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Mature Montero makes big league debut

5/14/2014
Rafael Montero walks and talks like he belongs. We'll find out if it's an act tonight. Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard is the New York Mets pitching prospect everyone has wanted to talk about.

Rafael Montero is the one most prepared to pitch in the major leagues now.

"His maturity is beyond his years as a pitcher," Mets manager Terry Collins said as he anxiously awaited Montero's big league debut on Wednesday night at Citi Field against the New York Yankees.

The Mets understand they're jumping the 23-year-old Montero directly from the minor leagues onto the biggest stage they can offer: a Subway Series matchup with Masahiro Tanaka, who has become the Yankees' ace. But they'll remind you that Montero isn't just any kid just up from the minors.

Montero made 24 starts at Triple-A Las Vegas, 16 last season and eight this year. He went 9-5 with a 3.25 ERA, with three walks and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

More than that, though, there's his personality, which was on display when he arrived in the Mets clubhouse Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Montero walked in looking like he belongs. When he met with the media, he admitted to excitement, but seemed a bit amused by a question about whether he feels ready for this.

"I've felt ready for a while now," he said, speaking through an interpreter.

It's that kind of confidence that earned Montero the nickname of "Little Pedro," as in Pedro Martinez.

"He's just got a knack for it," Collins said. "He's not afraid to pitch inside. He's a strike-thrower. He may not have the stuff of a Matt Harvey, but he's got a feel.

"He's not going to be intimidated."

The Mets believe he's ready for this. Starting Wednesday night, we'll find out if they're right.