DeGrom, a former shortstop at Stetson University, wasn't drafted until the ninth round in 2010. Despite delays in his Minor League career due to injury and modest results, he began his 2014 campaign in Triple-A Las Vegas. He finished it as one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball.
He went on to make 22 starts for the Mets, finishing with a 9-6 record, a 2.69 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 140 1/3 innings. His 9.24 strikeouts per nine innings were good enough for sixth best among NL pitchers with at least 140 innings.
DeGrom, along with fellow young fireballers Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, could provide the Mets a solid foundation to their rotation in the coming seasons.
Another less-heralded finalist is David Peralta, who quietly became one of baseball's best feel-good stories of 2014.
Originally drafted as a pitcher by the Cardinals in 2006, Peralta was released in 2008. Unwilling to give up his baseball dream, but unable to find a job with a Major League organization, Peralta spent the next four years playing in independent leagues. Eventually, the Diamondbacks gave him a second chance, signing him to a Minor League contract -- this time as a hitter. He has thrived ever since.
On June 1, Peralta made the jump to the Majors. He wound up playing in 88 games, hitting .286/.320/.450 with eight home runs while spending time at all three outfield positions. He even tied a Diamondbacks franchise record by recording multiple hits in seven of his first 15 games.
While DeGrom and Peralta were relative unknowns, Billy Hamilton's signature speed was already respected across the NL after the Mississippi native stole 13 bases in 14 attempts during a 13-game call-up to Cincinnati in 2013.
Hamilton was drafted in the second round back in 2009. By 2012, he was ranked as one of the 50 best prospects in the game by both MLB.com and Baseball America.
Hamilton finished 2014 with 56 stolen bases, second most in the NL. He more than held his own at the plate offensively, batting .250 with six home runs, and defensively, he ranked as one of the very best defensive center fielders in the game.
Click HERE for the complete list of 2014 Players Choice Awards finalists.
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