Right-hander Noah Syndergaard, 21, and outfielder Joc Pederson, 22, entered the year regarded as two of the best prospects in baseball. They played together on the U.S. team at the 2013 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, and both moved up to Triple-A this season, where they were among the 10 youngest players in the Pacific Coast League on Opening Day.
At times this season, Syndergaard and Pederson have both shown why they are ranked so highly in MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list (Syndergaard is No. 12 on the list; Pederson No. 18). They also both have experienced some growing pains against the older competition in the PCL.
Thursday, they will meet for the first time this season when Pederson and Albuquerque travel to Las Vegas to face Syndergaard on the first night of a five-game series. The game, which can be seen on MiLB.TV, begins at 10:05 p.m. ET.
Syndergaard, the Mets' No. 1 prospect, scuffled somewhat in the first half, but he has been on a roll for the last month. In Syndergaard's past five starts, he is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings, posting three quality starts in that stretch after making just two in his first 15 starts.
Pederson, meanwhile, enters the series mired in a slump. He has just one hit -- a home run -- in the past week, a stretch of 24 at-bats. While Pederson's slump has been particularly acute of late, it has persisted since the All-Star break. In the second half, Pederson is hitting .205/.356/.507 with seven home runs in 20 games.
Despite the recent downturn, Pederson, the Dodgers' No. 3 prospect, remains at or near the top of many PCL leaderboards. Pederson enters the series hitting .300/.427/.559 with 24 home runs and 25 stolen bases in 99 games this season. The 22-year old leads the league in on-base percentage, OPS and walks (78) and ranks second with 76 runs.
In addition to Syndergaard, a few other pitchers ranked in the Top 100 are slated to start Thursday, including Julio Urias (No. 17), Tyler Glasnow (No. 19), Carlos Rodon (No. 22), Lucas Sims (No. 70), Sean Manaea (No. 73), Luke Jackson (No. 76) and Anthony Ranaudo (No. 81). Fans can watch Jackson and Ranaudo on MiLB.TV, beginning with Ranaudo, Boston's No. 6 prospect, and Triple-A Pawtucket facing Charlotte and White Sox No. 4 prospect Micah Johnson.
The top White Sox prospect, Rodon has been used primarily as a reliever since he was selected third overall in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. He was expected to stay in the bullpen for the remainder of the season to help ease his transition to the Minor Leagues and manage his workload. However, on Thursday, Rodon is slated to make his first start for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, facing Potomac at 12:05 p.m. ET.
Top prospect probables
Tyler Anderson (Rockies' No. 12), Tulsa at Midland
Dylan Baker (Indians' No. 16), Carolina at Frederick
Christian Binford (Royals' No. 8), Northwest Arkansas vs. Corpus Christi
Ty Blach (Giants' No. 6), Richmond vs. Binghamton
Corey Black (Cubs' No. 20), Tennessee at Mobile
Tim Cooney (Cardinals' No. 10), Memphis vs. New Orleans
Daniel Corcino (Reds' No. 11), Pensacola vs. Jackson
Buck Farmer (Tigers' No. 8), Erie vs. New Hampshire
Jarlin Garcia (Marlins' No. 12), Greensboro at Hickory
Glasnow (Pirates' No. 1), Bradenton vs. Jupiter
Jackson (Rangers' No. 3), Round Rock at Nashville
Taylor Jungmann (Brewers' No. 11), Nashville vs. Round Rock
Branden Kline (Orioles' No. 9), Frederick vs. Carolina
Austin Kubitza (Tigers' No. 6), West Michigan at Lansing
Manaea (Royals' No. 3), Wilmington vs. Myrtle Beach
Cody Martin (Braves' No. 9), Gwinnett vs. Norfolk
Ranaudo (Red Sox's No. 6), Pawtucket vs. Charlotte
Enny Romero (Rays' No. 6), Durham vs. Buffalo
Joe Ross (Padres' No. 8), San Antonio at Arkansas
Sims (Braves' No. 2), Lynchburg at Salem
Syndergaard (Mets' No. 1), Las Vegas vs. Albuquerque
Urias (Dodgers' No. 2), Rancho Cucamonga at Inland Empire
Tyler Wagner (Brewers' No. 15), Brevard County at Tampa
Trevor Williams (Marlins' No. 6), Jupiter at Bradenton