Houston Astros: Talking Stros with Chris Devenski (Interview)

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Devenski Photo Credit to Tammy Tucker.
Devenski Photo Credit to Tammy Tucker. /
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We Interview Houston Astros Prospect Chris Devenski on #TalkingStros

The Houston Astros are supposedly interested in signing Doug Fister, as I wrote about last night here: Team Considering Doug Fister for Rotation. If Fister were to sign, this would have a chain reaction throughout the Astros organization. Two veterans are trying to fight for the fifth spot in the rotation, between Scott Feldman and Dan Straily, along with a few young pitchers trying to break into the big leagues in 2016. One of those players is Chris Devenski, who won the Corpus Christi Pitcher of the Year Award in 2015 and the other was Brady Rodgers

As some of you know, I have started a new Astros talk show called @TalkingStros on @KTXFdbTheReel. We are currently broadcasting every Tuesday night from 7-9 PM at 2-A-Day-Sports-Bar on Pearland Parkway. Next week we have A.J. Reed and Jordan Jankowski joining us, search #TalkingStros for more details.

Devenski was the player the Astros received in the Brett Myers trade. He was drafted in 2011 in the 25th round by the White Sox as a reliever before he was converted to a starter early in his career.

He went 7-4/ 3.01 ERA/ 104 strikeouts in 119 2/3 innings. (Stats from Baseball-Reference)

Here is the Chris Devenski portion of the interview, you can read or listen to the full show below.

Chris Devenski Interview

CTH/TexSR: What was it like pitching in the Triple-A National Championship game and almost pitching a perfect game?

Devenski: It was a blast, there was a lot of adrenaline going on. It was at a neutral place in El Paso, so fans were cheering for both teams, it was cool for me being it was the first time to play in a neutral ballpark. It was really cool, right on the Texas/Mexico border, there was a lot to do there, great scenery. I wanted to go out there and give them everything I got to give my team a chance to win. We went up early in the game, and I ended up getting the W.

CTH/TexSR: I know you went to Venezuela, but what has been your offseason throwing program?

Devenski: I threw a bullpen today, it went really well, I was very happy. There are a lot of things that I am working on; I’m always trying to better myself and better my mind, and get my body in the best shape possible. I’m looking forward to the season coming up.

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CTH/TexSR: Can you tell the listeners about the interaction between you and your Low-A coach when you moved to the rotation?

Devenski: We had a starting pitcher in the rotation get hurt, my pitching coach told me before the game that there was a possibility that I could be turned into a starter, he asked me, and I said that I was up for it. After the game, my manager called me into the office, he told me that you are going to be in the rotation now, but you are going to be in the rotation at Rookie ball. We are sending you down, when he told me that, I was kind of disappointed because I didn’t want to be sent down. But he was kidding with me, he caught me off guard, and it shocked me. He then told me that I would remain with the team and stay in the rotation.

CTH/TexSR: I understand you went down to Venezuela this offseason, how was your experience there?

Devenski: It was a grind, it was tough, it was a big culture shock for me. I had to adapt to a whole new environment, it was humbling and touching at the same time. I got sick for a little while, but baseball is baseball wherever you go. Guys are going to compete, I had as much fun with it as I could, I kind of missed home, and it was a learning lesson.

CTH/TexSR: How’s your Spanish?

Devenski: Muy poco mis hermanos!

CTH/TexSR: One of your teammates down there was Sean Burroughs, did you get to hang out with him?

Devenski: I saw Sean three days before I left, but Sean is from my area where I live in California, we had a lot in common, and we did a lot of talking, he had a pretty good career over here, and I think he does well down there too.

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CTH/TexSR: You played at Cal State Fullerton in 2010 with Christian Colon and Gary Brown, is that right?

Devenski: No, I was there the following year in 2011. But, I knew about the legacy that Colon and Brown left there.

CTH/TexSR: What were your thoughts on the Rule V process?

Devenski: It is what it is, it was kind of disappointing a little bit, but the future is always bright. I am still a Houston Astro, I hope to make my debut with the Astros, I’m looking forward to contributing in any way possible.

CTH/TexSR: If you did get drafted, you would have a pretty god chance of being an MLB player this year, but you have a chance here as well. I’m glad you are still an Astro! Trent Woodward said that you have one of the best _____ pitches that he has seen, can you tell us about that pitch?

Devenski: I appreciate that Trent if he’s listening. He’s an overall good dude, but it’s the changeup.

CTH/TexSR: Would you agree Brady, you have seen him pitch at least once I think?

Rodgers: Yes, I did see him pitch, but I have also seen him pitch before this year as well, it’s always been a good pitch for him.

CTH/TexSR: How is playing with A.J. Reed, is he a good defensive first baseman?

Devenski: Yes, he can pick it, overall, he’s a great player. I’ve seen him do some good things, you know, everyone knows him for his offensive skills, which is tremendous. But don’t let his size deceive you, he can play very well at first base.

CTH/TexSR: Besides the changeup, what other pitches do you throw and at what speed?

Devenski: I can run it up to 94 with my fastball, I sit between 90-94. I have my changeup, that’s my baby, I love my changeup. My curveball is a work in progress as always, but I’m always trying to perfect that and make that better. It’s come a long way, especially after working with Doug Brocail last year in Corpus, he’s given me a few tips on that. I throw a cutter and splitter too, but not as often as my three dominant pitches.

CTH/TexSR: What lead to your success last year?

Devenski: Mentally I was stronger last year, I had a better routine, and I was more prepared. I got to know myself better and what I could do on the field, how to go about my business the right way, and study hitters to try to figure out how to get hitters out. It all worked together for me.

CTH/TexSR: When did you know you wanted to become an MLB pitcher someday?

Devenski: Since the first time I had a glove when I was a kid, my mom got me a Mizuno glove that was bigger than my face, I was always around baseball. Somewhere between five and eight years old, I knew that baseball was something that I wanted to do with my heart.

CTH/TexSR: Did you grow up rooting for any team in particular?

Devenski: I was a Yankees fan growing up, I was a big Jeter fan because I also played shortstop when I was younger, so I was a hitter. I loved playing short, and I modeled my game after Jeter. (Did you ever get the chance to wear number 2?) I did, but everyone wanted to wear number two when I was younger, so I changed over to #24, I have some other numbers like #32 and #13.

CTH/TexSR: What’s your favorite movie?

Devenski: It’s got to be Major League or the Natural, anything that has to do with baseball.

CTH/TexSR: What type of music are you into?

Devenski: Coming from the West Coast, there is a big Hip Hop scene out here, I like Hip Hop, Reggae, and a little old-school classic rock that my dad listened too. Not too much Country, but maybe when I get to Houston, I might have to start checking that out. (Note: Just because we live in Texas, doesn’t mean we are all into Country, Chris!)

CTH/TexSR: Because of your Twitter handle, do you listen to much Devo? Do you whip it real good?

Devenski: No, not so much, I know they wear those crazy red hats.

CTH/TexSR: Were the Clippers really as bad as you made them seem in the Triple-A championship game?

Devenski: It was funny, I was keeping them off balance, I was throwing in, throwing at their hands. My changeup was working, throwing my curveball for strikes, I was able to throw any pitch at any moment, I had them off balance.

CTH/TexSR: You went to Venezuela, you talked about that earlier, was there anything in particular, you wanted to work on?

Devenski: The competition was a little bit different, I had to make adjustments, it took me a little bit to get adjusted to the league, get used to the hitters and how to get them out. I was starting to pick it up, I wish I could have stayed a little longer, I think I could have done pretty well there.

CTH/TexSR: I’m not sure if you heard about Brady and Mark Appel‘s trip to spring training last year, but they took turns answering questions on Twitter on the drive down to Florida. Do you want to fly to Houston and drive with Brady this year and do the same thing?

Devenski: No, I’m going to fly. I drove last year from California, that was quite a hike.

CTH/TexSR: Do you have a feeling that 2016 could be your year?

Devenski: I do, I feel like I am ready, I just want to be given the chance and opportunity to go out there and compete.

CTH/TexSR: Who would be the first person you call when you get the call to the Astros?

Devenski: My mom and my dad.

CTH/TexSR: How was that Hooks dinner that you and Jon Kemmer went to?

Devenski: There were a lot of local fans there showing their support. Fans that I interacted with while I was there, I have great respect for the city of Corpus with their fan base there. They do an unbelievable job at Whataburger Field; they played a huge role to me having that success last year. I was able to go out there every day, it was for the fans out there in Corpus, they showed us so much love out there. There were a lot of fans, our hitting coach Dan Radison was there, a few guys from the Astros front office were there.

CTH/TexSR: Are you open to coming to the big leagues Roy Oswalt style, meaning start in the bullpen, then get moved to the rotation later?

Devenski: A reliever, I wouldn’t mind, I have done it before. It’s something I can do; I can do both if I have to. Whatever my calling becomes is what I will do, game on.

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CTH/TexSR: What was your best/bizarre moment on the baseball field?

Devenski: The most bizarre moment has to be when I threw that no-hitter, I didn’t expect it to happen in 2012. It was funny, I threw the first pitch of the game and I was like oh, something different, lights out, everything was working. After the game, my teammates were celebrating with me, and I was thanking my catcher when I got shaving cream all in my face, it’s all in my throat, I’m throwing up shaving cream during interviews. It was pretty bizarre.

CTH/TexSR: You are in competition with several people this spring for the fifth starter, including the guy sitting right here, what have you done this offseason to get ready to compete?

Devenski: I’m working my tail off, I am grinding every day, I’m doing whatever it takes to prepare myself and mentally ready to make the team. I’m going to go out there and compete and dominate.

CTH/TexSR: I’m sure if I asked you and Brady who would make the team, you would both say the other guy, because that’s the type of guys you are. But I wanted to wish you both luck because you are both good in your own ways. 

Devenski: Thanks, man, good luck Brady.

Next: Astros Rumors: Team Considering Doug Fister for Rotation

Thanks to Devenski for taking the time to call into Talking Stros. Even if the Astros sign a veteran starter, expect to see Devenski at some point this season. If you would like to follow Devenski, you can do so at @ddddeevvvoooo. Check in for the next Talking Stros this Tuesday from 7-9 PM CST at 2-A-Days-Sports-Bar on Beltway 8 and Pearland Parkway. Next week we will have A.J. Reed and Jordan Jankowski calling in.

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