Jacob Anthony deGrom (born June 19, 1988), nicknamed The deGrominator, is an American professional baseball pitcher for the New York Mets of Major League Baseball (MLB). Prior to playing professionally, deGrom attended Stetson University and played college baseball for the Stetson Hatters.

DeGrom began playing baseball as a shortstop and was converted into a pitcher during his junior year at Stetson. The Mets selected him in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB Draft, and he made his MLB debut with the Mets on May 15, 2014. That year, deGrom was named the National League's (NL) Rookie of the Month twice, and the NL Rookie of the Year. In 2015, deGrom was selected as an MLB All-Star.

Amateur career

DeGrom attended Calvary Christian Academy in Ormond Beach, Florida, where he played for the school's baseball and basketball teams.[13] As a senior, the Florida Sports Writers Association named deGrom to the All-Florida second team.[14] He also played American Legion baseball, where he was noticed by the coaches for the Stetson Hatters, the college baseball team of Stetson University.[15]

DeGrom was not selected in the Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft out of high school.[16] He enrolled at Stetson University and joined their baseball team where he played exclusively as a shortstop during his freshman and sophomore seasons. Though he was considered a good fielder with a strong throwing arm, deGrom was a light hitter, with a career .263 batting average.[15] He made his first appearance as a pitcher in May 2009.[17] In the summer of 2009, between his sophomore and junior years, deGrom received an invitation to play collegiate summer baseball for the DeLand Suns of the Florida Collegiate Summer League, which he declined after discovering that they wanted him to play as a pitcher.[15]

When deGrom returned to Stetson that fall, the team used him as a relief pitcher, filling the role of their closer, in addition to playing shortstop.[15][18] He quickly became one of Stetson's best pitchers, so the team moved deGrom into their starting rotation midway through the season.[18][19] In addition to a fastball, deGrom learned to throw a changeup and a slider.[20] MLB scouts began to take notice of deGrom when he pitched against Chris Sale of Florida Gulf Coast University.[15][18][20] In that game, deGrom hit his only home run of the season.[16] He made 12 starts for the Hatters,[20] pitching to a 4–5 win–loss record with a 4.48 earned run average.[16]

Professional career

Minor Leagues

The New York Mets selected deGrom in the ninth round as a pitcher, with the 272nd overall selection, of the 2010 MLB Draft. He signed with the Mets, receiving a $95,000 signing bonus.[21] The Mets assigned deGrom to the Kingsport Mets of the Rookie-level Appalachian League, where he made six starts[18][22] before he was diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his pitching elbow. He attempted to rehabilitate his arm for four months, but underwent Tommy John surgery to repair the UCL in October.[18][23] He did not pitch in 2011 while he recovered from the surgery.[15] While rehabilitating, deGrom worked on his changeup with Johan Santana.[20][22]

DeGrom pitched for the Savannah Sand Gnats of the Class A South Atlantic League and the St. Lucie Mets of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League in 2012, finishing the year with a 2.43 ERA in 19 games started.[20] In 2013, he began the season with St. Lucie, but was promoted to the Binghamton Mets of the Class AA Eastern League after two starts due to injuries to Binghamton's Luis Mateo and Cory Mazzoni.[19][24] He received a promotion to the Las Vegas 51s of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League in June after the Mets promoted Zack Wheeler and Carlos Torres to the major leagues and traded Collin McHugh.[24][13] He had a combined 4.51 ERA for the season, due to a broken finger suffered during the offseason, which altered the way he threw the ball.[20]

The Mets added deGrom to their 40-man roster on November 20, 2013, to protect him from being eligible in the Rule 5 draft.[26] During the offseason, deGrom improved his mechanics, and learned to throw a curveball.[20] He began the 2014 season with Las Vegas, and had a 4–0 win–loss record and a 2.58 ERA in his first seven games started.[20][27]

New York Mets

2014

The Mets promoted deGrom to the major leagues on May 12, 2014, after Gonzalez Germen was placed on the disabled list.[27] The Mets planned to use deGrom in relief, but an injury to Dillon Gee required the Mets to insert him into their starting rotation.[15] DeGrom made his major league debut on May 15 against cross-town rival New York Yankees in Citi Field.[13] He faced fellow rookie Chase Whitley, also making his MLB debut. He pitched seven innings, allowing only one run and striking out six, but the Yankees shut out the Mets and won 1–0. DeGrom also collected his first MLB hit in the game in his first career at bat. It was the first hit by a Mets pitcher in the 2014 season ending an 0-for-64 hitless streak, the worst collective mark by a pitching staff to begin a season in MLB history.[13]

