With terrific combination of pitching and hitting and leading team to state’s final No. 1 ranking, it’s not too tough of a call (unlike last year) for College Park of Pleasant Hill graduating senior to snag state’s most prestigious postseason honor (the only one that has more than 100 years of tradition behind it).
For this year’s State Baseball Players of the Year by class and school size, CLICK HERE.
Note: Check out updated coaching records, prep notes with a twist and writeups on MLB all-star candidates from California right now on this site as well, but all of that content is for Gold Club members only. Some all-state baseball content also will be for Gold Club members only. Join our team today by CLICKING HERE.
It is never a given that the state’s top individual player award for baseball goes to the big star of the final No. 1 ranked State Team of the Year. It’s just that sometimes the difference of being No. 1 or No. 2 or No. 3 can come down to one swing of the bat.
In the end, however, College Park of Pleasant Hill was in that position, which made it easier to ascend its leading player, senior Joe DeMers to this year’s Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year honor.
DeMers, who last year was put on the books as the State Junior of the Year, certainly put up both the hitting and pitching numbers worthy of a State Player of the Year.
With DeMers’ selection, it’s the first time since 2006 that both Mr. Baseball and the State Team of the Year have been from Northern California. That year, Tyler Robertson of Fair Oaks Bella Vista was the player and San Jose Bellarmine was the team.
“That’s awesome,” DeMers said on Thursday when informed. “It’s a huge honor to be named Mr. Baseball. Thank you to Cal-Hi Sports.
“I could never have done it without my teammates and the coaching staff,” he continued. “My award and the team’s award (State Team of the Year) shows the hard work and long practices and focus on all the finer things really paid off’.”
College Park head coach Andy Tarpley also was excited to hear the news.
“That is huge,” he said. “I’m so happy for Joe. I’ve been coaching him since the eighth grade and Joe has always been special but he just keeps getting better.”
With John Donohue of San Francisco Lowell named earlier this week as the State Coach of the Year, it also marks the first time since 1978 that Northern California has had a clean sweep of the State Player, Coach and Team of the Year awards. In that year, Larkspur Redwood and its head coach Al Endriss got two of the honors, and Mr. Baseball went to Lloyd Moseby of Oakland. Another from Oakland, Brian Johnson of Skyline for 1986, also is the last player since DeMers from the East Bay who’s been named Mr. Baseball.
The senior 6-foot-2, 230-pound Washington-bound DeMers first caught the eye of Cal-Hi Sports when as a sophomore power forward he was second on the team in scoring and the leading rebounder on the 2012-2013 College Park basketball team that won the CIF Northern California Division II title and was a runner-up to Redondo Union (Redondo Beach) for the state championship.
The following spring, DeMers went 10-0 with a 1.00 ERA and hit .373 for a Falcons baseball team that made it to the semifinals of the CIF North Coast Section Division II playoffs.
DeMers played basketball his junior year and despite leading the team in scoring and rebounding College Park made an early exit in the NCS D2 playoffs after a first round loss. He came back in the spring of his junior year to lead the College Park baseball team to a 27-3 record and the NCS Division II title. DeMers went 12-3 with a 0.65 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 86 innings pitched. He also batted .371 and led the team with 32 runs batted in.
After signing with Washington, the big fella gave up hoops for his senior season to give himself an off-season to concentrate on his primary sport of baseball.
The break from basketball obviously worked out because what DeMers did on the diamond solidified a brilliant high school career.
His performance in a season that saw College Park go 26-4 and win the CIFNCS Division I title earned him the state’s top honor from Cal-Hi Sports as well as a nod as the Gatorade State Player of the Year. It’s not often those two are the same, but it couldn’t be helped this time.
On the mound, DeMers, who throws in the mid 90s with a tops of 96 mph, sparkled with a 13-1 record, 0.51 ERA, three no-hitters, including two straight, one perfect game against eventual NCS Division I semifinalist opponent Monte Vista of Danville in this season’s second start, and 103 strikeouts in 96 innings. At the plate, he was almost as impressive with a .447 average, and a team-leading six homers and 44 knocked in.
DeMers pitched four innings in the NCS D1 semifinal 4-0 victory over Monte Vista and faced 13 batters without giving up a hit.
In the NCS Division I title game against a top-seeded De La Salle (Concord) team that had a 3-0 win over College Park and DeMers at Cal in early May, it didn’t take long before Tarpley called on his right-handed ace.
DeMers entered in the second inning with College Park down 1-0, and although he had a few rough spots against a very talented Spartans’ lineup, he ended up giving up five hits and one run with 10 strikeouts in a 5-2 title-game victory. With the adrenalin flowing, he used the high heater to strike out the final two batters.
