Dermody is only Iowa player in Cape League this summer


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BOURNE, Mass. — In baseball lore, "the Cape" is a nearly mythical place. Every summer since 1885, players head to the eastern-most part of Massachusetts to impress scouts and challenge themselves in what essentially is a league of college all-stars.

The credibility of the Cape Cod Baseball League is almost as inarguable as death and taxes.

Author Jim Collins once wrote in his book about the Cape Cod League — The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream — that it was baseball in a pure form.

"They weren't dispassionate, nearly robotic, major leaguers," he penned. "These were kids, full of life … and they were phenomenally talented."

Those in Iowa City agree with that widely held assessment, too.

"Without a doubt, the most prestigious [summer] league is the Cape Cod League," said Iowa baseball head coach Jack Dahm in a 2009 interview with The Daily Iowan.

But this year, there's a notable absence of Black and Gold talent on the Cape after five players earned roster spots in the 10-team league in 2010.

Now, there is only one.

Iowa pitcher Matt Dermody is playing his second-consecutive season with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. Currently, the Harbor Hawks have the league's best record (26-12), and they are ranked second nationally, according to Perfect Game USA. There are six Cape League teams in the top 35; the next highest league has four.

Dermody said those not intensely invested in baseball in Iowa didn't seem to care when he informed them of his summer plans. But he knew exactly what he was about to undertake.

"I don't think people really know that much about [the Cape League] in the Midwest," the junior-to-be said. "But it's a great honor to come here and play with awesome athletes and great baseball players."

The league has players from all the power conferences in college baseball. It's not hard to spot an ACC or SEC pitcher facing a Pac-12 or Big 12 hitter.

This makes Dermody's summer numbers even more impressive. As of Wednesday, he had a 3.15 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 20 innings. And while the pitchers tend to have an advantage in the Cape League because hitters are required to use wood bats, he said the quality of play doesn't allow for slacking.

"You would think that facing wood bats, you could take it easy. But you can't do that," Dermody said. "If you take it easy, they'll still hit you around."

While he said that he's not expressly representing the Hawkeyes this summer — rather just trying to get himself better for the team — the newest question is whether Dermody will represent the Hawkeyes next season.

Drafted in the 29th round (888th overall) by the Colorado Rockies, the lifelong Hawkeye fan must now decide if he wants to play next year in Banks Field or with a minor-league club.

But the decision after the Cape League, he said, will likely be easy unless the Rockies make an offer he can't refuse.

"Going pro is pretty risky," he said. "So I wouldn't mind going back [to college] another year."

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