Iowa baseball’s Dermody drafted — again

BY SETH ROBERTS | JUNE 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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Matt Dermody has what baseball types call “electric stuff.”

The tall, lanky left-handed pitcher throws a knee-buckling curve ball and possesses impeccable control over his explosive fastball — 25 batters struck out looking against Dermody in last season, the third-best mark in the Big Ten.

Professional scouts noticed, and the Colorado Rockies chose Dermody in the 29th round of the 2011 MLB draft on Tuesday.

He didn’t seem to be overly excited about being drafted when he spoke with The Daily Iowan on Wednesday, though, but he had a good reason — he has been drafted before.

The 20-year-old from Norwalk, Iowa, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 26th round of the 2009 draft after a high-school career in which he simply demolished the competition. In his senior year, Dermody became the first pitcher in state history to strike out all 18 batters of a six-inning perfect game — a feat that earned him a brief article in Sports Illustrated — while racking up 164 total strikeouts and batting .434 with 51 runs batted in.

The Pirates chose to wait until the end of the 2009 summer to make him an offer, and by then the self-described lifelong Hawkeye baseball fan had decided he would be better suited spending some time in Iowa City before jumping to the minor leagues.

In several ways, the events leading up to the 2011 draft appear to be mirroring those of the 2009 event. Dermody didn’t throw a perfect game, but he did lead the Big Ten with 75 strikeouts and finished fourth on the team with a .265 opponents’ batting average.

Those numbers were a stark contrast to the statistics he posted in his freshman campaign. The 6-5, 180-pound lefty struggled in his first year as a Hawkeye and finished with a 7.93 earned run average, the second-worst of any Iowa pitcher with at least 21 innings pitched.

Hawkeye pitcher Nick Brown said the strides Dermody made in 2011 were stunning.

“Toward the middle of the year, when he started having his better outings, he controlled the pace; he slowed it down; he was determining what was going on,” Brown said. “That’s where he really grew as a pitcher. If you can do that, you can pretty much determine the outcome of the game.”

What still has to be determined, then, is if Dermody will choose to forgo his final two years of college. He said the Rockies, like the Pirates in 2009, are waiting to see how he performs this summer before offering him a contract and that he is willing to wait and see what that offer is before he makes his decision.

“There’s really no negative to coming back to college, but there are a bunch of negatives in signing [with the Rockies] — [like] whether I’d be skipping out on my last two years of college,” Dermody said. “I’ve always been a Hawkeye fan, so I ultimately want [them] to succeed. Coming back to Iowa and having an awesome year in the baseball program is something I want to do.”

In addition to Dermody, incoming Hawkeye recruits Sasha Kuebel and Nick Hibbing were selected on Wednesday, the third and final day of the draft. Kuebel was taken by the Oakland Athletics in the 31st round, and Pittsburgh snapped up Hibbing in the 42nd.

Kuebel, a 6-1 left-handed pitcher from St. Louis, was ranked the sixth-best player in Missouri by Perfect Game USA. The two-time all-state selection racked up a 17-3 record the past two years at St. Louis University High.

Hibbing is a right-handed pitcher from Lindenhurst, Ill., and holds the Lakes Community High record for the lowest ERA over 40 innings (1.09). The 6-5 hurler was a Perfect Game Preseason All-American, all-state, all-district, and all-conference honoree as a junior for the Eagles.

Kuebel and Hibbing join Derrick Loveless, who was chosen by Toronto on Tuesday, as incoming Iowa recruits to get drafted in 2011.

“We are excited about this incoming class,” Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said in a release. “We had three players drafted — that’s the most we have ever had in an incoming class.”

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