DeGrom compiled four quality starts in his first four MLB starts, but did not record a win in any of them.[13] On July 8, deGrom pitched seven scoreless innings and recorded 11 strikeouts in giving the Mets their 4,000th franchise victory.[13] Along with Steve Cishek of the Miami Marlins, deGrom was named the National League's (NL) Co-Player of the Week for the period of July 21 to July 27 after allowing only one earned run in two starts that week.[14] He was named the NL Rookie of the Month for July.[14] On August 11, deGrom went on the disabled list with rotator cuff tendinitis. Rafael Montero was called up on August 12 in deGrom's place.[14] On August 23, Montero was re-sent back to the 51s to make room for deGrom coming off the disabled list.[14]

On September 15, 2014, deGrom faced the Marlins and struck out his first eight batters, tying the MLB record.[14] Near the end of the season, deGrom was shut down for the year, ending his season with a 9–6 record, a 2.69 ERA and 144 strikeouts.[14] DeGrom won the 2014 Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year Award[14] and was named the NL Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, (the first by a Met since Dwight Gooden in 1984) receiving first place votes on 26 of the 30 ballots.[14]

2015

deGrom and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers were selected as NL Co-Players of the Week for the week ending June 7, 2015.[14] He began the 2015 season with a 8–6 win-loss record and a 2.30 ERA through the end of June, and was named to the NL roster in the 2015 MLB All-Star Game.[14] During the All-Star Game, deGrom struck out the three batters he faced on ten pitches, becoming the first person to do so since pitch counts were recorded.[42] DeGrom pitched to a 14–8 record with a 2.54 ERA and a 0.99 walks plus hits per inning pitched ratio during the 2015 season.[43]

Starting Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS, he allowed no runs and five hits over seven innings pitched and tied a Mets franchise postseason record with 13 strikeouts (set by Tom Seaver, Game 1 of the 1973 NLCS).[44] DeGrom won the deciding Game 5 with a six-inning, two-run effort.[45] In Game 3 of the 2015 NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, deGrom pitched seven-inning game, allowing just two runs on four hits, one walk and seven strikeouts, putting the Mets ahead 3–0 and within one game of their first World Series appearance since the 2000 Subway Series.[46] DeGrom started Game 2 of the 2015 World Series on October 28; he allowed four runs on six hits and three walks over five innings and took the loss as the Royals went up, 2–0, in the series.[47]

Following the season, deGrom received a Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award as the best defensive player statistically at his position in Major League Baseball.[48] He also placed seventh in Cy Young Award voting.[49]

2016

DeGrom initially refused to sign the 2016 contract for the $607,000 salary assigned to him. As a third-year player not yet eligible for arbitration, deGrom was bound by the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement to accept the salary assigned to him by his club. He eventually relented and reluctantly capitulated to signing his contract early in spring training.[50]

On July 17 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, deGrom pitched a complete game shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies, allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out seven opposing batters. His game score of 97 was tied for second-best in Mets history in a nine-inning game.[51] DeGrom's final pitching appearance of the season came on September 1, when he faced the Miami Marlins. He underwent season-ending surgery on his ulnar nerve in late September in order to relieve discomfort in his elbow and numbness in his fingers which had plagued him during the 2016 season.[52]

2017

On June 18, 2017 deGrom hit his first career home run at Citi Field against Joe Ross of the Washington Nationals.[53] deGrom was named NL Player of the Week for the week of June 12–18 after hitting his first home run, posting a 0.53 ERA, allowing eight hits, striking out 12 and walking six in 17 innings over two starts.[54] deGrom recorded wins in eight consecutive starts from June 12 until July 24, tying a franchise record previously set by Tom Seaver, David Cone and Bobby J. Jones.[55] Of the seven potential starting pitchers who began the season with the club, deGrom was the only one who finished the 2017 season without spending any time on the disabled list.[56] deGrom finished eighth in voting for the 2017 NL Cy Young Award.[57]

Personal life

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deGrom with the Mets in 2015

DeGrom is from DeLeon Springs, Florida.[58] He was raised by his parents, Tony, an AT&T lineman, and Tammy, a customer service representative for a credit card rewards program.[18] Tony built a batting cage in the backyard for his son to practice. He credits his father for his quiet intensity and humility.[59] He has two sisters, Sarah and Jessica.[60]

DeGrom met his wife, Stacey, shortly after high school.[61] They were married in November 2014,[16][17] and live in DeLand, Florida. They have a Morkie,[59] and welcomed their first son, Jaxon, in April 2016.[17]

DeGrom is known for his long hair, which he began to grow out while at Stetson. His starts with the Mets led to the trending hashtag on Twitter of "#hairwego".[17] His hair inspired a promotional "Jacob deGrom Hair Hat" giveaway at Citi Field during the 2016 season.[17] After learning that an unnamed MLB hitter said that deGrom's hair made it harder to pick up the ball out of his hand, deGrom said that he would never cut his hair.[17]

Fans have embraced "The deGrominator" as his nickname. DeGrom is close friends with fellow Mets starting pitchers Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey.[17][17]