NEW YORK -- Top pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are among 20 non-roster players the Mets have invited to Spring Training, the club announced on Friday.
Syndergaard and Montero will join right-handed pitchers Chase Bradford, Joel Carreno, John Church, Jeremy Hefner, Miguel Socolovich, Cory Mazzoni and Logan Verrett; left-handers Adam Kolarek and Jack Leathersich; catchers Taylor Teagarden and Kevin Plawecki; infielders Brandon Allen, Eric Campbell, Anthony Seratelli and Danny Muno; and outfielders Dustin Lawley, Cory Vaughn and Brandon Nimmo in camp at Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Of the 20 players, Montero provides some of the most intrigue. Coming off a strong season split between the top two levels of the Minors, he is primed to compete against Jenrry Mejia, Jacob deGrom and at least one veteran free agent for the fifth starter's job.
"We're in the market for someone who can compete for the fifth starter's position with Mejia, Montero, deGrom, whomever," general manager Sandy Alderson said earlier this week. "At this point, we're really not prepared to guarantee anybody the fifth spot. We'd like to see some veteran competition. We have a lot of young pitching that we've talked about. It's time for us to give them a chance to compete for a Major League job."
Syndergaard, the Mets' top overall prospect, will follow the path that Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler established in recent years, ostensibly competing for an Opening Day job while more realistically ticketed for Triple-A. If all goes according to plan, Syndergaard will receive a taste of the big leagues this spring before coming up for good around midsummer.
Nimmo, the club's first-round Draft pick in 2011, will participate in his first big league camp at age 20. While he also is not a realistic consideration for Opening Day, Nimmo will earn big league experience as he begins to climb his way to the upper levels of the Minors.
In the bullpen, Carreno, a former Blue Jays reliever, is among the early favorites to earn a spot. The Mets have also talked about converting Mazzoni, a starting pitcher, to relief work, and should take a long look at the left-handed Leathersich.
Teagarden has an outside chance to make the team as the backup catcher, while the younger Plawecki will receive his first taste of big league competition. Seratelli is a legitimate bench candidate, particularly if the Mets do not sign a natural backup middle infielder.
Hefner, whom the Mets non-tendered and re-signed earlier this winter, will spend his summer rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.