HoJo most impressed by deGrom

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
7:11
PM ET
NEW YORK -- New Seattle Mariners hitting coach Howard Johnson watched Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero from the opposing dugout while coaching in Triple-A last season. But the Mets prospect who impressed him most at Triple-A Las Vegas last season?

Jacob deGrom, a 6-foot-4 right-hander and ninth-round pick in 2010 out of Stetson University, who went 4-2 with a 4.52 ERA in 14 starts for the 51s. DeGrom had started the season at Class A St. Lucie, then made 10 starts with Double-A Binghamton before the rapid ascent to Las Vegas.


Adam RubinHoward Johnson


Although deGrom did not receive a September call-up, he was added to the 40-man roster this offseason and officially will be part of the fifth-starter competition along with John Lannan, Jenrry Mejia and Montero.

DeGrom, who was a shortstop early in his college career before being converted to pitcher, possesses a fastball that sits at 91-94 mph. The sinker is complemented by a slider and a changeup. (Read a full feature on him from July here.)

"I saw deGrom. I like him a lot," HoJo said. "As a matter of fact, at David [Wright]'s wedding, I mentioned deGrom to the front office. He pitched one game against us, and he pitched very well. And the things I saw, I liked. He was the guy that I remember, for sure. And we saw them all -- Wheeler, and I've seen [Jack] Leathersich and some of the other guys. But he was pretty good."

After being let go by the Mets as a major league hitting coach and deciding not to accept a minor-league role with the club, HoJo sat out two years. He then accepted the Triple-A Tacoma hitting coach role last season with the Mariners and now has been elevated to their big-league staff.

There is a definite Mets accent to the coaching staff in Seattle. HoJo is joined by John Stearns as third-base coach, Rick Waits as pitching coach, Chris Woodward as infield coach and Jason Phillips as bullpen catcher.

An added bonus: HoJo now gets to coach Robinson Cano.

"I'm going to fix him," HoJo quipped.

More seriously, Johnson added: "To me, he's got the perfect swing. Before he was with me and the Mariners, we would watch him and use him as an example of things I like when I'm talking to hitters. It's going to be an easy fit. And he's going to help our young guys out a lot. You get to see it every day."
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187