PHOENIX - With the Mets' brass assembled at last year's winter meetings in Orlando, Jacob deGrom took the opportunity to introduce himself.
Drafted 272nd overall in 2010, the righthander was a product of the previous regime, regarded as somewhat of an afterthought when compared to the Mets' other pitching prospects.
So the former ninth-rounder made the short drive from his Florida home to show his face.
Nearly one year later, deGrom needs no such introduction. The former college shortstop on Monday became the fifth Met in history to be named the National League Rookie of the Year.
"I was just thankful to be in the big leagues this year,'' deGrom said. "And then receiving this award was a great honor. I'm looking forward to next year in trying to help this team win a World Series.''
DeGrom, 26, joined an elite class, one that includes Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984).
"I was fortunate enough to see him pitch a few times at Citi Field,'' Gooden said in a statement. "What impressed me the most was that every time he got into a tough situation, he always made the pitch he needed to get out of the jam. I love the way he competes.''
As the Mets began 2014, most of the buzz surrounded their other pitching prospects, primarily former first-round picks Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Few paid attention to deGrom, the skinny, shaggy-haired righthander who had Tommy John surgery in the minors.
Yet by season's end, it was deGrom who had emerged as the Mets' best pitcher.
Called up in May to work out of the bullpen and forced into the rotation because of an injury to Dillon Gee, he turned his chance into a breakout season.
In 22 starts, deGrom went 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA in 1401/3 innings. His win total would have reached double digits had it not been for an early string of tough luck in strong performances.
"His journey has been unbelievable,'' manager Terry Collins said in a statement.
DeGrom cemented his standing in the Mets' stable of promising young arms, taking his place alongside Wheeler and Matt Harvey.
"His growth this year is incredible,'' pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "I look forward to a group of these guys growing up together and being sensational for a number of years.''
And deGrom did it with some flash. On Sept. 15 against the Marlins, he tied the modern big-league record by striking out the first eight batters he faced.
In a statement, Seaver said the feat left an impression. "When I saw that he had struck out eight straight, I just said to myself, 'Wow, this guy almost broke my record, and all of his were to start the game,' '' said Seaver, who in 1970 struck out 10 straight Padres to conclude a game in which he fanned 19. "That's impressive. I made sure to find his boxscore whenever he pitched.''
DeGrom, who got 26 of 30 first-place votes and four second-place votes, beat out the Reds' Billy Hamilton and the Cardinals' Kolten Wong.
Starting from his debut against the Yankees -- a seven-inning, one-run, tough-luck loss that he called his most memorable moment -- deGrom appeared unflappable on the mound.
"He never, ever lost that composure,'' Warthen said. "The stuff was always there. The delivery was always clean. The ball came out of his hand easily.''