Joe DeMers, a top recruit in the class of 2016, has always had the fastball and makings up a plus slider and a game-use changeup. But in two seasons at Washington, the California native has been a work-in-progress.
The operative word being 'work.'
DeMers has pitched his way back onto scouts' radar early in 2018. He's always thrown strikes, but now he's throwing quality strikes, and doing so with his fastball and slider, both, and MLB Draft scouts are noticing.
The junior threw a perfect game in February, the 5th in Pac-12 history and the first ever for Washington, but that was simply a result of DeMers' progress on the mound and scouts are liking what DeMers is showing.
"You can see he's confident," said an area scout. "His (fastball) command has been there, his delivery, he's replicating a lot better."
DeMers typically sits 89-92 mph with the heater but can reach back for 95. There's some life on the pitch up in the zone and he's been able to take advantage of the upper-edges of his velocity range and the upper-zone movement.
His slider can be a swing-and-miss offering with late downward bite. He has a changeup that works well when he gets ahead and can throw it with confidence down in the zone.
DeMers' work with pitching coach Jason Kelly is paying off in a big way.
"He's been a different guy so far," a second area scout said. "I saw the perfecto, but that wasn't his most impressive game outside the efficiency. He had better secondaries against Sac State, I thought. But he pounded the zone both times."
DeMers backed up his first two starts with 7 2/3 innings versus Michigan State Friday night in Minneapolis at the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. He yielded one run on five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out five.
Perhaps most impressively, he induced 13 ground balls out and needed just 88 pitched to get 23 outs. He needed just 84 pitches in the perfect game versus UC-Riverside.
The 6-foot-, 235-pound DeMers is the Huskies' ace and early on he's been worthy of the title and then some.
He's also jumped a tick or two higher on scouts' radar as they prepare for June's MLB Draft. Whether or not DeMers is among the more signable prospects in the class remains to be seen, but in the evaluation of some he's gone from a 8th-10th round project to a potential 3rd-4th round pick.