Quad Cities River Bandits Notebook: Week 3

Deryk Hooker shares lessons learned in baseball and life, his interests and what makes him go.

It has been a good week in Davenport. The River Bandits went 5-2 on the week. Saturday's game was rained out but made up with a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. Monday the 26th was the team's first day off. Pitching is improving, hitting is getting more consistent, and the team looks more like a professional unit every day.

I still haven't seen any "star" performances by individual players, but I continue to be impressed overall. I remain intrigued by Luis Mateo and Ryde Rodriguez. I believe they will really rise to the top as the year progresses. Edgar Lara was a puzzle when he arrived. He was swinging at everything but he is now very disciplined at the plate. I want to see more of the bullpen, but that will mostly have to wait until the tandem rotation is retired again.

As promised, I was able to sit down with one of our young pitchers this week to get a player's perspective on life in the minor leagues.

I'm here with Deryk Hooker, starting pitcher for the River Bandits. Thank you for taking time to talk to me today.

You're welcome, Jon!

First off, where is home for you?

Home—that would be San Diego, CA.

Where did you go to school?

Mira Mesa High School, I graduated in 2007.

And where did you play last year?

I broke camp here but I got in a little trouble and I went home and took care of business. Then I played in Batavia, NY.

Since you brought it up, what advice do you have for kids regarding your suspension last year?

Well, I was right out of high school, I was kind of young and I made some wrong choices. I totally regret them. It was a life lesson for me. I'm happy it happened now, early in my career compared to later when it could have been worse and I could have gotten in more trouble. Drugs are something to stay away from and I definitely regret getting into them. It happened, but I'm glad there's help out there.

So, how did you get involved in baseball?

My dad got me involved when I was a kid. I was just an average player until I was about the age of 11-12 and that's when things started to roll for me and I got pretty good. I started playing more and I loved the game! One thing lead to another and here I am!

Tell us how you were scouted and how you were signed.

Well, I was on a travel team called the Bulldogs. My coach was Mike Spears and he had a lot of pull with a lot of different teams and colleges throughout the nation. I played in a few tournaments and I lit up the radar guns a little bit when I was younger and they paid attention to me. I committed to Arizona State University after my sophomore year—a verbal commitment but after some trouble with the school there I de-committed there and committed to San Diego State and I was scouted pretty heavily through high school.

Who is your mentor in the game? Who do you try to emulate in your pitching?

Uh, that's a tough one! Chris Carpenter's a great mentor in the game to look at what he has done and so is Adam Wainwright. I like to kind of think of myself as one of them. I mean, they are the greats of the game. I definitely want to throw like them. I feel like I have some of the same stuff that Adam Wainwright has.

If you had to choose, would you rather go to the All-Star Game in June or to the league finals in September?

Ooh. Well, the All-Star game is very prestigious, so I'd like to play in that but I'd LOVE to play in a Midwest League Championship! I'd love to get a ring, so, I'd like to go all the way this year.

What other Major League teams did you consider? Who else was scouting you?

I know the San Diego Padres were interested, and the Oakland A's.

Since you're from San Diego, are you a Padres fan?

Oh, yes, most definitely.

After the games, are there times that fans intrude too much, does it get a little overbearing?

Um, somewhat, but not too bad. I don't mind signing autographs. I mean, I love the fact that these kids out here really think I'm worth something. It makes me feel really good about myself. So, I don't mind it at all.

What kind of guidance have you gotten as you made your transition from playing high school ball to being a professional athlete?

I've gotten some good pitching advice, you know, and I've learned a lot myself to just take a step back and look at the game. You've really got to be a student of the game. It's not like you can go and blow fast balls by every hitter now. You've got to learn how to pitch and locate and mix up pitches and throw more than just a fast ball.

Thanks! Now, a little about you as a person--what's the best dinner that you cook for yourself?

Probably today after the game I'm going to go home and throw a steak on the grill. I like to do a lot of meat and a lot of fish. I like to do a nice barbecue.

What's your dream car?

My dream car...ooh.... well, I would like to drive a Nissan Skyline R34 but those aren't legal in the United States!

If you were not able to make your professional life in sports, what would you do instead?

I would be on the crab boats on "The Deadliest Catch." I'd be a crab fisherman in Alaska! No doubt in my mind!

Who is here in your professional life to challenge you to be the best that you can?

That would be my family. They really want me to succeed. Nobody has ever been a professional athlete before. My dad was a great athlete and I know it makes him proud to see me doing well here in pro ball. I do it for myself but I love that it makes them proud.

What about in your personal life? Who holds you accountable?

Oh, that's my mom! And my girlfriend as well. They both check in with me pretty consistently to make sure I'm staying right on track with what I'm doing. I know they both want to see me go far and do well.

One last question. What should baseball fans know about you that they probably don't already know?

They can always catch me after a game down at the river throwing a line in the water. I'm an avid fisherman. I want to be on Bassmaster Classic someday. I don't know if that's ever going to happen, but... and if they ever need a bite to eat, they can always come over and I'll cook up something for them to eat!

Great! I'll take you up on that sometime! Thanks, Deryk! Keep up the good work this year.

By the numbers

Twenty Two: Most innings pitched (Eric Fornataro)

Eighteen: Games played this year

Seventeen: Most appearances by a player (Niko Vasquez and Matt Adams)

Fifteen: Most RBI (Devin Shepherd)

Fourteen: Games won

Four: Most saves (Aaron Terry)

Three: Teams with BA better than QC's .261 (Lake County .266, Wisconsin .267 and Lansing .285)

One: Team with more walks (Kane County 105 to QC 91)

.333: Best BA on the team (Jason Stidham and Matt Adams)

0.50: Best ERA (Scott Schneider)

Tasty Tidbit

As a new feature this year, I'm letting you know about new and unique things that I find in the concessions stands this summer. The first tasty tidbit to be mentioned is the "Nuts R Us" stand. They sell fresh roasted almonds, pecans and cashews all coated in a crisp covering of cinnamon sugar. The smell of roasted nuts along the third baseline is almost unfair to hungry fans! They serve a nice sized portion at a good price. If you come to a River Bandits game, don't miss "Nuts R Us"!

Editor's note: Bonus photos from Sunday's action provided by our partners and friends at Names Around Town Photography.

Luis Mateo

Jason Stidham watches Frederick Parejo scoring

Chris Notti

Parejo takes in the sights at Modern Woodmen Park

Parejo up close

Manager Johnny Rodriguez

Scott Schneider deals

Schneider is pitching so well, he gets two shots

LaCurtis Mayes

Jason Stidham is ready

Catchers Robert Stock and Ivan Castro

Niko Vasquez at third base with a bubble

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