NY product Hackimer honored to be Mets pick
Former shortstop converted to pitching during time at St. John's
NEW YORK -- Thomas Hackimer may not have grown up directly in the shadow of Shea Stadium, but he wasn't far from it.
The Mets' 15th-round pick in the 2015 Draft, Hackimer was born in New Hyde Park, N.Y., grew up in Floral Park, then went to high school at Archbishop Molloy and college at St. John's -- both located in Queens. So when the Mets called his name Wednesday afternoon, Hackimer could not have been more thrilled.
"It's an honor to be drafted by anyone," Hackimer said in a telephone interview, "but especially when it's basically your hometown."
Hackimer was not the only local player the Mets selected on Day 3 of the Draft; they also took UConn second baseman Vincent Siena, originally from Woodbridge, Conn., and Columbia pitcher George Thanopoulos. He was just the most local. Raised in Floral Park, a dozen miles east of where Shea Stadium once stood, Hackimer did not technically grow up a Mets fan. But because his father was a diehard Red Sox supporter, the younger Hackimer grew into an "anybody-but-the-Yankees" fan -- a devotion that frequently featured the Mets.
Though Hackimer never went to Shea much as a child, his brother played for a state championship there alongside future Mets outfielder Mike Baxter. That pair played together at Archbishop Molloy, where the younger Hackimer also pitched under late legendary coach Jack Curran. Later, during his freshman year at St. John's, Hackimer had the chance to play at Citi Field himself.
It was not until around that time that he began pitching on a regular basis. When coaches at St. John's saw his naturally low arm slot as a shortstop, they encouraged Hackimer to drop down even further on the mound. A teammate at St. John's helped with the transition, as did a summer ball teammate: Adam Whitt, whom the Astros drafted 20 picks after the Mets took Hackimer.
Still, things were not always smooth on the mound.
"It took some time," said Hackimer, who hit 17 batters his freshman year and walked another nine as he struggled with his new delivery. "But with time and repetition, I got the hang of it."
Three years later, Hackimer was comfortable enough with his delivery to earn All-Northeast Region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association, along with a unanimous all-Big East first-team selection. Posting a 1.92 ERA over 51 2/3 relief innings, he struck out 55 batters against 23 walks. Opponents batted .177 against Hackimer.
"He throws strikes, sinks the ball and gets a lot of outs, to simplify it," Mets scouting director Tommy Tanous said. "Anytime you get a college pitcher that throws strikes and has the ability to sink the ball, pitches in a good conference, this kid was very appealing to us."
Those statistics helped Hackimer's Draft stock rise throughout the spring, until the moment the Mets called his name at 449th overall.
"It was pretty incredible," Hackimer said. "I really didn't know that I was coming up, and then I saw my name pop up and I was like, 'That's me.' It was kind of surreal for a second. It took me a minute to put it all together."