LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Add Terry Collins to those singing the praises of Noah Syndergaard after watching the top prospect's two-scoreless-inning performance in an eventual 6-2 win against the Atlanta Braves on Monday at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
"He's a big, tough kid. He's got all the traits of the good ones," Collins said. "He takes stuff seriously. He's not joking around. He didn't joke around even after he came out of the game."
Syndergaard Collins noted Monday's outing was important, even though it was an early Grapefruit League game. Syndergaard, unfazed by the competition, surrendered only one hit in a 30-pitch effort spanning two innings.
"Today was a big test," Collins said. "... You've got the Atlanta Braves. And you've got a leadoff hitter [Jason Heyward] that is as big as you are getting in the batter's box to start the game. You're not in Kansas anymore. You're where the big guys play. I thought he handled it great. You don't see a lot of people throw three fastballs by Evan Gattis. That won't happen very much. He just made pitches he had to make.
"There are certainly some things we've got to get him to do better. But, right now, he's on track to be special."
Collins noted Syndergaard certainly has fastball command. When the Mets drastically cut back Syndergaard's innings late last year at Double-A Binghamton, the right-hander's pitch counts were minimal because he was so efficient.
"When they cut him back to five innings, he was [at] 62 pitches," Collins said. "So he doesn't use a lot of pitches. That means he pounds the strike zone. That makes him that much better.
"As we know, when everybody starts to get in shape, he's got to make pitches with it. You just can't challenge some guys. But, right now, he's learning all that. And as we get deeper into spring training, he's going to continue to be run out there and we'll see how he goes about it."