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deGrom leaves camp for birth of second child

Prospect Bautista throwing heat; Tebow takes BP
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- After logging his daily work at the Mets' complex Tuesday, Jacob deGrom climbed into his car for a trip to be with his wife, Stacey, for the birth of the couple's second child. deGrom planned to stay away from Mets camp until Saturday.

For most of camp, deGrom has stayed close to his cellphone, waiting for a call. The baby's original due date was Feb. 12, keeping deGrom on pins and needles for more than a week.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- After logging his daily work at the Mets' complex Tuesday, Jacob deGrom climbed into his car for a trip to be with his wife, Stacey, for the birth of the couple's second child. deGrom planned to stay away from Mets camp until Saturday.

For most of camp, deGrom has stayed close to his cellphone, waiting for a call. The baby's original due date was Feb. 12, keeping deGrom on pins and needles for more than a week.

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The absence will prevent deGrom from pitching in New York's first two Grapefruit League contests, though it's possible the Mets will keep him, Noah Syndergaard and other top starters out of early spring games anyway, as they have in recent years. Manager Mickey Callaway, a former pitching coach said he is deferring to current Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland on all such matters.

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"This is the easiest spring I've ever had because I don't have to map out the pitching," Callaway said, laughing. "I'm sitting there saying, 'What do I do?'"

Fireballer
Among those making waves early in Mets camp is Gerson Bautista, one of three relievers the team acquired from Boston for Addison Reed last July. One of the hardest throwers in a clubhouse that also includes Syndergaard, Bautista has been clocked as high as 101 mph. Bautista is the Mets' No. 29-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline.

"That's the one that I use the most," Bautista said through an interpreter. "That is the one I'm working to develop."

It was not until two years ago, at age 20, that Bautista began throwing with elite velocity. In the Dominican Republic, he works with a private trainer, playing long toss with softballs before graduating to smaller, lighter baseballs. In that fashion, Bautista said, he has managed to add miles per hour to his best pitch.

Mets officials see Bautista as more of a project than Jamie Callahan or Jacob Rhame, the two young relievers they debuted last season, or even Drew Smith, who has yet to crack the Majors. But he may have the highest ceiling of the bunch. Like many hard-throwing young pitchers, Bautista simply must improve his control after walking 4.7 batters per nine innings last year.

After joining the Mets last summer, Bautista walked merely three batters in 14 1/3 innings -- a small sample that he hopes to expand as his comfort level in the organization grows.

"In the beginning, it was a little bit tough because you have friends, good players, teammates on the team where you're from," Bautista said. "You have to begin from scratch. But so far, it's been a very good experience down here."

Video: Tebow, Callaway on playing time in Spring Training

Prospect showdowns
Tim Tebow has drawn some difficult assignments his first few days in big league camp, taking live batting practice against prospects Bautista and Smith (who also throws in the upper 90s).

Tebow swung through several Smith pitches on Monday, but did not attempt any cuts at Bautista's offerings Tuesday due to a minor ankle issue. Tebow did take regular batting practice following the live BP session.

"I saw it as a regular player, as a regular hitter," Bautista said of facing Tebow. "I faced him like just another guy."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom