Holmes named Times News/LVHN Baseball Player of the Year
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” is one of the most heralded action movies of all time, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role as a Terminator sent back in time to protect a teenager, who is the future savior of the planet.
One of the Terminator’s built-in features is that his eyes are used as a targeting system through a computer program and, needless to say, once a target is locked on — it is destroyed.
Northwestern senior catcher Derek Holmes was the real-life version of the “Terminator” during the 2019 season.
Holmes was certainly locked on to opposing pitchers, and when he saw a pitch he liked, it was “target acquired and target destroyed” as Holmes put together one of the most memorable offensive seasons in recent memory in the Times News area. His performance at the plate and behind it has earned him the Times News/Lehigh Valley Health Network Baseball Player of the Year.
Holmes isn’t new to offensive success as his junior season was a strong indicator of things to come. Holmes got hot toward the middle of his junior campaign, helping him finish the year with a .433 batting average, accumulating 39 hits, 32 RBIs and two home runs.
But that was just the beginning.
This season, Holmes ripped, raked and rocketed most every hittable ball that came his way, batting .624 with 53 hits, 36 RBIs and five homers. His on base percentage was .673 and his slugging percentage finished at 1.023.
“Derek proves the point that hard work pays off,” said Tigers head coach Duran Porrino. “He loves the game and he works hard at it every chance he gets. During the season, during the offseason, it didn’t matter. He was always sending out text messages to get guys together to hit.
“He was always hitting and working on his craft, and all that work combined with his ability, well, the numbers don’t lie. He’s exactly the type of kid you want playing for you, and I’m excited to see what he can do at the next level.”
Holmes might not have an onboard computer targeting system like the Terminator, but his own eyes and ability to see pitches isn’t far off. There’s no better indicator in Holmes’ skill to evaluate where and when a pitcher is going to throw a certain pitch than the fact that he hardly ever strikes out.
In fact, over the past two seasons Holmes has had 175 at bats. And in those 175 at bats, he’s struck out just 10 times.
“First off, I need to thank the coaching staff,” said Holmes. “They work hard with us, and then they trust us to take what they’ve taught us and apply it. In my approach, I’m just patient, but when I see something that I like, I just try to be aggressive, attack it and put the ball in play.
“I think it’s just really waiting for that best pitch and then reacting, and I think the work I’ve put in with the coaches has really helped me be confident, and it helped me have a really good year.”
For the second consecutive season, a player from Northwestern has been honored as the Times News Baseball Player of the Year (Tyler Wiik earned the award in 2018). The Tigers undoubtedly have had many players over the past two seasons experience individual success, but success as a team has been even more noteworthy.
Over the last two years, the Tigers have posted a 41-13 record and have appeared in back-to-back Colonial League Championships, and back-to-back District 11 4A Championships (winning one in 2018). They won three state playoff games a year ago, advancing to the state semifinals. This season, Porrino’s club also won a play-in game to get into the state tournament.
“This has been a great two-year run and it’s all thanks to the work our coaches put in with us and the work we put in as players,” said Holmes. “I wouldn’t be where I am, and I wouldn’t have had the season I had without my teammates.
“We have had so much fun together, playing in all these different championship games. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Holmes’ Northwestern career might be over, but he still has plenty of baseball left to play. Holmes was a part of the Lehigh Valley team that advanced to the Carpenter Cup championship game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia earlier this summer and also plays legion ball for the Northern Valley Chargers in the Lehigh Valley League. In the fall, Holmes will continue his academic and athletic career at Moravian College in Bethlehem.
“I just want to thank everyone — my friends, family, players and coaches, but most importantly my parents,” said Holmes. “They’ve always been my biggest supporters, driving me to three different sports my whole life. They’ve always supported, but never pressured me, and they’ve helped make me who I am today.”