“The year he had was incredible, and not just on the mound but at the plate and doing all the little things we asked him to do, like play short or first, or third where he’s a natural,” Tarpley said. “Wherever he played, he could take over the game and dominate if the team was struggling. Joe is the kind of player that will do whatever the team needs. He’s so poised and consistent – just knows how to win ballgames.”
The four-year totals for DeMers are very impressive. From the mound, he finishes with a 44-5 record and a 0.76 ERA in 54 appearances and 48 games started. In 314 innings pitched and 1,178 batters faced he struck out 332 and only had 37 walks. With aluminum in hand he hit .382 with 13 home runs, 39 doubles and 112 runs batted in. In 402 plate appearances he only had 45 strikeouts and a very respectable .648 slugging percentage overall and .851 this past season.
As is the case with the makeup of any team that is No. 1 in the state and the State Team of the Year, Mr. Baseball was not a one man show, and it wouldn’t be fair to not mention some of his teammates whose performances certainly helped DeMers snag the honor.
DeMers was joined in a loaded D1 college-bound lineup by teammates such as outfielder Trevor Larnach (Oregon State), outfielder Nick Oar (Stanford), outfielder Jeffrey Mitchell (Cal), catcher Noah Burnham (UC Santa Barbara), pitcher Chris Brown (UC Davis) and catcher/infielder Willie MacIver, who will join his teammate at Washington.
All the boys except Oar, who joined the group as a freshman, played together since they were in grade school for the Condors’ PONY League team in the Pleasant Hill Baseball Association.
Besides his prowess as a high school player, 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 squads.
Some have speculated his not getting drafted was because MLB teams are waiting to see how he develops at Washington, and whether his body type (which resembles a linebacker in football) will possibly have him playing third base or catcher at some point instead of being primarily a pitcher.
“My dream has always been to play professional baseball and these years in college will help me reach my goals and dreams,” he said.
And although he didn’t get drafted or a big contract yet, Joe DeMers is headed to the Pac-12 with all the hardware and the title of Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year etching his name in California high school baseball history.
MR. BASEBALL STATE PLAYERS
OF THE YEAR ALL-TIME LIST
(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)
2015 – Joe DeMers, Pleasant Hill College Park, P/INF
2014 – Brady Aiken, San Diego Cathedral Catholic, P
2013 – Jack Flaherty, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, P-3B (Jr.)
2012 – Ty Moore, Santa Ana Mater Dei, P-INF
2011 – Henry Owens, Huntington Beach Edison, P
2010 – Cory Hahn, Santa Ana Mater Dei, P-OF
2009 – Tyler Matzek, Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley, P-1B
2008 – Aaron Hicks, Long Beach Wilson OF-P
2007 – Mike Moustakas, Chatsworth INF
2006 – Tyler Robertson, Fair Oaks Bella Vista OF-P
2005 – John Drennen, San Diego Rancho Bernardo OF
2004 – Matt Bush, San Diego Mission Bay INF
2003 – Ian Stewart, Westminster La Quinta INF
2002 – Delmon Young, Camarillo OF (Jr.)
2001 – J. P. Howell, Carmichael Jesuit P
2000 – Mike Stodolka, Corona Centennial DH-P
1999 – Ryan Christianson, Riverside Arlington C
1998 – Sean Burroughs, Long Beach Wilson 3B
1997 – Jon Garland, Granada Hills Kennedy P
1996 – Eric Chavez, San Diego Mt. Carmel SS-P
1995 – Eric Chavez, San Diego Mt. Carmel SS-P (Jr.)
