With a 3.8 grade-point average and a football scholarship to Notre Dame, Michael Deeb’s high school career already has been phenomenally successful.
The only thing missing is a state championship — and the senior still has a chance to remedy that next month.
After taking a two-year hiatus from baseball, Deeb is back on the diamond, and he bats cleanup for a 20-2 American Heritage team that is ranked fifth in the nation by Baseball America, 12th by USA Today and 13th by Maxpreps.
“Mike is a natural baseball player,” Heritage coach Bruce Aven said of Deeb, who started playing the sport when he was 4 years old. “It’s not like we had to teach him a stance.”
A 6-2, 240-pound linebacker in football, Deeb casts an intimidating shadow at the plate. The Patriots, who are defending state champions in Class 5A, have numerous talented hitters, including catcher Zach Collins, who is a University of Miami recruit and a pro prospect.
Yet Deeb, despite being away from the game for those 24 months, is hitting .435 and leads his team with 25 RBI, averaging more than one per every two at-bats. Making his numbers even more amazing is the fact that Deeb joined the team after the first game of the season and only after he was sure playing baseball would not interfere with his training for football.
“Because he had been away from baseball for a while, we started him at the bottom of our lineup,” Aven said. “But he has a knack for RBI, so we kept moving him up.
“Our first three hitters, [Brandon] Diaz, Collins and [Danny] Zardon, are almost always on base. So Mike gets a lot of RBI chances.”
Deeb is used exclusively as a designated hitter. Not having to play the field cuts down on his baseball preparation and thus allows him more time to train for football.
Aven believes that if Deeb played baseball year-round, he would have way more than the one home run he has hit so far.
“He has crazy power, but his main priority is making contact and driving in runs,” Aven said. “If you watch him taking batting practice, you will see him drop balls into the next neighborhood.”
Deeb said he has never spoken to Notre Dame’s baseball coach and is focused on just playing football for the Fighting Irish.
In fact, he visited Notre Dame this past weekend to watch the football spring game, and he will start taking summer classes in South Bend in mid-June.
Still, he left the door open a crack for baseball.
“I’ve got to get ready to play college football at a big BCS program,” he said. “But I’m a competitor, and I’m open to all things. I’d love to play baseball if the opportunity presented itself.”
In the meantime, Deeb is busy with schoolwork, baseball and football training.
In addition, he is taking part in a fundraiser in honor of the late Andrea Lucas, a 17-year-old Heritage classmate who battled cystic fibrosis before dying two months ago.
His role in the April 28 fundraiser at the Heritage auditorium will be to sing a song by One Direction.
“That was her favorite band,” Deeb said.
Deeb and the Heritage baseball team start district playoffs Tuesday with a game against heavy underdog Hallandale (2-11).
If all goes as Heritage fans hope, Deeb and his senior teammates will enjoy an unforgettable week in late May, including graduation day on the 19th and the state final in Fort Myers on the 23rd.