Showcase : : Story
Thursday, June 19, 2014

DeMers excels on the big stage

Chris Real        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Baseball provides players special opportunities and memories that shape their perspective and define their careers. Whether their careers go into the Majors or end before, some players are fortunate enough to be given such great opportunities.

Joe DeMers entered the 2014 PG National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. with an already impressive and lengthy baseball resume. While he had competed in four PG-based tournament events, the National marked the first time DeMers had attended a Perfect Game showcase.

His outing late on Satrday was one of the more highly anticipated heading into the National, as he has been one of the highest ranked players in the 2015 class since the first time said rankings were released. DeMers made a strong impression the first time PG scouts got to see him in person by throwing an 89 mph fastball in 2011 as a 14-year-old at the 15u WWBA National Championship, and he continues to make the most of his opportunities on the big stage.

He has already had the opportunity to travel to countries such as Taiwan, Mexico and Nicaragua as a member of the 14u, 16u and 18u USA National Teams. As a member of the 16u National Team, DeMers played as a 14-year-old, and was 16 when he played on the 18u squad, making him the youngest player on both teams.

The 18u team had the opportunity to play in Taiwan where they earned the win in a semifinal game against Chinese Taipei and came back with his teammates as gold medalists. Taiwan was also DeMers’ favorite country from his baseball travels.

I would say Taiwan last year was a great experience and coming home with the gold was even better,” DeMers said. “[I liked] just how different it was, I’ve never been to a country like that. It was awesome.”

His 16u USA National Team played in the Pan Am ‘A’ Championships in Managua, Nicaragua. In the bronze medal game against Brazil, Joe threw a complete game and recorded 10 strikeouts, which tied a USA baseball record for most in a game. But the experience of playing in Nicaragua was much bigger than a bronze medal.

Well Nicaragua was quite an experience because I don’t think the boys were quite prepared for the level of poverty in that country,” said Tom DeMers, Joe's father. “And so I think they came home with a greater appreciation of what they have here in the USA. So that was an interesting experience.”

A better appreciation for the life he has isn’t the only thing that Nicaragua gave to Joe DeMers; he also met his best friend and recent Houston Astros draftee Brady Aiken.

This past Father’s Day, Aiken sent out a tweet wishing his father, Jim Aiken, a happy Father’s Day and thanking him for always being there. DeMers responded to Aiken’s tweet saying, “Tell Uncle Jim Happy Father’s Day!”

Me and Brady have been close,” Joe DeMers said of their friendship. “We were on the 14u USA National Team together and me and my brother call his dad Uncle Jim, just because he’s a boy.”

Last year, Aiken found himself in the same spot as DeMers, pitching at the Perfect Game National Showcase, another special opportunity for any young ballplayer looking to further their career. As far as preparing for the National Showcase, Aiken kept the advice short and simple for DeMers.

Brady just said to enjoy it and it’s a great experience,” DeMers said.

But the friendship between Aiken and DeMers started with the two pitching against one another in a championship game of a tournament in Las Vegas. The two became teammates on the 14u and 18u National Team and have continued to pitch against each other with their friendship off the field growing as well.

We’ve become friends with the family because we travel with his parents to these tournaments,” said Joe's mother, Lisa DeMers. “They’re a great family, [Brady Aiken] is a great young man, so it’s been fun.”

DeMers’ journey has taken him to places both nationally and internationally that most people don’t get to visit in their lifetime. But playing against teams outside of California has shown that DeMers can compete with anyone from anywhere.

I think [he] was 11 when we were in Florida at the USSSA World Championship Games. At age 11, his club team won the entire tournament,” Tom DeMers said. “Until then, we were a strong California team and Joe was always a strong pitcher. But until we stacked up against the Georgia teams, the Florida teams and the Texas teams, we walked away from that tournament after we won it saying, ‘you know what, he’s not bad.’”

He can hang with the best of them and it was probably around that age that I think he started to think ‘wow, first I can play in high school and then I can play in college,’” Lisa DeMers added. “But now I think it’s starting to hit that perhaps he can have a career in baseball at some level anyway for some amount of time. That’s been his goal certainly the past few years.”

But Joe’s big dreams may have been signaled after what he did as a pitcher in his first season of little league.

His first year of kid pitch when he was eight – the first year they were allowed to pitch – he pitched a perfect season,” Lisa DeMers continued. “At the time his coach had to fill me in as to what that meant in terms of no one ever reaching base and that was over the whole season.”

This season for his College Park High School baseball team, Joe enjoyed a 12-2 record with eight complete games, two shutouts, 86 innings pitched and 94 strikeouts. His team was the North Coast Section Champion and champions of the Diablo Valley Athletic League. He also had a productive season at the plate hitting .371 with three home runs, one triple, seven doubles, 32 RBIs and 25 runs scored.

His stellar high school season led to him receiving accolades such as being named league MVP, NorCal Preps Player of the Year, and CalHi-Sports Finalist for Player of the Year.

DeMers has verbally committed to the University of Washington, a decision he and his parents are excited about after the recruiting process had him visit 10 different schools.

Just everything clicked for him there [at Washington], he just loved everything about it; the coaching, the coaches, their philosophy, the brand new facility, it’s just beautiful, the school itself,” Joe’s mother said.

The coaching staff is great, I know a lot of players going there and their facilities are unbelievable,” Joe added.

The University of Washington recently unveiled a new 2,400 seat stadium overlooking Lake Washington. The stadium cost $19 million and also includes a new team performance center, field turf, a new enhanced scoreboard among other things.

For right now, Joe DeMers will focus on one thing at a time. He just wrapped up a solid performance at the 2014 Perfect Game National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. and impressed PG scouts. One PG scout wrote:

A righthander with a more mature and strong 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame. DeMers came out firing, delivering several 94 mph fastballs and a handful of 93’s
in his second inning of work. Both his 81-82 mph slider and 82-83 mph changeup also show promise, and he did a nice job of working between these three pitches.

For someone who has always played with kids older than him, with his stuff a shot in the big leagues may be a dream Joe DeMers will see one day.

He would love to be able to play Major League Baseball,” Tom DeMers said.

And his first choice? His hometown team, the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants,” Joe’s parent simultaneously said with joy. “[But] we’d be fans of any team that wanted our boy to play for them, as would he,” Lisa said.

Joe DeMers baseball career is young, but he’s already had plenty of success thus far. For a young man who’s been a part of the USA National Team, brought home two gold medals, one bronze medal, has committed to a rising D-I university and is coming off of a successful showing at the 2014 PG National Showcase, the sky appears to be the limit.

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