) and Binghamton (AA) affiliates. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranks him as the 12th best prospect in baseball.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told MLB.com Montero actually has a chance to earn a rotation spot out of spring. Montero went 5-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 16 starts at Triple-A Las Vegas this past year.
"We have a lot of young pitching that we've talked about. It's time for us to give them a chance to compete for a Major League job," Alderson said.
The Mets figure to be a better team in 2014, but they could use any starting pitching help they can get. All-Star Matt Harvey will miss the entire season after having Tommy John surgery and Johan Santana was cut loose at the end of the year.
The Mets did sign veteran Bartolo Colon as a free agent, which should help. He joins Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee in the Mets' projected rotation. That leaves one spot up for grabs.
Montero is in the mix with Jenrry Mejia and Jacob deGrom, according to Alderson. Either way we'll probably get a look at both Montero and Syndergaard in the big leagues this season. If either of them pan out as well as Wheeler and especially Harvey has, the Mets could be in good shape moving forward with their starting pitching.