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It's traveling time for the Delers
Jeff Dahn    
Published: Saturday, June 02, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. - In his closest approximation, Derek Deler Sr. figures he and his son, Derek Jr., will probably spend all of about 10 days at their Orlando, Fla., home over the next two months. That just seems to be part of the deal when a father decides to follow his son in pursuit of the kid's dreams.

"This summer, it's pretty ridiculous with the amount of travel we have," Derek Sr. said Saturday.

Derek Deler Jr. is a top 460-ranked middle-infield prospect who just completed his junior year at Boone High School in Orlando. He and his father were at the Player Development 5-Plex Saturday morning so Derek Jr. could take part in the two-day 2012 Perfect Game Sunshine East Showcase.

More than 160 prospects are on hand for the Sunshine East, and another 85 are in attendance here for the 2012 National Academic Showcase which is running simultaneously at the 5-Plex.

"I just want to come out here and have fun and compete, and show off my tools and just have a good time playing baseball," Derek Jr. said.

The Delers were here in Fort Meyers for four days last weekend while Derek Jr. played in the 2012 18u PG WWBA Memorial Day Classic for his summer travel ball team, FTB Chandler. It's been a busy start to what promises to be an even busier summer.

"It was our first tournament of the summer and playing with new teammates and stuff; it was a lot of fun," Derek Jr. said. "I love it. Driving from Orlando to Fort Myers is a good drive, and it's also a good time.

"We've pretty much booked the whole summer," he continued. "I have a lot of showcases and a lot of tournaments so I'm going to be pretty busy."

His appearance at the Sunshine East Showcase gave Derek Jr. the opportunity to add one of the most prestigious events on PG's calendar to his already busy travel docket. He has readily accepted an invitation to attend the 2012 Perfect Game National Showcase, scheduled this year for June 14-18 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

That will just be one more event on a schedule that will include several more showcases and PG WWBA tournament appearances for Derek Jr., who has already committed to Florida International University. The Delers just can't get enough.

"Everybody knows that Perfect Game is the No. 1 recruiting place and where you go to get seen," Derek Sr. said. "The talent level (at PG events) is always way up there so we wanted to make sure that we participated in this because it's important for Derek to see what(the other prospects in) his grad year look like, and some of the guys that are coming up and the guys that are above him, as well. The tournaments and the showcases are always well-organized and it's obviously a very respected organization."

The Sunshine East was Derek Jr.'s 12 PG event since he first played in the 2010 18u PG WWBA Memorial Day Classic with the Orlando Scorpions 2012s Black. He played in several events with the Scorpions in 2010 but has since played exclusively with several teams within the FTB organization.

He played in the 2010 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship with FTB Mizuno/Underclass and the 2011 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship with FTB Mizuno Royal.

"My coaches are awesome, my teammates are awesome; I love the atmosphere there and it's a good team." Derek Jr. said of the FTB experience. His father expounded even further.

"FTB is one of those teams that it's almost like you're walking into the park with an 'X' on your back," Derek Sr. said. "Every team is going to throw their No. 1 guy at you and their No. 2 guy at you and everybody's ramped up to  beat you. You get to face great competition and it's always tense and it's always fun. The organization is second to none."

Derek Jr. is considered a solid prospect in terms of speed, arm strength, glove work at either second base or shortstop and his ability to swing the bat. That doesn't mean he can't get better.

"I need to improve my speed and get a little bigger, a little stronger, a little faster," he said. "I need to keep working on my hitting, as always, and just maintain everything else."

He made an early commitment to head coach Turtle Thomas at Florida International and is already looking forward to "taking (his) talents to South Beach" as Lebron James once famously stated.

"I went over there and I loved the campus, and it's right in Miami. I love the city of Miami," Derek Jr. said. "The coaches were great ... and it was one of my top schools to go to. I was pretty excited (with the offer)."

An entire summer and fall of PG travel ball tournaments and showcases lies ahead, and Derek Jr. still has another season of high school baseball left before he can start thinking about college. His opportunities seem limitless, and right now both father and son just want to enjoy the moment.

"It's a lot of fun,  it's a great experience, and quite honestly speaking, I like to say it's an emotional roller-coaster because you have some really good moments and then you have some moments that are tough, and then you're away from home," Derek Sr. said of the intense schedule. "But the bottom line is, I'm spending time with my son and he'll be gone soon - off to college or where ever - and then we'll have all these memories and when he comes home we can talk about them.

"It's definitely a great experience to be part of all this stuff, just watching and enjoying every ground ball and just every ball that he hits, and just being there for his highs and lows."



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