Today, I had the opportunity to interview Cardinals prospect Nick Derba, who was drafted this year in the 30th round of the MLB Draft. He is already off to a fast start as catcher for the Low-A Swing of the Quad Cities batting .317 with 2 HR and 13 RBI. I want to thank Ben Chiswick, the Director of Media Relations for Swing of the Quad Cities for setting this interview up for me, I really appreciate it.
ELI: To be honest, I haven’t heard much of anything about Manhattan College Baseball, what was it like? What skills do you think were improved the most?
NICK: Well, Manhattan University isn’t known for its baseball so we weren’t exactly catered to like other schools. And you’ve got to get by playing baseball everyday and improving in the facilities that we are given to work in. But my coaches really improved my game full circle, my coaches were excellent.
ELI: Were you in contact with any major league club leading into the draft?
NICK: Yeah a couple, but the Cardinals were definitely the most interested. I went to a tryout for the Cardinals and Phillies, took some questionnaires for the Astros and other teams, but the Cardinals kept in touch the most.
ELI: What was it like when you got the call?
NICK: Oh, it was great, overwhelmed by the situation. I was at my girlfriend’s house when it happened. And I got a call from a scout with the Cardinals tell me I got drafted, and man was I excited.
ELI: When you were drafted, did you even consider not playing baseball?
NICK: No, not at all. It is a dream of any kid to play professional ball so when the opportunity presented it self, I was happy and ready to go. It was a no doubter.
ELI: You signed right after the draft, what was it like making the switch from the metal bat to the wooden bat?
NICK: Well, I played up in the Cape Cod league for three summers and they use wooden bats so I was pretty used to them by then. The jump wasn’t too bad it was more getting my swing down and getting comfortable where I was playing.
ELI: When do you usually go over signs with a relief pitcher? After warm up pitches when he comes into the game?
NICK: You know we usually are on the same page I just go out there to reiterate the situation, signs, batter and things like that. The pitchers are usually pretty ready so all I have to do is reiterate what the situation is and stuff like that.
ELI: Your power numbers shot up from junior to senior year, did you notice doing anything different in the off-season to prepare for senior year?
NICK: Yeah, I lifted a lot more and put a lot more work into hitting than any other year. I made sure that I got as much hitting as possible.
ELI: You are represented by Sterling Sports Management, how’d you come into contact with them?
NICK: They actually contacted me and called me. And we talked for awhile and I liked what he was telling me and now they are my acting representation.
ELI: If you could catch for one pitcher in the past or present, who would it be?
NICK: Whitey Ford.
ELI: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
NICK: Craig Biggio. He is such a good player and plays the game with such class from start to finish.
ELI: What would you rather do: Catch a perfect game to win the World Series, or hit a walk off homerun to win the World Series?
NICK: Definitely be a walk-off homerun.