The NL East has a crop of young talented pitchers on the way, and the New York Mets seem to be winning the arms race, although the Marlins are hot on their heels.
Zack Wheeler headlines a long list of Mets' power arms, and is scheduled to make his major league debut on Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves. The Mets are hoping that Wheeler will have as much success as Miami Marlins rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez has had thus far in 2013.
The 20-year-old Fernandez was considered a top-five prospect for the Marlins before the 2013 season. There are still some Mets fans who have not let go of the fact that the Mets selected Brandon Nimmo with their 2011 first-round draft pick (Nimmo is currently in Low-A ball) while Fernandez went to the Marlins with the very next pick.
Aside from Fernandez, who is no longer considered a prospect due to his innings pitched, here is a list of the top seven pitching prospects in the NL East.
Zack Wheeler is one of the few things that Mets fans have to look forward to in 2013.
The wait is finally over.
Wheeler will make his major league debut against the Atlanta Braves on June 18 in the second game of a double-header where fireballer Matt Harvey will pitch Game 1. Not only will Wheeler have to pitch in front of his home fans in Atlanta, but he will also have to follow one of this season's more dominant pitchers in Harvey.
No pressure, Zack.
Wheeler has good enough stuff to be better than 85 percent of the pitchers in the major leagues right now. He brings a high-90s fastball with wicked movement to go with a knee-buckling curveball. Tuesday could mark the beginning of something great in New York.
Noah Syndergaard is the heir apparent to be the Mets' top-rated prospect once Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud are playing with the big boys.
Syndergaard, who will turn out to be the key acquisition from the R.A. Dickey trade, is a tall and imposing figure on the mound. Standing 6'5", he looks as if he can dunk a basketball just as easily as he can whip a fastball by a batter.
His mechanics are effortless, and the ball explodes out of his hand with his high-90s fastball. His changeup is excellent, and while there have been some knocks on his curveball in the past, it looks like it is developing nicely. He keeps hitters off-balance, and when he needs to, can blow a 96 mph fastball by the hitter.
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has Syndergaard ranked No. 27 in his top-100 prospect list for 2013. That's the second-highest ranking for a pitching prospect in the NL East behind Wheeler at No. 1.
Syndergaard is currently playing High-A ball with the St. Lucie Mets, but look for him to get the bump to Double-A very soon.
Jesse Biddle isn't going to blow a fastball by most hitters, but he is one of the top prospects in the Phillies' organization.
The lefty has silky smooth mechanics, a solid curveball and a change-up that will make his fastball look a lot faster than it actually is when used effectively.
Biddle, a former 2010 first-round draft pick out of high school, has progressed through the system quickly and is now in Double-A. Look for Biddle to get the call to Triple-A very soon and be ready to make his major league debut in 2014.
Biddle is No. 55 on the top-100 prospect list of Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and is ranked as the fourth-best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball.
Like Jesse Biddle, Justin Nicolino is a left-handed pitcher with crisp mechanics, but not the type of guy that will blow the fastball by you.
Nicolino's fastball sits in the low 90s, but his strongest attribute is his ability to pitch. He keeps hitters off-balance by changing speeds and spotting his fastball well. He does give up some hits, but he keeps opposing base runners from crossing the plate, which is the key to his success.
Nicolino has had tremendous success at the lower levels of the minor leagues, but his true test will be once he gets up to Double-A and starts facing advanced hitters.
Nicolino is ranked No. 64 on the top-100 prospect list of Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and rated as the No. 7 left-handed pitching prospect in baseball.
Rafael Montero has raced through the New York Mets' farm system and finds himself at Triple-A Las Vegas after completely dominating Double-A hitters this season.
He is a short hop away from cracking the Mets' starting rotation.
What hasn’t been said about Montero already? He pounds the strike zone, works quickly, keeps hitters off-balance, can throw any pitch for a strike at any time, has pinpoint control and has the poise of an ace.
He is clearly ready for the next level, as it was often the same story when Montero pitched at the Double-A level with his domination.
Montero is another guy who isn't going to throw a fastball by anyone, but he understands the art of pitching. It will be interesting to see how his stuff translates to the major league level and if he will be able to get big league hitters out with the same success he has experienced in the minors.
Montero is not listed on the top-100 prospect list of Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.
Martin brings a 97 mph heater and a nasty slider to the ballpark with him every day. Much like Zack Wheeler, there have been questions about his command in the past, and the walks have been a problem. With a fastball in the high-90s, he could find himself in the bullpen some day.
Martin is pitching in Triple-A and is ranked No. 72 on the top-100 prospect list of Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.
The 6'6" right-handed Lucas Giolito was touted as one of the top pitching prospects in the 2012 MLB draft. High school pitchers who can fire the ball at 100 mph tend to be highly rated guys.
The problem is that Giolito has only pitched two innings of professional baseball.
In his first professional outing back in 2012, he was removed after experiencing some discomfort in his throwing elbow. Giolito later had Tommy John Surgery to replace a damaged UCL.
Giolito, still only 18 years old, recently started rehabbing his injured elbow and began throwing again. He told The Washington Post that he felt “really good,” following one of his recent bullpen sessions.
It's highly unlikely that Giolito will pitch in a game in 2013, but he's definitely a guy who has the potential to make a lot of noise on the NL East front in years to come.