Minor league baseball players never want to spend too much time in one town—it’s all about advancing to “The Show.” So for Noah Syndergaard, opening a second straight season in Las Vegas as a member of the 51s (the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets) has to be frustrating. Then again, the 6-foot-4 right-hander is Baseball America’s No. 11 prospect for a reason: He’s really good, so it’s only a matter of time before the Mets come calling. Catch Syndergaard while you can at Cashman Field, where the 51s open their home season at 7:05 p.m. April 17 against the Fresno Grizzlies.
What’s your mindset like opening your second season here?
I’m glad to be back in Vegas, but it’s not the ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is to pitch in New York and win a World Series with the Mets. But for now I’m going to enjoy my time here and get better on the field. I try not to pay attention to [getting called up]. I paid attention to it a lot last year, and that was a big learning experience. … It affected me. This year I feel a lot more comfortable putting all that stuff out of my mind.
Are you ready to take on major league hitters?
Most definitely. I went through major league spring training this year and last year, and felt like I had a lot of success throwing against the best hitters in the world. And both Terry [Collins, Mets manager] and Sandy [Alderson, Mets general manager] said the difference they saw in me from before to now is like night and day. They have a lot of confidence in me, and that gave me more confidence.
What do you make of living in Las Vegas and pitching at hitter-friendly Cashman Field?
Last year was my first time visiting Vegas, and I loved every bit of it. Being from a small town in Texas, seeing the lights driving down Las Vegas Boulevard, I really enjoyed it. And I love pitching here. All you hear are horror stories about the [Pacific Coast League], how it’s all hitters’ parks, but you’ve just got to be able to handle adversity and keep the ball down. … If you can pitch here, you can pitch anywhere.