DeGrom’s development: What’s been said, since 2012

Sarah Langs, Intern & Special Contributor

In the most recent edition of the Mostly Mets podcast, presented by Caesars AC, hosts Toby Hyde and Rob Brender took an auditory look back at Jacob deGrom’s career with the Mets organization. Here are a few of the highlights…

DeGrom didn’t actually become a pitcher until more than halfway through college.

“My junior year at Stetson is when I really started pitching,” deGrom said in 2012, the day after his first start for Single-A Savannah. “I started out short and was going to be a closer, and then about halfway through the year I got converted into a starter. … So that’s where it all started.”


MLB: New York Mets at Milwaukee Brewers


As a college shortstop in 2008, he hit .243. The following season, again primarily as a shortstop, he hit .258, but made one appearance out of the bullpen throwing a scoreless eighth inning. DeGrom struck out one batter and allowed no baserunners for a perfect inning. He started at shortstop that day, going 1-4 with a run scored.

Then, in 2010, his junior year, he made 12 starts and 17 appearances overall. He went 4-5, also notching two saves, with a 4.48 ERA. Though it’s high for MLB standards, he actually led the team in ERA with that number. He threw 82.1 innings in 2010, second-most on his team, and struck out 56 batters — also second-most. DeGrom also hit .263 that year with one home run.

The Mets drafted deGrom in 2010. He pitched in a few games that year, but then underwent Tommy John surgery. He resumed his career in 2012 after recovery…


 


“Big, tall righthander with ¾ delivery plus fastball,”Ron Romanick said of deGrom in 2012. “Really good changeup. And got a lot of movement. And a nice little slider for a breaking ball. He’s very athletic, and, again, a converted shortstop, he’s just kind of getting his pitching career underway. But again, I’m expecting good things out of him, wanted to get him out in the long-season club and he’s done really well in extended. And he certainly earned a promotion to here.”

There’s mention of his fastball, changeup, and slider. A curveball — which he now throws, too — was part of his development as a pitcher, but more on that later…

On June 23, 2012, the day after his eighth start with Savannah, when he gave up a run over 6 innings, he spoke more about his adjustment to pitching in Single-A.

“I’ve just really learned that I’ve got to trust my stuff and just locate and try to get ahead of people and just trust what I have,” he said.

DeGrom finished 2012 with a 2.43 ERA in 19 starts in Savannah and Advanced-A St. Lucie.

He started 2013 where he left off the year before, in Advanced-A St. Lucie. However, he quickly moved through Double-A to Triple-A Las Vegas.

In Spring Training of that year, Frank Viola, at the time the Savannah pitching coach, spoke about deGrom’s development as a pitcher.

“His makeup is incredible,” Viola said. “His gift from god with his arm, is incredible. And now he’s putting his delivery and everything together. With the fastball, learning the slider, trying to get better with the changeup, and all of a sudden this kid went from a non-prospect nobody knew about to one of the top twelve prospects in the Mets’ organization.”

Romanick’s 2012 report on deGrom was hopeful, but, with a year of professional pitching then under his belt, these words from Viola really show belief that the righty could become the major league pitcher we see today.

DeGrom learned the curveball, which was absent from his early repertoire, while working with Johan Santana, who was rehabbing from shoulder surgery in St. Lucie.

“I talked to Johan a bit about the grip that he had on his two-seam one day, and he showed it to me and I started messing with it,” deGrom said of the former ace’s influence.

The development of that pitch has been crucial to deGrom’s maturation into a fully-capable starting pitcher. In August 2013, Romanick talked about the mechanics of the pitch, which had become an important part of the righty’s game.

“You have a curveball grip, but you throw everything like a fastball,” Romanick said. “And a lot of the guys that throw curveballs, when they try to throw like curveballs, it has that high school that loop in it. And that’s the wrong mentality and that’s one of the things that you talk about. It’s not how much it breaks, it’s about how late it breaks . And a true curveball, the grip will produce the rotation too.”

Earlier this season, now up with the big league club, deGrom talked about his arsenal of pitches, comparing the majors to Triple-A.

“The changeup’s been a really good pitch for me,” he said. “And then last year, at the end of the year, I started throwing a curveball, too, which I throw a lot more up here than I did in Triple-A. And I worked with Dan [Warthen] on it and that’s become a really good pitch for me, too.”

From a college shortstop to a major league pitcher, deGrom’s game has changed a lot, but some things have remained constant. While his focus is now on every fifth day instead of every single game, he’s kept up his hitting. He was never a power hitter — he hit one home run in his three years in college — but he consistently finished seasons with averages around .250. His .242 average this year fits right in, and it’s been against major league pitching, thus no small task to maintain.

It’s important to keep in mind that players do quite often change positions between college baseball and the pros. The Oakland A’s closer this year, Sean Doolittle, was drafted as a first baseman in 2007, but had also pitched at University of Virginia. He converted back to pitching in 2011, after multiple injuries.

Just because others have done it, though, doesn’t mean that becoming someone who a major league team relies on for multiple innings and 90+ MPH fastballs is easy. How did deGrom handle arriving in the minor leagues essentially to learn to be a pitcher, with one year of experience?

“Boy, he’s a real competitor,” Triple-A manager Wally Backman said earlier this year. “He does not like to lose games. He likes to win. He competes, his stuff is plenty good enough to pitch in the big leagues, he’s 93 to 95 at times. Locates his fastball, it’s got a good sink on it. His changeup is fantastic. He throws all three of his pitches for strikes, at any time in the count…We got just a brief look at him last year, he was only supposed to come here for one start last year and Jake ended up being able to stay the rest of the year because of the way he pitched the first game. But he’s really moved rapidly through the system, and well-deserving, I think.”

Attitude, perseverance and that ‘god’s gift’ of an arm Viola mentioned have paved the way for deGrom over these last few years.




36 comments
Ron Delapena
Ron Delapena

Harvey, Wheeler and the da Grominater! We just need to get some bats!

Neil Ramchandani
Neil Ramchandani

I swear...teams must stop babying their pitchers! They didn't do that in the olden days.

Neil Ramchandani
Neil Ramchandani

We could've had at least 2 or 3 wins earlier in the season if the Mets scored more. That will cost him his ROTY title smdh

Erna O'Shea
Erna O'Shea

All those losses at the season start, except one game, had nothing to do with his pitching.

Dan Korreis
Dan Korreis

Years ago the more a pitcher pitched the stronger he got! It's a fact! When you train for a marathon you don't just run a 100-yd dash do you? Come on!

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

Stetson is a funny name for a college.  I can see everyone walking around campus with a big, funny hat. 

Adam Porte
Adam Porte

Enjoyed this roundup. Nice work.


And deGrom feels like Harvey last - just exciting to watch, and always impressive. Plus, I think he's taken the spotlight off Wheeler and in turn, he's turning into the pitcher we all hoped he would be.


The future is really bright for this rotation.

hankypanky
hankypanky

With all the speculation about why modern-era pitchers suffer more arm trouble than the old-timers, it's noteworthy that deGrom didn't pitch until part-way through college. The point is that modern-day pitchers often start throwing as children, long before they are developed physically, thus guaranteeing physical break-downs once they reach adulthood. Little league plays a big role in having little kids throw at an early age, and this may account for the heavy percentage of Tommy John surgeries in the modern era.

Bob Smillie
Bob Smillie

The consensus among Drs seems to be its not so much the number of innings pitched but the fact that these kids pitch year round from a young age with all the travel teams and then winter ball in the pros. Although in deGroms case he needed surgery after only a couple of years on the mound. So who knows might just be bad luck.

Bruce Richwine
Bruce Richwine

Let him pitch. There is no coralation between innings pitched and getting hurt. If that was the case then we wouldn't of had so many Tommy John surgeries the last couple years. Ever since the Kerry Wood and Mark Prior incidents we think baseball has been blasted for overworking young pitchers which the media acussed baseball of causing these injuries. In fact if a player has a flaw in their muscle tissue it's going to tear eventually anyway.

hashburry
hashburry

OK, this has been reported everywhere.  Nothing new.

ametfanincanada
ametfanincanada

Of course, the answer we are looking for is right there in front of our eyes Mets fans! Tejada plays shortstop every day that deGrom pitches, and Jacob plays shortstop every other day! It's win win here! C'mon Terry, get it done!

Anthony Fiore
Anthony Fiore

Cesears....the Metsblog school of spelling errors in full effect.

Jim Colucci
Jim Colucci

He was looked at as a short-stop when the Met's went to see him play. Just by luck he pitched one inning when the scout was there. They checked him out again. Then Boom he was signed. Was not a good SS or hitter. 

Kory Powell
Kory Powell

As nice as it would be to win NL ROY, it is more important to have him long term. As soon as the Mets believe they're done and have no outside chance of the playoffs shut him down

Jeff Robins
Jeff Robins

Glad to hear Viola say this: "all of a sudden this kid went from a non-prospect nobody knew about to one of the top twelve prospects in the Mets’ organization.” I guess that's why they call the minor leagues PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, and it's not just about wins and losses. I didn't have him highly rated because of his age. Didn't fully know his history. But with the limited workload from earlier years, maybe he could pitch longer on the tail end of his career.

Karl Leopold
Karl Leopold

he threw 148 innings last year, what do the Mets cap him at this year? 175?  he's at 138 now and the Mets will have about 43 game remaining when he pitches next.  do they pull him at 6 innings for the next 6 starts? they will get him till near the end of September?


I just do not think he is going to make till the end of the season - especially when we are not going to be in the playoff push

ametfanincanada
ametfanincanada

One thing our Metsblog has given us over the past few summers in some great work by some very good interns! If our team was as good as our interns we'd be leading the league!...and now back to the usual rage.....

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

@hankypanky Excellent point.  The youth baseball industrial complex has ruined these kids by manipulating their idiot parents into spending every last dime playing and training 12 months a year from the age of 6.  No wonder their arms are falling off at age 25.  

ametfanincanada
ametfanincanada

@hashburry yeah, she kinda states that in the first paragraph... it's the putting it all together so us lazy-butt fans don't have to go looking for all this info that makes it a good article.

ametfanincanada
ametfanincanada

@Anthony Fiore What's funny is that even if you click on the misspelled link, it takes you to the right place...I believe that's called pulling a Homer.

Brian Lomasky
Brian Lomasky

@Karl Leopold I'm pretty sure it was publicly stated that his IP cap this season is 185. He should get to throw another 6-7 starts.

Karl Leopold
Karl Leopold

@ametfanincanada Fire Terry, CY for DFA, I want Flores, Don't trade Thor, I want Tulo, I don't want Tulo, Cargo can't hit outside Coors, Get me Stanton, trade Murphy, don't trade Murphy


Did i miss anything?

Karl Leopold
Karl Leopold

@ametfanincanada @hashburry Cliff Notes for blog reading

ametfanincanada
ametfanincanada

Bring up denDekker, replace Colon with Thor, trade Montero, Matz, Neise, Plecks, Flores and your pick of Wilpons for Stanton, Giancarlo or Mike, same diff, but other than that I think you nailed it!