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deGrom keeping a level head about quick progression

Mets righty didn't pitch until his junior year of college; now he's a big league starter

NEW YORK -- A year ago, Jacob deGrom was pitching for the Mets.

That is, the St. Lucie Mets, of the Class A Florida State League.

Now, he's in the big league club's starting rotation. When asked about his quick ascension to the Major Leagues, deGrom rattled off a few factors.

"Coming off of Tommy John, the rehab, I worked hard to get back to where I needed to be and had a good staff down there helping me out," deGrom said. "I think just learning more about pitching as I went up each level -- that helped out a lot."

deGrom added that his pitching coaches along the Minor League ladder were particularly helpful.

Now, the lanky right-hander doesn't let the spotlight of the Big Apple affect his performance.

"I try not to let that get to me," deGrom said. "It's the same game -- just at a different level. They're a lot better up here. I just go out there every time and try to locate, keep the ball down, and try to get quick outs. I try not to let the surroundings get to me. [I] keep a level head and keep the same approach."

That's worked for deGrom, as he's put up a 3.38 ERA through his first 11 starts, averaging almost a strikeout per inning. The former ninth-round draft pick has never been a heralded prospect, and he wasn't even a pitcher until his junior year at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. He played shortstop for the Hatters during his freshman and sophomore seasons.

"My junior year I was going to just close, and then they asked if I wouldn't mind starting," he said. "It was probably a third of the way, or halfway through [the season], and I said that was fine, so that's really how it happened."

deGrom was perhaps at his best on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves, in which he pitched seven shutout innings. The hurler, who had lost to the same team just six days earlier, says the key to his success was keeping runners off base.

"[My start on July 2], only the first inning hurt me," deGrom said. "I walked two guys, gave up a base hit, walked the next two guys, and with two outs gave up a hit. I think just not walking people and trying to keep them off the bases helped me out for the start that I just had."

He was particularly effective at keeping runners from doing much damage, as he scattered seven hits over his seven innings while walking none and striking out 11 against a strong Braves lineup.

Not bad for a guy who didn't even get on the mound until his junior year of college.

Steven Jacobson is a contributor to
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