I was lucky enough to be introduced to Noah Syndergaard’s agent, Kyle Dison of Xclusive Sports Management, recently and he graciously provided me with the opportunity to interview Noah today. As Jays fans who pay close attention to the draft and prospects in general already know, Noah was the first Jays draftee to sign (to our knowledge) and officially became a Jay as a result. The fact that an agreement was reached so quickly allows for Noah’s attention to turn immediately to proving the Jays right.
Kyle had this to say about Noah and the Jays:
"“The Jays really believe he could be in the bigs in three years. He has huge upside and will be a front line starter. He already has an above average fastball and an average curveball with the ability to make it a plus pitch. He will refine this pitch this year and his change up is fringe avg with an ability to be avg. Noah is mechanically sound. All his improvements over this year were his doing through his hard work ethic. He put himself in a great position by being a competitor and staying confident and humble. This shows his makeup is off the charts.”"
That’s something that is echoed within the interview by Noah and something that puts him on a very quick time-line to the majors. It’s a good thing he signed quickly, because whatever progress he makes this season as a result of the signing is a bonus and a huge help to his progression and learning curve.
Kyle also added:
"“The Jays wanted to sign Noah and get him in the system as quick as possible so he could begin his journey to the big leagues. Noah also wanted to begin his baseball career with the Blue Jays as soon as possible. Now Noah gets to play baseball everyday and the Blue Jays get another power arm in their system.”"
So we know 2 things right away: the Jays wanted to get a great look at what Noah has to offer and wanted to begin working him up to see how far they can bring him this season, and we know that Noah’s intentions from the beginning are to play baseball and to do so for the Blue Jays ASAP.
What a great start to a professional career. No hassle, no mess, all baseball.
Here is the basic information you need to know before reading the interview:
- Noah is a RHP who pitched for Mansfield Legacy High School and who was committed to Dallas Baptist University before the draft.
- He stands at 6’5″, 200lbs, but may grow some more as he is only 17 years old.
- He has an outstanding curve and even better fastball, with a work in progress change up.
- Noah was the first Jays pick to sign and as per Jays policy, financial details will not be disclosed.
I will be adding links and videos at the bottom of this post, below the interview transcript, and hope that between the interview and links all Jays fans will know as much as possible about this great young player the Jays acquired in the draft.
Here is the interview transcript as recorded the afternoon of June 12th, 2010:
Mat: “Let’s get the interview started. Where does you ancestry come from?”
Noah: “I know my dad’s side is Dutch and my mom’s side is Scottish and German”
Well, that explains the great height and tremendous strength!
Mat: “Were they baseball fans before you started playing”
Noah: “Well Actually no, my mom didn’t care much for baseball but then she started making me play I guess when I was young. But my grand parents, they definitely wanted me to play football.”
Mat: “Ah, a football family eh? Which team did they cheer for? ”
Noah: “My grandparents were die hard Dallas Cowboys fans.”
Mat: “Nice. I do know Football is huge in your part of the world. At what age did you start playing baseball and who taught you how to play?”
Noah: “I started playing when I was around 7, and my dad helped out quite a bit in teaching me how to play. Like I would have a lesson, and he would pay attention to what the instructor said and was able to help me out during a game, and when I was having a problem with an at bat, he would help me out”
Mat: “When did you start playing in a league competitively when you felt like games were getting a little more intense?”
Noah: “This is a funny story actually because I played recreational baseball when I was young, and I started playing soccer when I was young, I started playing soccer when I was about 4. And one select coach actually saw me playing soccer and wanted be to come play for a select team without even knowing that I played baseball, and that was probable around at about age 10 I would say.”
Mat: “Wow, really. So you must be getting ready to get settled in to watch Team USA kick off their 2010 World Cup.”
Noah: “Nah, not really. I played soccer until I was 12, because I love baseball way more than I love soccer.”
Mat: “I don’t blame you, there’s a lot of people around that find soccer a lot harder to watch than baseball.”
Mat: “What team did you cheer for while you were growing up?”
Noah: “Um, well I don’t really have a favorite baseball team, but I always root for the Rangers.”
Mat: “Who was your favorite player? You can give me one position player and one pitcher if you’d like.”
Mat: “And does one position player stand out?”
Noah: “Josh Hamilton”
Mat: “What was it that you like most about those pitchers?”
Noah: “It’s their pitching mentality and I guess you can say that I resemble them, being big and tall, and hard throwing.”
Great call, and if he can emulate their achievements, the Jays are in for a treat! Changing gears…
Mat: “Do you have a favorite baseball movie, and why is it your favorite?”
Noah: “Major League, it’s just hilarious.”
Mat: “Do you have a driver’s license, and if so, since you’re going to be heading into the money what is your dream car that you would get in a heartbeat?”
Mat: “Nice, I approve on all counts!”
Although, I’m not so sure the Jays will approve of the Ducati….
Mat: “Do you wear a specific number, is there special meaning behind it and is it the same number you would want to wear as a Blue Jay?”
Noah: “I wear number 19, for no specific reason. I used to wear 10, but then I switched to 19. And I definitely want to keep wearing that number if possible.”
Look out Jose Bautista, you may need a number change if you’re still around in 3-4 years!
Mat: “Which coach or person would you say helped you out the most in you amateur career just until you turn pro right now?”
Noah: “I would say one of my good friends, Allen Davis. He played professional for about 10 years, for the Phillies and Dodgers. He used to just always help me out and he’s always been there for me. He’s kind of like my big brother.”
Mat: “Right on, that’s always good to have. What was the best piece of advice he ever gave you?”
Noah: “It was recently actually. He said ‘There’s 2 types of players. There are players that are drafted and they think they have just an easy way up to the big leagues and people who get drafted that realize they’re not in the big leagues and so work harder to get there.’
Allen Davis is a 6’4″ 220 lbs LHP that was selected in the 24th rd of the 1998 amateur draft by the LAD. He made it as high as AAA for the Phillies and had decent stats all of the way through the minors. He has a career 3.93 ERA over 988 minor league innings, with 708 SO, 248 walks, a 1.33 whip.
Mat: “That’s awesome. That’s a really good piece of advice.”
Mat: “What was the best game you ever pitched in the minors and why did you like it so much?”
Noah: “I would say it was the 3rd playoff game against a team, Birdville High School. I ended up having 15 strike outs, and they were kind of on my fastball so I had to switch to my curve ball which I hadn’t had to do pretty much all season and my curve ball was really effective.”
Mat: “So it gave you that extra boost in confidence in that secondary pitch”
Noah: “Yes, definitely.”
Mat: “When you were being scouted, how many times did the Jays actually scout you that you know of, and did they let you know in advance?”
Noah: “Well, I usually let them know what my pitching schedule was. I’m not really sure how many games they were at, but I do remember one game where there was 6 Blue Jays scouts there, with the General Manager there and the Scouting Director.”
Mat: “Did a lot of other teams show any interest and did you expect to go to any particular team before the draft took place?”
Noah: “No, I was just concentrating on playing baseball, and my agent actually, Kyle Dison with Xclusive sports management, and also my family helped out quite a bit with all the teams. I just concentrated on playing baseball.”
Mat: “Great, that’s always nice to have, a good entourage that lets you separate those things.”
Noah: “Yes, definitely”
Mat: “There’s a quote from Richard Griffin who wrote an article in the Toronto Star that kind of pointed to the fact that the Jays kind of went behind the lines when they drafted you in the sandwich round because Baseball America didn’t have ranked in their top 200 for the draft. How did that make you feel in terms of Baseball America’s ranking and do you pay any attention to that?”
Noah: “I wasn’t really worried about the media. I know what type of pitcher I am, I know my caliber, and I’m just going to go out and pitch my game and be successful.”
Mat: “Yeah, everything I’ve read about what your stuff is like definitely points to you being well worth the sandwich pick. I’m sure Baseball America’s job of ranking all of those prospects isn’t easy or clear cut, so I’m sure you were on a lot of people’s top 40 list, not just the Jays.”
Noah: “Yeah, last summer I was kind of under the radar and I wasn’t a person who’s name was mentioned pretty commonly.”
Mat: “And basically they saw the fastball heat up and started to take notice I imagine”
Entering the Jays quick fire question mode
Mat: “If you needed some advice when you got to the Jays, who would you approach?”
Noah: “I would say Vernon Wells. He went to a high school around where I live”
Mat: “Have you ever been to Rogers Center, and if not do you plan on making a visit?”
Noah: “Yeah, sometime in the future I plan on checking it out. I’ve been doing some research on Toronto. I’ve never been there but I’ve heard it’s a very beautiful city.”
Mat: “Do you plan on following any other sports in Toronto, like I know a lot of the guys you’ll see in the stands as they go watch Raptors games or they go watch Leafs games? Do you follow any of those other sports closely or are you someone that leaves those things alone?”
Noah: “Well, yeah, I’d go to some Maple Leafs games because my best friend is a die hard hockey fan and he’s got me really interested in it. So he made me promise to take him up there and see a Leafs game with him”
Mat: “Well, the Canadian fans will love you for that for sure!”
Mat: “So, you’re aware that Alex Anthopolous is making a lot of changes in Toronto and you’re aware of how many other pitchers he drafted in this draft. Do you think that motivates you into being a better pitcher and standing out?”
Noah: “Definitely. I have a great work ethic. So I’m going to go out there and be the best I can be and make it to the big leagues.”
Mat: “Have the Jays told you at which level they intend to let you begin your pro career?”
Noah: “I’m starting out in Tampa, in Rookie ball.”
Mat: “For your routine before a game, is there anything specific that you eat or drink or a type of music?”
Noah: “Well, before our high school games I use to go get a Quiznos sandwich, and then eh, I would usually take batting practice and go to the dugout and play my iPod a little bit, listen to some rap music.”
Mat: “Right on, any artist in particular?”
Noah: “Nah, not really”
Mat: “What’s the one thing you think you need to work on when you get to Tampa to get your career going in the right direction?”
