Before Jacob deGrom was a two-time Cy Young award winner for the New York Mets he was a “light hitting” shortstop for the Stetson University Hatters. deGrom, despite being an impressive high school player, went undrafted out of high school and enrolled at Stetson in 2008 to continue his baseball career.
During deGrom’s freshman and sophomore seasons, he was the team’s starting shortstop. Only posting a mediocre .258 batting average and leading his team in the statistical category of sacrifice bunts, it was rarely deGrom’s bat that he gained attention for. It was his arm on throws across the diamond that was considered to be his main strength.
Late in the 2009 season, during the 8th inning of a Stetson losing effort against UCF, deGrom was called onto pitch in an effort to help his team save their arms for a more competitive day. In his first collegiate pitching appearance, deGrom shut down the side in one inning of work.
Following the 2009 season and the completion of deGrom’s sophomore season, he was invited to play summer ball with the DeLand Suns of the Florida Collegiate Summer League. Still considering himself to be a shortstop, deGrom declined the offer once he learned that the team wanted him as a pitcher, not an infielder.
Before Jacob deGrom was a two-time Cy Young award winner for the New York Mets he was a “light hitting” shortstop for the Stetson University Hatters.
During deGrom’s junior year at Stetson in 2010, following the team beginning the season poorly, the coaches approached him to ask if he would be willing to fill an important spot in the starting pitching rotation. Initially responding by asking if he could still play shortstop, deGrom eventually accepted his new role, going onto post an unspectacular 4-5 record and 4.48 ERA that season.
Maybe deGrom got lucky, maybe the Mets did, but on one fateful day in Florida, during a Stetson vs. FGCU game scouts were heavy in attendance to watch the future first-round draft pick Chris Sale of FGCU. On the mound for the Stetson Hatters was Jacob deGrom. The Mets grew fond of deGrom, leading them to spend a ninth-round pick on him that summer in the 2010 MLB draft. Omar Minaya, the former Mets General Manager who drafted him, remembered deGrom at the time as a player with a “real nice arm, (with a) nice and easy delivery.”
deGrom’s professional career couldn’t have started with more of a challenge. After reporting to the Kingsport Mets of the Rookie-level Appalachian League, deGrom was diagnosed with a partial Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his throwing elbow, forcing him to have the notorious all too common Tommy John Surgery.
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Eventually, in 2012, deGrom found his groove, finishing the season with a 2.43 ERA in class A ball. deGrom would eventually work his way up to the major league level in 2014, excelling at the highest level of competition the game has to offer and becoming the deGrominant player we all are so familiar with today.