Prep Baseball Report

Nick Derr Trailblazes New Path in Florida

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

Nick DerrNick Derr has always been ahead of the curve, dating back to when he was a seventh-grade, three-sport standout growing up in Geneva, IL.

In fact, the 6-foot, 178-pound Class of 2016 infielder set the trend of freshman commitments in the Midwest when he verbally pledged to Florida State in late January, 2013. At the time, his commitment sent shockwaves through Illinois, as it was unprecedented for a freshman to commit to a college – especially prior to playing a high school game at any level.

The times have certainly caught up to Derr, as the speed of recruiting continues to accelerate. Nowadays, freshmen making verbal commitments has become commonplace.

As one of the top prospects in Illinois’ loaded 2016 class, Derr continued to grab headlines when he announced he would be transferring to IMG Academy after the completion of his sophomore high school season.  Since Derr announced he was transferring to IMG, several more high-level Midwest prospects followed suit, including fellow Illinois 2016 standout Anthony Holubecki.

Prior to moving to Bradenton, Derr impressed at the Illinois Underclass Invitational, where he ran a 6.63 60, put on the best round of BP of the event, registered a 92-mph exit velocity and was clocked at 82 mph across the infield.

Now at IMG Academy, Derr took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about his move, his transition from the Midwest to Florida, and more:

What prompted you to transfer to IMG from Illinois after you were already committed?
Since I played multiple sports for so many years and was in a cold climate, I did not get the required reps to be consistent all of the time.  IMG is giving me the reps and training required to get better every day.  That includes strength, nutrition and speed training.  I know I am getting faster and stronger.   I am also spending time learning the mental part of the game.  Education is my number 1 priority, but it is very important to me to be the best I can be when I step on Florida State's campus and baseball field.   I have set very high goals in baseball after high school, which means I have a lot of hard work ahead of me.  That is why I am in Florida.

How has the transition been? What was the most difficult part about moving?
It has been very tough given the move was in the middle of my four years of high school.  I really miss my childhood friends, my teammates and Geneva.  I went to war with teammates in Illinois in multiple sports for many years.  I really miss playing football too - there is a chance I play my senior year.   

What is the biggest difference you see from Illinois baseball to Florida baseball?
The weather, which enables players to get better by practicing and playing outdoors more with and against great competition.  In addition, at IMG, we have a very elite team for a high school team and even a national travel team.  Our coaching staff at IMG is incredible too; Coach Chris Sabo is our head coach.

You were one of the most well-known players in Illinois prior to you moving. Was it hard to try to re-establish yourself in a new environment?    
Yes, because I have not been totally healthy and missed a lot of baseball in late spring and summer due to my broken finger and the bad virus I had.   So I was not in baseball shape due to medical reasons and missing a lot of baseball.  I was not the same hitter when I came back.  I am finally feeling great now.  My hitting feels like it is finally back and my arm feels great.  I am expecting to have a good 2015.

Have you seen a difference in your game since moving to Florida? If so, what?
It has only been a little over three months, but my coaches (Coach Sabo) said I have gotten a lot better defensively (footwork and other details) since Day 1. Coach Sabo and my other great coaches have been really working with me on all aspects of my game. 

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