Joe DeMers wasn’t on the American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason baseball team, but he’s played his way into ALL-USA contention by leading his team at the plate and with three no-hitters this season.Until the regular season American Family Insurance ALL-USA baseball team comes out in June, we’re looking at players who deserve consideration for that team.
Name and school: Joe DeMers, College Park, Pleasant Hill, Calif.
Height, weight: 6-2, 235
Baseball future: The senior pitcher/shortstop/first baseman has signed with Washington.
If Joe DeMers has ice in his veins, it might not be hereditary.
“My gut gets in a knot,” says his dad, Tom DeMers. “I’m a nervous Nellie when he pitches. It’s the last batter who always gets me.”
Imagine how tough things would be on his dad if DeMers wasn’t hitting a team-high .490 and 23 RBI, wasn’t 8-0 with a 0.26 ERA, wasn’t going for his third consecutive no-hitter in his next start.
In 54 innings, he has 57 strikeouts with only six walks. In his second start this season, a 9-0 defeat of Monte Vista (Danville), he threw a perfect game. On April 16, he no-hit Concord in a 3-0 win, allowing two walks. On April 21, in his last start, he gave up one walk in an 11-0 no-hit defeat of Northgate (Walnut Creek). He will likely get a start this week, with a chance at a third consecutive no-hitter.
“He’s a dart thrower,” said College Park coach Andy Tarpley. “He’ll miss inside of a soup bowl, that’s about it. With Joe, throwing a no-hitter is almost expected.”
DeMers throws in the mid-to-low 90s with plenty of movement. Last summer, when he wasn’t also playing shortstop or first base and had a chance to rest his arm more, he hit 96 mph.
He helped lead College Park to a 2013 state runner-up finish in basketball as a sophomore and was on the basketball team as a freshman and junior, but concentrated solely on baseball this season, to the detriment of the Falcons’ opponents.
“I never had an offseason,” DeMers said. “This year I was able to get in the weight room and get out on the field earlier than usual and really prepare for this season.”
DeMers was pretty solid last season, with a 12-2 record, 0.65 and 94 strikeouts with only nine walks in 86 innings. His improvement has been steady, thanks to a consistency in pitching mechanics, teammates and instruction.
College Park, the No. 17 team in the Super 25 rankings, has seven players who have signed with Division I schools. Six of them have played together since they were in grade school for the Condors’ PONY League team in the Pleasant Hill Baseball Association: DeMers and infielder Willie MacIver, who have signed with Washington; catcher Noah Burnham, who has signed with UC Santa Barbara; left-handed pitcher Chris Brown (UC Davis); center fielder Jeffrey Mitchell (Cal); and right fielder Trevor Larnach (Oregon State). Another Division I signee, left fielder, catcher and first baseman Nick Oar (Stanford), joined the team as a freshman.
With such talent behind him, DeMers doesn’t worry so much about getting strikeouts. On DeMers’ last no-hitter, Larnach, playing shallow in right field, threw a batter out at first base.
“That was a heck of a play,” DeMers said. “I would rather give up a hit than give up a walk. I just make my defense work and it’s really worked out so far. … I can throw to a zone and know they’ll make the plays behind me, which is great for a pitcher, for your mentality, to go after hitters.”
Tarpley has been College Park’s coach since DeMers was a sophomore, but DeMers has worked with kinesiologist Angel Borrelli since he was 10.
“She’s the main reason that I stayed healthy and why I have good pitching mechanics,” DeMers said. “She’s one of the smartest people I know, so I trust her 100 percent.”
DeMers has also played with USA Baseball since he was on the 14-under national team in 2010 and has won three gold medals with various Team USA teams.
“I think we all knew Joe was going to be this guy back when he was in the eighth grade,” Tarpley said. “His composure is unparalleled at this level. The biggest reasons are his mechanics and his mental focus, but he’s also country-boy strong. You pat him on the back and it’s like hitting a side of beef.”
Ironically, it’s that size that might work against DeMers. Some scouts might not see as much upside for him as they would for a 6-5 pitcher who still has to fill out. Most mock drafts do not have him going in the first round.
“I’m not worried about that,” DeMers said. “I just go out there and try to improve every day. Hopefully, the scouts will see that.”