Jacob DeGrom is getting good at making first impressions.
When the right-hander made his season debut for Class A Savannah on May 7 after missing all of 2011 following Tommy John surgery, he took a perfect game into the fifth inning and wound up allowing one hit over 6 2/3 innings.
On Saturday, in his first start after a promotion to Class A Advanced St. Lucie, DeGrom tossed seven one-hit frames, walking three and striking out eight, as the Mets posted a 3-0 blanking of the Fort Myers Miracle.
The Mets' ninth-round pick in the 2009 Draft pick yielded a single and two walks in the opening frame, then retired the next 15 batters in a sparkling opening effort in the Florida State League.
"I didn't [have any idea it would go that well], I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes and give them a chance to win," he said. "I'm real happy with how it went."
The 24-year-old began his professional career in 2010 with Rookie-level Kingsport, where he was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA, striking out 22 and walking six over 26 innings. Then he underwent surgery in October 2010 and spent the next year working his way back to the mound.
"I mean, coming into Spring Training I didn't really know what to expect coming off the surgery. I'd missed the whole year, but I feel good," DeGrom said. "I'm happy with how things are going. I never had any setbacks, from right when it happened all the way through to the throwing program and onto the mound and now in games. My arm has felt good."
The Stetson University product made 15 starts for Savannah earlier this year, going 6-3 with a 2.51 ERA, a number that would have qualified for third-best in the South Atlantic League if he'd had only three more innings under his belt. He fanned 78 and walked 14 over 89 2/3 innings.
With the Sand Gnats, DeGrom made three starts in which he logged at least six innings without allowing an earned run. He didn't give up more than two earned runs in seven straight outings from June 22-July 31 before yielding three in six innings on Aug. 5 in his last SAL start.
The effort was enough to get the Florida native to St. Lucie, two hours from home. Most of his family made it to his start Saturday night, with the exception of his sister, who had a baby Friday; and his mother, who was with her.
"I heard about it [last] Saturday," he said of his promotion. "They called me into the office and said I was going up. That was really nice. It's nice to play here, when we're at home. My dad and grandparents and girlfriend all made it."
And on Saturday, DeGrom stepped it up once more with eight strikeouts, matching his second-best total of the year. He fanned nine on July 24 and eight a week earlier.
Overall this season, he's 7-3 with 2.33 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings.
Offensively, leadoff man Alonzo Harris tripled and scored a run, while catcher Blake Forsythe led the Mets with two RBIs. Rafael Fernandez plated St. Lucie's other run.