Before even beginning his freshman baseball season at Geneva, Nick Derr knew he already put a target on his back.
Committing to national powerhouse Florida State two months before your first high school baseball game tends to do that, something Derr said he was prepared for.
“I knew, but I knew I had to be myself and have fun, that’s the main thing,” Derr said. “I can’t think about Florida State or think about doing too much, you just have to have fun out there. That’s the main thing.”
After holding his own as a freshman, Derr is having plenty of fun for the 7-0 Vikings so far. He had the breakout game of his career Saturday against Conant, blasting three home runs to lead an improbable 13-12 comeback win.
From the moment Geneva coach Matt Hahn met Derr, he knew he had something special on his hands. That’s why Hahn had no hesitation putting Derr at the most important position on the field, shortstop, and having him hit leadoff as a freshman on the varsity team.
“I took some flak early on for bringing up a freshman,” Hahn said. “But he quieted a lot of the doubters right away just by the way he handled himself.”
He hit .320 as a freshman, making some dazzling plays in the field and showing an advanced feel at the plate. So far in his sophomore season, he leads the team in most every offensive category, including stolen bases, home runs and on-base percentage. Six of his 12 hits have gone for extra bases.
“When all is said and done, he’s going to be that complete player that is very, very rare,” Hahn said. “For only being a sophomore, you can tell that he’s a special player.”
What impresses Hahn even more than his physical attributes are the other ways he has matured. Though only a sophomore, he has emerged as a leader on the team on and off the field. He is also a good student who is well-liked by faculty and students alike.
“He doesn’t have that title, but he certainly carries himself like a leader,” Hahn said. “He is a lot more vocal on the field, and everything is positive. That’s just his demeanor. He helps keep people loose, but also focused. When you see a 16-year-old kid do that, that’s special.”
Though it’s a ways off, Derr is excited for the day when he arrives in Tallahassee, Fla. to suit up for legendary coach Mike Miller and the Seminoles. Though other schools were in pursuit, his visit to FSU cemented his future plans.
“I just couldn’t get enough of the coaches at Florida State,” Derr said. “I couldn’t be happier with my decision.”
In the meantime, he’s got some more work to take care of at Geneva.
“I was happy (with his freshman year), but I’m not satisfied,” Derr said. “I have to get better every single day.”