1994 – McKay Christensen, Fresno Clovis West OF
1993 – Derrek Lee, Sacramento El Camino OF
1992 – Jason Kendall, Torrance C
1991 – Dmitri Young, Oxnard Rio Mesa 3B
1990 – Mike Lieberthal, Westlake Village Westlake C
1989 – Todd Johnson, Fresno Bullard C-P
1988 – Scott Davison, Redondo Beach Redondo Union P-DH
1987 – Tom Redington, Anaheim Esperanza SS
1986 – Brian Johnson, Oakland Skyline C
1985 – Gregg Jefferies, San Mateo Serra SS
1984 – James Mitchell, El Cerrito OF
1983 – Kurt Stillwell, Thousand Oaks SS
1982 – Bret Saberhagen, Reseda Cleveland P
1981 – Lenny Dykstra, Garden Grove OF
1980 – Darryl Strawberry, Los Angeles Crenshaw OF
1979 – John Elway, Granada Hills OF
1978 – Lloyd Moseby, Oakland 1B
1977 – Craig Landis, Napa Vintage SS
1976 – Rickey Henderson, Oakland Technical OF
1975 – Carney Lansford, Santa Clara Wilcox SS
1974 – Lonnie Smith, Compton Centennial OF
1973 – Robin Yount, Woodland Hills Taft SS
1972 – Scott McGregor, El Segundo P
1971 – Keith Hernandez, San Bruno Capuchino 1B-Semipro
1970 – Terry Forster, Santee Santana P
1969 – Jeff Burroughs, Long Beach Wilson OF
1968 – Tim Foli, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame SS
1967 – Bill Buckner, Napa 1B
1966 – Kemer Brett, El Segundo P
1965 – Bob Boone, San Diego Crawford P
1964 – Willie Crawford, Los Angeles Fremont OF
1963 – Bob Tolan, Los Angeles Fremont P-OF
1962 – Rudy May, Oakland Castlemont P
1961 – Bob Bailey, Long Beach Wilson SS
1960 – Wade Blasingame, Fresno Roosevelt P
1959 – John Boccabella, Kentfield Marin Catholic 3B
1958 – Dick Ellsworth, Fresno P
1957 – Johnny Callison, Bakersfield East OF
1956 – Mike McCormick, Alhambra Keppel P
1955 – Deron Johnson, San Diego OF
1954 – Don Drysdale, Van Nuys P
1953 – Frank Robinson, Oakland McClymonds 3B
1952 – Jim Gentile, San Francisco Sacred Heart 1B
1951 – Ed Cereghino, Daly City Jefferson P
1950 – J.W. Porter, Oakland Technical C
1949 – Paul Pettit, Harbor City Narbonne P
1948 – Karl Olson, Mill Valley Tamalpais OF
1947 – Gus Triandos, San Francisco Mission C
1946 – Jim Baxes, San Francisco Mission 2B
1945 – Jack Harshman, San Diego 1B
1944 – Jackie Jensen, Oakland OF
1943 – Herb Gorman, San Francisco Balboa 1B
1942 – Charlie Silvera, San Francisco St. Ignatius SS
1941 – Bob Brown, San Francisco Galileo SS
1940 – Duane Pillette, San Diego P
1939 – Ferris Fain, Oakland Roosevelt 1B
1938 – Bob Lemon, Long Beach Wilson SS-P
1937 – Rugger Ardizoia, San Francisco Commerce P
1936 – Bobby Doerr, Los Angeles Fremont 2B (Pro)
1935 – Ted Williams, San Diego Hoover OF
1934 – Frankie Hawkins, San Francisco Sacred Heart SS
1933 – Chet Smith, San Diego P
1932 – Gordon Maltzberger, Colton P
1931 – Joe DiMaggio, San Francisco Galileo SS (Semi-pro)
1930 – Athos Sada, San Diego OF
1929 – Arleigh Williams, Oakland Technical C
1928 – Frank Dobranksy, San Diego P
1927 – Willard Hershberger, Fullerton C
1926 – Dick Bartell, Alameda SS
1925 – Louie Almada, Los Angeles P
1924 – Joe Cronin, San Francisco Sacred Heart SS
1923 – Gene Hollister, San Francisco Mission P
1922 – Walter Berger, San Francisco Mission 3B
1921 – Babe Herman, Glendale 1B
1920 – Bernie Viveiros, Oakland Technical 2B
1919 – Ren Kelly, San Francisco Poly P
1918 – Brick Muller, San Diego OF
1917 – Johnny Gillespie, Oakland Technical P
1916 – Ray Lorrigan, San Francisco Poly P
1915 – Frank Schellenback, Hollywood P
1914 – Bert Cole, San Francisco Lowell P
1913 – George Kelly, San Francisco Poly 3B
1912 – Harry Heilmann, San Francisco Sacred Heart SS
1911 – Will James, Oroville P
1910 – Eddie French, San Francisco Sacred Heart P
1909 – Babe Hollis, San Francisco Cogswell P
1908 – Oscar Vitt, San Francisco Wilmerding SS
1907 – Lloyd Burton, Alameda SS
1906 – Mowatt Mitchell, Los Angeles 1B
1905 – Walter Johnson, Fullerton P
1904 – James Schaeffer, Berkeley C
1903 – Mead Hamilton, San Francisco Lowell P
1902 – Mead Hamilton, San Francisco Lowell 2B
1901 – Heinie Heitmuller, San Francisco Lick 1B
1900 – Orvall Overall, Visalia 1B-Town team
1899 – Will Moreing, Stockton P
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend