Teen hurler faces choice

BY SEAN MORGAN | JUNE 25, 2009 7:21 AM

Matt Dermody is being asked to do a lot lately.

He’s being asked to put his education on the back burner and gamble on his future. He’s being asked to put his dream on hold and take time to grow.

These are not decisions most people his age are faced with, but if this month has proven anything, Dermody will be making a tough choice at summer’s end.

The 6-5, 190-pound high-school senior from Norwalk, Iowa, was drafted in the 26th round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. If he chooses not to sign a professional contract, Dermody will play at Iowa for head coach Jack Dahm.

“It’s a tough decision,” Dermody said. “The Pirates are going to be looking at me all through the summer and give me a number.”

College or the pros. Education or a dream. This decision would be a difficult one for many. The pressure became greater shortly after Dermody was drafted.

In a game between Norwalk and South Tama, Dermody pitched a perfect game. What made his performance unique was how he accomplished the fabled baseball feat — he struck out all 18 South Tama hitters he faced, a first for Iowa prep baseball. He did so using a fastball that falls around 85-87 miles per hour, a developing 12-6 curve ball, and his out pitch, his changeup.

“My biggest strength is that I can blow my fastball by hitters at the high-school level,” Dermody said. “At the next level, I need to develop my off-speed pitches.”

His outing reached national proportions and was featured on “SportsCenter.”

In charge of keeping things normal during the unexpected national spotlight is Norwalk head coach Chad Wiedmann.

“Everyone is shocked,” he said. “We had to keep our focus on going to the ballpark every day.”

The coach said he is not trying to influence the decision Dermody will make later this summer.

“We talked about it a little bit,” said Wiedmann, who once coached Washington National pitcher Joel Hanrahan as an assistant. “His family and friends will help him decide what’s in his best interest.”

One friend helping Dermody through this decision is teammate and fellow pitcher Kole Klocko.

Following Dermody’s perfect game, Klocko, a junior, also pitched a no-hitter in the second game of the double-header with South Tama. Dermody homered in both games, and Klocko recorded doubles in each contest.

“I’ve asked [Dermody] the question a lot,” Klocko said. “I’m thinking he’s leaning toward college.”

If Dermody chooses to bypass the Pirates for the Hawkeyes, he would be eligible for the draft again, by his estimation, his junior year. He has posted a 4-0 record with an ERA of 0.29 and 54 strikeouts.

Dermody is also batting .442 with a team-leading four home runs and 16 runs batted in.

At the end of his junior season at Norwalk, Dermody was ranked in the top 500 players by Perfect Game Crosschecker and had 135 strikeouts with only 15 walks.

There are 50 rounds in the MLB draft that includes players from the prep and collegiate levels.

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