Hard work and good coaching, that’s what former Thunderbirds pitcher Derek Cone credited for his rise to professional baseball. Cone, a righty out of Desert Vista High School, recently signed a deal to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Cone said the signing almost didn’t happen.
“I was all moved in and signed a 12 month lease for an apartment in Provo when a couple days before the signing deadline I received a call saying the Dodgers would come up to my asking price,” Cone said.
He attributed pitching coach Tom Novak with being a mentor and helping to improve his game.
Cone said that Novak “helped me to understand that when the ball didn’t go where I wanted it, I could understand why and make the adjustments myself.”
Mesa head coach Tony Cirelli was also given credit by Cone for his improvement.
“(Cirelli) pushed me, and had higher expectations for me at MCC than the other pitchers and when he wasn’t happy with my performance he was sure to let me know about it. Setting the bar high only made me a better pitcher,” Cone said.
Cone stated he didn’t have many pre-game rituals.
“When I’m pitching I will look to the flag pole before the inning starts and I will visualize a number one, meaning to throw one pitch at a time. The other is that I will wipe dirt off the rubber with my cleat after a hit or a walk to symbolize that that pitch is over and this is a new batter or a clean slate.”
Cone is currently playing fall ball for the organization.
He finished his final season at Mesa in which he made the All Region I DII Second team.
He had the second most strikeouts with 105, and was seventh best in ERA with a 1.93.