It was on a nice Thursday evening on May 15th, 2014 to be exact, that I first saw Jacob deGrom pitch in a major league game. He was brought up from AAA Las Vegas that night to help an injured Mets pitching rotation. He would be facing the Mets’ cross town rival Yankees. The Yankees were 21-19 while the Mets were 19-21. What I watched unfold was the beginning of this 26-year old rookie’s rise to the pinnacle of the major league pitching world.
I remember it clearly as my boss, Tom T-bone Giordano, and I sat in Citi Field and marveled at his poise and command over the powerful Yankees. He would go on to pitch seven, more than solid innings of stellar baseball. Giving up one run while scattering four hits and striking out six. He even had the first hit by a Mets pitcher in 64 pitcher’s at-bats at that point in the season.
Tom and I were working for the Texas Rangers at the time, covering the American League East and who ever they played. We decided to follow the Yankees to Citi Field, after watching them drop the first two of this series to the Mets in the Bronx. We both were very happy we stayed in NY. That night we recognized what we saw deGrom do as something out of the ordinary for a first time starter in the big leagues. Before we left the ballpark, Tom sent in a report to the front office that went right to the Texas GM. In essence it said “ACQUIRE this pitcher ASAP.”
Any scout who watched the ease of his delivery and command of all of his pitches, plus as I stated before, the poise he showed in his first ever start in the big leagues, had to have sent in a similar report. This was a no-brainer for us at the time and unfortunately for us and the other 28 teams in baseball, the Mets thought the same.
People will be talking about this big time extension Jacob just got from the Mets. Either loving it or hating it for what ever reason. The money part came at the right time for both the Mets and deGrom. It is a business and I feel the Mets handled their star properly. So let’s get past the money stuff and see what we have here.
The pitcher, who was a shortstop in college, signs with the Mets as a 22-year old in 2010. He undergoes Tommy John surgery and misses most of his rookie season and all of 2011 and goes on to become one of the best pitchers in baseball. Last year’s Cy Young winning season was one for the ages. Just think of this, he has only gotten better each year and is just reaching his prime time pitching years. Good deal for him and an even greater deal for Mets fans.
The media, and call-ins to the sports radio shows by fans last year, were full of trade talks about deGrom and why the Mets should try to get a stock-pile of top prospects for their ace. I understand the logic there in thinking the Mets could have gotten a lot. But pitchers’ of his ability come along only once in a while for major league clubs. Look at the span from Seaver to Gooden to deGrom. That’s almost 54 years. Prospects are just that, prospects and like that box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re gonna get.
Find a prospect with good scouting, make him better with your player development department and watch him grow. Seaver, Gooden and deGrom are all home grown. Home cooking is always better than store bought and right now the Mets have a Thanksgiving dinner with Jacob deGrom at the head of the table.