Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Interview with RHP Chris Devenski

Chris Devenski was a 25th round draft pick by the White Sox in 2011 out of Cal State Fullerton. He came to the Houston organization on August 3, 2012 as the PTBNL in the trade that brought LHP Blair Walters and RHP Matt Heidenreich to Houston while sending Brett Myers to the White Sox. In five starts for Lexington after the trade, he was 2-2 with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.330 WHIP, but it was his fifth and last start of the season that made an indelible mark. On September 1st, Devenski threw a nine-inning complete game no-hitter, the first in Lexington Legends history. He also struck out 16 batters and was only one walk away from a perfect game.

I caught up with Chris via email and this is what he had to say ~

WTH: You were probably the last player to join the Astros during the season as the PTBNL in the Myers trade. Was it difficult to come to a new team that late in the season, particularly one that you had been playing against all season?

CD: Yes, It was difficult leaving the White Sox; it was my team for 4 months. I was accustomed to my fellow teammates, coaches and fans. When the trade happened, I looked at the situation with a positive attitude and I can adapt to situations easily. When I joined the Astros, I was friendly and upbeat to my new fellow teammates knowing it takes some time to adjust.

WTH: Could you tell me a little about your pitch repertoire, including velocity, movement, etc.

CD: I throw a 2-seam fastball with sink movement on it. My velocity varies from 90 to 95 mph occasionally surpassing 95 mph. My secondary pitches include a change up that has downward movement on it, which is the pitch that works best for me. I also throw a 12 to 6 curveball.

WTH: Since I haven't seen you pitch yet, what will I see from you when I do?

CD: When you first see me throw, you will see a focused, quick working, confident and consistent pitcher with good command.

WTH: In your limited time at Lexington, was there another player or pitcher on the team that you liked to just sit back and watch?

CD: When at Lexington I liked observing all my teammates. I especially observed Mike Foltynewicz and Brandon Meredith. Mike is very exciting to watch. He is quick worker and throws very hard. He was the South Atlantic pitcher of the year which is a great honor. Brandon is also fun to watch because you never know what you're going to see from him. You can see him hit singles, doubles, triples, and home runs. He has extreme power to hit the ball all over the field.

WTH: In only your fifth start with Lexington, you pitched what would be for many the game of a lifetime, a complete game no-hitter that was one walk away from being a perfect game. When did you realize that you had a no-no going? What went through your mind when you walked a batter in the fifth? Since you struck out 16 batters, your defense had a relatively easy time of it. Where there any defensive plays that made your heart skip a beat? What was your mindset getting that last out?

CD: Pitching a no-hitter for Lexington was an individual accomplishment of a lifetime for me. I realized I had a no-hitter going when I went out for the 5th inning, I knew I was about to do something very special. When I walked the batter in the 5th inning it was a battle between me and him. He was determined and fouling a lot of pitches off. I was focused on getting him out, then I threw a change up on full count that dived in the dirt. After that I knew it wouldn't be a perfect game because I walked him. I was a little frustrated but the chance of a no-hitter was still there. So I re-focused on the next pitch. My defense did an extremely good job that night. Two plays stood out in my mind and got my blood rushing. The first one was a long fly ball out into deep right center near the warning track -- it was saved by Teoscar Hernandez who made a tremendous catch. The second play was a slow roller hit in between the mound and first base. I went for it and it got past me. I thought the hitter was going to beat it out. Then Chan Moon, our second baseman, came out of no where, scooped up the grounder, threw to first and got the runner out by a step. What a relief. For me, getting the last out was electrifying. The energy level from the players, the fans, took me to a whole different level. The last pitch I threw was a change up to strike him out. I threw it as hard as I could and the batter swung right through it. When I knew I had accomplished the no-hitter, the feeling was unbelievable. It is hard to put into words. This is what I can give you -- I felt like I was floating, everything was happening so fast. From my teammates mobbing me, to taking pictures, the crowd cheering, interviewers and getting blasted with shaving cream, it was an experience of a lifetime that I will never forget. When the no-hitter was done,  everyone was caught up in the moment. Earlier in the game Matt Duffy put on a show. He contributed two home runs and five RBI. He also made a great catch in foul territory in the bullpen avoiding a trash can. It was a great game for both myself and Matt Duffy.

WTH: I noticed on twitter than you seem to know Joe Musgrove. How do you know him?

CD: Yes, I do know Joe Musgrove, we were both part of trades and I met him during instructional league in Florida. We are both from Southern California and Joe lives in San Diego. I live closer to Los Angeles. We both meet up and do workouts together in San Diego; we also have the same pitching coach and are good friends.

WTH: What do you think you accomplished in your first full season and what do you think you need to do to get to the next level developmentally?

CD: I learned a lot about myself and what it takes to be a successful pitcher. I accomplished the success of throwing a no-hitter. To get to the next level I need to stay focused and stay mentally strong. I will also have to challenge myself.

WTH: What would you do if you couldn't play baseball?

CD: If I couldn't play baseball I would most likely still be in college finishing my degree in criminal justice. I would continue to pursue a career in criminal justice most likely, eventually detective work. I would also would be helping my Dad out with his moving business.

WTH: What are you doing in the off-season?

CD: In my offseason, I'm getting better mentally and physically every day by working hard at everything I do. I run, do workouts in San Diego and work with my Dad doing physical work. I've always been a hard worker at anything I do and I am looking forward to being back on the field soon.

WTH: Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?

CD: Most people do not know that I have a twin sister named Amanda. I am 6 minutes older than her. I also like to draw and do artwork in my free time.

Thank you for your time, Chris. Good luck in the 2013 season. No pressure, but I'll be making the rounds of some of the Astros minor league venues again next season and I've never seen a no-hitter in person before so ... Just sayin'.

Chris is fairly new to twitter. Give him a follow at @ddddeevvvoooo

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