After 18 minor league appearances, Devine was summoned into the office Mississippi Braves manager Brian Snitker and told to report to the Atlanta Braves. He was in the big leagues.
NC State's career saves leader, Devine went 5-3 with a 2.03 ERA and 12 saves as a junior for the Wolfpack in 2005. He is one of just three Atlantic Coast Conference pitchers ever to earn 10 saves or more in three different seasons, and he finished his career ranked third in ACC history in career saves.
The Braves took Devine with the 27th pick in the first round of this year's First-Year Player Draft, and he blazed a brief but dominant trail through the Atlanta farm system. Five scoreless and hitless appearances at Myrtle Beach of the advanced Class A Carolina League got him promoted to Mississippi of the Double-A Southern League, where he went 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA and five saves in 18 appearances. In 20 innings, he allowed19 hits and 12 walks while striking out 28. He held Double-A hitters to a .250 batting average.
According to his agent, Bobby Barad of TWC Management, Devine was on cloud nine after receiving the news, and he attributed much of his success to his three years in Raleigh.
"I was talking with Joey [right after the promotion], telling him about what a tremendous accomplishment this is for him," Barad said. "He told me, 'You know, I don't think about it that way. For the last three years, it's all been about the team doing well, and that's the way I go about things. That's how we do it at NC State. It's about the team.' He credited Coach Avent and the coaching staff with instilling that mindset into the players.
"Don't get me wrong; Joey's happy as can be about getting called up to Atlanta, but he just kept talking about NC State and the way they do things there. I know from talking with the Braves that they're really happy with his makeup and mental toughness, with the way he's a quiet leader. I think a lot of that comes from his three years at NC State."
Devine was due to report to Atlanta for a 1:20 p.m. game against the San Diego Padres on August 20.
With his rapid ascent to the major leagues, Devine becomes the first former NC State player to play at NC State and in the major leagues in the same calendar year since lefthander Mike Caldwell in 1971. Devine joins former teammate Chad Orvella in the big leagues. Orvella, who played shortstop and pitched for the Pack in 2002-03, is a reliever with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Orvella is 2-2 with a 3.76 ERA and one save in 27 appearances, through games of August 19.
Wolfpack Notebook: The 2006 edition of NC State baseball reported to Doak Field for meetings and conditioning drills following the start of classes on August 17. The best news the Wolfpack received was the return of All-America first baseman Aaron Bates, an eighth-round draft pick of the Florida Marlins in June. Once Bates, a rising junior, returned to classes this fall, the Marlins lost the rights to sign him. Florida's loss is clearly NC State's gain.
Bates in 2005 put together one of the greatest seasons ever by an NC State hitting, batting .425 with 12 home runs and 64 RBIs. His batting average was the second highest in school history and came within two points of the ACC lead for the '05 campaign. He actually hit better and better as the season progressed, hitting an even .500 over the final 28 games of the year.
Bates followed up his 2005 season with the Wolfpack by raking the Cape Cod League, which is a notorious pitchers' league. Bates was named team MVP for the Brewster Whitecaps after hitting .333 with four doubles, three home runs and 16 RBIs in 30 games. Bates led the league with a .446 on-base percentage, was fourth in batting average, and fifth with a .457 slugging percentage. In his last game with Brewster, he went 5-for-5.
Summer All-Stars: Bates was one of three NC State players to earn a berth in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game, played July 30 at McKeon Park in Hyannis. Bates was joined by Wolfpack junior righthander Gib Hobson of Bourne and catcher Jon Still of Falmouth. Still is a transfer from Stetson and will be a junior for the Pack in 2006. He and Hobson were on the West team, while Bates was on the East team.
Hobson finished the Cape Cod League season with a 6-1 record and a 2.55 ERA for Bourne. He worked 49 1/3 innings and allowed just 39 hits while walking 10 and striking out 35. He finished second in the league in wins, and held opposing hitters to a .219 batting average. Still batted .316 with five doubles, five home runs and 28 RBIs.
Prior to the All-Star Game, Bates won the All-Star Home Run Derby, winning the finals by hitting the first six pitches he saw out of the park for home runs.
In addition to Bates, Hobson and Still, third baseman Matt Mangini was named to the Northwoods League's All-Star team after batting .344 with 13 doubles, six home runs and 43 RBIs in 52 games for the Thunder Bay Border Cats. Mangini, a sophomore in 2006, was among the league leaders in batting average, doubles, home runs and RBIs.
Newcomers: Jon Still is one of three transfers joining the Wolfpack this season. He earned second-team all-conference honors in the Atlantic Sun Conference after batting .305 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 48 RBIs as a sophomore at Stetson in 2005. He batted .343 with 16 doubles, two home runs and 47 RBIs as a freshman in 2004, earning Freshman All-America honors that year from Collegiate Baseball and Louisville Slugger.
Sophomore righthander Joel Brookens came to NC State this fall after a standout season at George Washington, where he went 0-1 with a 2.53 ERA. He led the Atlantic 10 Conference with 10 saves. He made 31 appearances, worked 32 innings, and allowed 20 hits, walked 13 and recorded 45 strikeouts. He held opposing hitters to a .174 average.
Senior righthander Ammer Cabrera went 4-3 with a 5.46 ERA as a junior at Florida International in 2005. Cabrera made 16 starts and 22 relief appearances for FIU from 2003-05. He worked a career-high 56 innings in 2005.
The three transfers join a group of six scholarship freshmen: outfielder Marcus Jones from Washington, D.C.; infielder Drew Martin from Gastonia, N.C.; outfielder Jason Rago from Fairfield, Conn.; lefthanded pitcher Eric Surkamp of Cincinnati, Ohio; infielder Jeremy Synan of Brown Summitt, N.C.; and lefthander Andrew Taylor of Wake Forest, N.C.