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Gnats' DeGrom excels in season debut
Mets prospect retires first 14 batters of game after missing 2011
05/07/2012 11:00 PM ET
Jacob DeGrom was a ninth-round pick in 2010 out of Stetson University.
Jacob DeGrom was a ninth-round pick in 2010 out of Stetson University. (Stetson University)
Jacob DeGrom's return to baseball Monday night was an unqualified success.

The right-handed Mets prospect took a perfect game into the fifth inning in his season debut as Class A Savannah blanked Lakewood, 5-0.

DeGrom, who did not factor into the decision, allowed a two-out double to Maikel Franco in the fifth to break up the gem -- the only hit he'd allow in 6 2/3 innings of work. The 2010 ninth-rounder struck out a career-high seven in the longest outing of his career.

"My fastball location was good, the slider was decent tonight and the changeup was good," said DeGrom, who had a pitch limit of 80. "Albert Cordero called a great game behind the plate. Fastball location and getting ahead in the count, that really helped."

DeGrom missed the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2010. The Florida native last pitched on July 26, 2010 for Rookie-level Kingsport, where he was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA in six Appalachian League starts.

"It was kind of disappointing, but I'm feeling good now," DeGrom said. "There's a good rehab crew that got me back in the shape I'm in now."

Most players don't get a chance to work deep into games their first game back from Tommy John surgery, let alone dominate the way DeGrom did. For his part, the 23-year-old right-hander was just grateful to be back on the mound.

"I'm just happy that the team got the win and I started the game," DeGrom said. "I came out with a good plan to try and get ahead of people. I made my pitches when I needed to and it turned out better than I thought it would."

After missing an entire season, DeGrom is ambitious in his goals for 2012.

"I would say to keep healthy and work hard and try to move up as quick as I can," he said.

Carlos Vazquez took over for DeGrom and improved to 3-1 after 2 1/3 perfect innings for Savannah.

Luis Nieves was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Cordero drove in a pair of runs for the Sand Gnats.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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