Last year, Matt Dermody hopped on a plane, hoping to begin his professional baseball career.
A year later, his career could finally take off.
The Norwalk native and former Iowa Hawkeyes pitcher will be waiting to hear his named called during this week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, which begins Thursday night.
“I’m pretty excited,” Dermody said. “I know this is what I want to do and I’m ready to go.”
Dermody will be one of many Iowans who will pay close attention to the three-day draft.
It’s become a ritual for the 22-year-old who is expected to hear his name called for a fourth time.
Dermody was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in high school and again as a college sophomore by the Colorado Rockies.
The Arizona Diamondbacks selected the southpaw in the 23rd round last year, so he planned to forgo his senior season and begin his professional career. He flew to Arizona for a physical and to sign his contract.
Those plans came to a screeching halt when the physical conducted by the team showed a 40 percent tear of an ulnar collateral ligament.
A team official broke the news to Dermody, saying that the team had no plans to sign him and that a flight home awaited him in several hours.
“I was like, dang, I’m going back home this early,” Dermody said. “It was very surprising. Detrimental actually.”
He called now former Iowa coach Jack Dahm to break the news.
“(He was) stunned,” Dahm said. “Nervous…I felt so bad for him.”
Dermody returned to Iowa City where he got a second opinion that determined the injury was tendinitis and surgery wouldn’t be required. He spent the summer rehabbing and working construction. Dahm, who had given away Dermody’s spot on the team, gave it back.
“I was very relieved because if he didn’t, I wouldn’t have had anywhere to go,” Dermody said.
Dermody capped off his senior season, a season that wasn’t even supposed to happen, by going 7-2 with a 3.64 ERA. He showed scouts that the arm that impressed them three times was ready for another shot at the professional ranks.
“I think it was a good season just because it showed that I can pitch and that I am healthy.”
Perfect Game USA Iowa League director Steve James said he expects Dermody to go anywhere from the 20th to 40th round.
Some other names James said to keep an eye on: Cedar Rapids Washington’s A.J. Puk, Muscatine’s Derek Burkamper, Vanderbilt catcher and Des Moines native Spencer Navin, Auburn’s Damek Tomscha of Sioux City and Des Moines Area Community College’s Dakota Freese.
“It’s pretty cool,” Navin said. “Growing up, that’s every kid’s dream to be on this kind of stage and it’s actually happening.”
It’s happening…again, for Dermody who said this time around, he’s sure he’s healthy.
“I know my arm feels good and when it doesn’t feel good, that’s for sure,” Dermody said. “”And I feel good.”
Dahm said he sees a bright future for Dermody.
“I still think Matt’s got a chance to pitch for a long time,” Dahm said.
Despite how things have shaken out, Dermody said he has no regrets about opting not to sign the first two times he was drafted.
“I needed to learn a lot of things and I think I learned those things in college,” Dermody said.
DERMODY BY THE DRAFT
2009 – 26th round (775th overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates
2011 — 29th round (888th) by the Colorado Rockies
2012 — 23rd round (723) by the Arizona Diamondbacks
For updates during the draft, follow Register reporter Tommy Birch on Twitter @TommyBirch