Exeter catcher Derian Sarlat aims for the sky

Photos by Ric Webb Derian Sarlat is back playing for the Exeter Blue Jays after playing for Kutztown University in the spring.
Exeters Derian Sarlat has dreams of being a Major League player. Some think he has a shot at his dream.

Exeter Legion catcher Derian Sarlat is back for his final season of summer American Legion baseball. He is one of two college players (with Jake Lloyd the other) on the squad this season, and hes hoping to make some noise with the Blue Jays this season. So far, it appears he has.

Coming back to legion from college baseball is a bit different, Sarlat said. The tempo of the game and the way all the kids play is a bit more laid back. At school, baseball is what most of the kids on the team are playing. Theyre not playing multiple sports. Theyre all dedicated to it. The heart they have for the game is unbelievable.

In legion ball, we have kids from all over, so youre not playing a full year. At Kutztown, where I go to school, youre together all the time, and thats a big difference. Its not just a summer thing.

Sarlat said that it was important for him to come back and play legion baseball this summer.

I love playing for Coach (Tony) Fegely. Hes like a dad to me, and has been there for me since I started playing legion ball. The kids on the team are also awesome, and Ive played with them since before high school, and I love them like brothers. Jake Lloyd is my best friend and we both decided that we would come back and try to win a championship for Coach Fegely and do it as a team.

As a starter for four years on the legion team, Sarlat has gained a lot of confidence from his coach.

Ever since I was a freshman in high school, he (Fegely) really looked forward to having me play for him, and he said right from the start that he could get me to college level baseball, said Sarlat. He told me I have the talent and what it takes to get to that level, and he was willing to do what he had to in order for me to get there.

As a member of the Kutztown University baseball team, Sarlat and his mates won the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship. The catcher noted that it was the first time hes ever won a championship of that caliber.

Its the best thing thats ever happened to me, said Sarlat. When we won, there was a huge dog pile on the field, and I was able to celebrate with my teammates. It was the best feeling I had in my life, and thats what I want to have with my legion teammates. That would be an awesome thing to accomplish with this group.

Sarlat said in order to keep performing at a good clip individually this year, hell have to stay up on himself.

I may be upset with myself if I strike out, or not hit the ball the way I want to, but Ive been pretty good in adjusting from college level ball back to legion level, he said. Its taken some time, but Ive gotten into the swing of things.

What hes done individually has helped the team tremendously.

We have a lot of younger kids on the team, and they know I won a championship (in college) this year, and they all know me and think Im a pretty good player, said Sarlat. I have their backs and they have mine, and they look up to me in whatever I do, so I have to make sure I stay on them, and keep a level head for my teammates.

Sarlat is one of the leaders on the legion team.

I try and make sure everyone has a level head going into a game, said Sarlat. Anyone can lose their heads with certain things, but its really big for Jake (Lloyd) and I to stay on top of these kids to make sure they dont get too high on themselves, and at the same time, not get too low as well.

One of Sarlats dreams growing up was to be a catcher at the Major League level.

Ive been told by a few coaches that I may have the opportunity, as near or far as it may seem, to do that, he said. I just have to keep hitting and get bigger. Ive been going to the gym and have a personal trainer, and Im trying to build my size and get at bats. Ive been told if I keep getting at bats, I may have a shot in the next two years.