Noah: “Well, I can always work on anything. I’m not perfect, so everything can be improved.”
*What a great and refreshing response to that question – exactly what you want to hear from a young player. Bryce Harper could use a few pointers from Noah here….carrying on..
Mat: “That’s a great attitude to have for sure. Is there a particular pitch that you’d like to add to your repertoire that you kind of know would give you that extra edge?”
Noah: “Well, I kind of experimented with a splitter, but my high school coach took that away from me this year but I’d like to start throwing that, I think it’s pretty good.”
Mat: “It’s definitely a popular pitch to learn nowadays when people see guys like Roy Halladay have so much success with it, they definitely take notice and want to add it.” “Especially at your height, I think it would do you real well.”
Mat: “You basically rely mostly on your fastball right now. It’s sits regularly between 90 and 93, and can they say you reach 94-95 MPH, and I was just watching a video where it definitely looks like a powerful pitch. Do you think that as you get a little older and you add a little more size and strength that it’ll actually get a little bit faster, or do you think it’ll sit where it is right now?”
Noah: “Yeah, well I guess as I go on in a game in the later innings my fastball actually gets a lot better. I remember one time in the 5th or 6th inning I hit 98 once, but I definitely see in the future that it’ll get better as I mature and get stronger.”
One word: wow! Roger Clemens was the last pitcher to hit that mark with the Jays. Makes you want to press fast forward now, doesn’t it?
Mat: “Yeah, because that’s a scary thought if you can get that pitch to 96-98 MPH -not saying that you would pitch there regularly, but that you could hit it when you want to it definitely gives you that strike out pitch that Ubaldo Jimenez and other pitchers are using really well right now.” “Your curve ball also seems really popular with scout ratings. There are some that are saying it’s above average and some are saying it’s already a plus pitch, who taught you how to throw it?”
Noah: “My pitching coach this year. We just got a new pitching coach at my high school and he spent a lot of time with pitchers, and really helped me out with that pitch.”
Mat: “Right on. What do see as your time-line for you to get to the Blue Jays. Are you putting a time-line on or are you taking it one game at a time?”
Noah: “Um, I can see myself making it to the pros in about 3 years at some point.”
Mat: “So that would make you how old? Your..”
Noah: “I’m 17 right now, so I would be 20.”
Mat: “That’s a pretty good and ambitious time-line, that’s awesome to hear.”
Some would call this cocky, I call it being confident in your abilities and focused on pushing yourself to achieve nothing but your absolute best. I love that attitude, and so will Jays fans. I’d also point to Mike Montgomery as a great comparison in this case in terms of focus. He knows he can be the best, and he accepts nothing less from himself. Good for Michael and KC, and good for the Jays and Noah!
Slowing things down to the “human aspect” of things…
Mat: “I’ll finish the interview off with a couple of easy personal questions that comes from the Jim Callis and 24 rants on his chats, are there any TV shows yo watch regularly or movies you love?”
Noah: “The TV shows I like to watch are Two and a Half Men, Big Bang Theory, and also That 70s Show.”
Mat: “Good calls. For the lady fans that we have up here, is Noah attached or is he single?”
Noah: “I do have a girlfriend, yes.”
Mat: “Right on, and what does she do, does she have any plans for College?”
Noah: “She’s actually going to Dallas Baptist University, that’s where I was committed to go, and she’s going there to play soccer.”
Mat: “Is there anything else you’d like Jays fans to know about you and how excited you are to be a Jay?”
Noah: “I just can’t wait to be a Blue Jay. I kind of am a Blue Jay, but I’m definitely excited to be a Blue Jay.”
The interview ended shortly thereafter and I let Noah know we’ll be keeping close tabs on him as he climbs the ladder to the big leagues. He is definitely someone who sounded confident in his abilities, who has a great group of people surrounding him, and who is clearly focused exclusively on getting better and making the big leagues ASAP. The Jays, in my opinion, really got a gem when they drafted Noah and his ceiling seems to be extremely high. His attitude towards the game, skill set, and the willingness to learn anything and everything he can is something that you can’t put a price on and something I am certain will pay huge dividends for the Jays for years to come.
If the other young guns the Jays drafted are as high quality people as Noah is, the Jays are in for one heck of a ride over the next decade. The rise to the top of the AL East seems imminent as the other powerhouses get older and fill their rosters with expensive and aging players. Meanwhile, the Jays have been able to remain competitive AND young, and added to the potential of their rotation by adding powerful and limitless arms like Noah’s to the depths of the minors. Coaching in the Jays organization in terms of pitching is about as great as you can get, with the track record to prove it, and Noah seems intent on absorbing everything they throw at him. Will he be in Toronto at age 20? I can’t make that call, but I will tell you one thing, he has the attitude and stuff to make it happen. The only thing he’s going to need from the Jays is the opportunity to prove himself right. If he gets that, I know he’ll make his (and the Jays) steep time-line.
Here is a video of Noah with flashes of his great fastball and knee-buckling curve ball. You can see why his coach in High School was intent on adding the curve and what a great job he did in coaching it.
Here are a few links to articles about Noah: