Jacob deGrom had a meteoric rise through the Mets' minor league system in 2013, and it had as much to do with good fortune as it did his performance. His season started in High-A St. Lucie where he made two starts, striking out 13 and walking two in 12 innings. Luis Mateo then hit the disabled list in mid-April, opening a spot in the Binghamton rotation, and deGrom was promoted. His first start with the B-Mets went well, but he struggled thereafter, posting a 4.80 ERA in 10 starts that spanned 60 innings.
Around mid-June, a series of fortuitous events took place that led to deGrom getting promoted once again, this time to Triple-A Las Vegas. The combination of the Mets purchasing the contract of Carlos Torres, Collin McHugh being designated for assignment, and the promotion of Zack Wheeler created a need for a starter in Vegas, and deGrom was the one to get that call.
Surprisingly, especially given the run environment and conditions, deGrom pitched slightly better in Vegas than he had in Binghamton and was able to remain in the rotation the rest of the season. This offseason, the Mets added deGrom to the 40-man roster and he is likely to make his major league debut in 2014.
The key for deGrom this year will be the refinement of his secondary pitches, specifically which breaking ball he intends to focus on going forward. In the middle of last season deGrom switched from a slider to a curveball, bucking the trend within the organization to favor the slider over the curve. He has shown good control throughout his career, so refining his repertoire and showing an ability to miss bats at the highest levels will be crucial if he is to stick as a starter.
The June opt-out clauses that both John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka possess, coupled with Jenrry Mejia's injury history, could lead to deGrom getting the call before the two more ballyhooed prospects ahead of him, especially if the need for a starter arises before the Super 2 cutoff. Given the events that transpired to get him to Vegas last year, it wouldn't surprise me if just such a scenario has deGrom pitching in Queens sooner rather than later.