SHANKS: First off, how was Myrtle Beach?
DEVINE: It was a great experience. I had a chance to be with a lot of the players down there and meet some of the coaches. I established some great relationships with those guys. It was a great transition step basically from leaving Raleigh and being only three hours away. It was a great atmosphere, with great fan support. It was just great baseball. It was a fabulous two weeks for the time I was there.
SHANKS: What's the biggest difference in pro baseball from college baseball?
DEVINE: The biggest difference is just being able to adjust - first to the strike zone. In college you probably have two or three good hitters on each ball club if not more. In High-A with Myrtle Beach and now in AA the hitters are just getting better each step of the way. That's a major adjustment you have to make; you have to really focus on making that pitch when you have to make that pitch. One thing I've noticed is that I've had more walks in two months that what I had total in my junior year at N.C. State. That's just a transition phase of learning the new strike zone and getting familiar with it. One thing I've learned about that is attacking the hitters and making them hit your pitch. If it's going to be your first pitch, then so be it, but to try to establish it and to try to get ahead.
SHANKS: How much did your college experience help you to move up so fast?
DEVINE: It was unbelievable – an unbelievable experience at N.C. State. I think that it bettered me for this situation. I was extremely prepared for this next step in playing professional baseball, and the three years at N.C. State with the coaches was great. The whole university helped me get to this point, and so I have to say thanks to those guys for a fabulous three years. If I didn't have a great university like N.C. State that prepared me for this, I don't know where I'd be or how I'd be doing.
SHANKS: So how have you done here in Pearl?
DEVINE: Actually, I think I've done pretty well. There have been a couple of (sub par) outings, but the good thing about it is I've been able to learn from the pitches that have been hit. I've made a major step. For about a two or three week period I felt my velocity was down a little bit. Coach (Kent) Willis has been out here helping me with some mechanical issues, and we've fixed something with my mechanics. So my velocity and the deception on my slider is back where it needs to be. My last two or three outings I've felt – even last night (when he gave up five unearned runs) I felt great. I felt I had great stuff. I felt I had the same stuff I had my last outing in Chattanooga and I threw very well. I think it's been a great transition, and I've learned quite a bit.
SHANKS: So tell me about your stuff.
DEVINE: I throw a fastball. My slider is based off of a knuckle-curveball grip. My arm angle is down a little bit it has more of a slider rotation on it.
SHANKS: What do you think about the next couple of weeks? Is it in your mind to get the call to Atlanta?
DEVINE: Oh it's definitely possible. I can't control what happens. The only thing I can control is what I do every single day, and that's coming out to the field here and my team now is in Mississippi. I'm just working every day being with these guys and coming out everyday to try to get better as a player and also as a person to carry myself in a great manner off the field as well. I think that's extremely important. These next two weeks as we get to the end of the season are definitely exciting. It would be a dream come true to get a phone call saying you're on your way to Atlanta. I'm just going to go out and pretty much take the same approach as I took (leading up to) the draft out of college.
SHANKS: Is it hard not to think about it though, especially when you see the Atlanta bullpen struggle?
DEVINE: It is. I'd be a liar if I said it wasn't. That's everything kid's dream – to play at this level and to one day get that call up and get that next step to play at the ultimate goal. I think about it everyday. I do think about it everyday, but once I step out on the field those thoughts exit the mind and I just prepare myself for, like in today's case, how we're going to beat Jacksonville. That's the biggest thing on my mind right now, and I'll just let everything else take care of itself.
SHANKS: But it could almost be like K-Rod from a few years ago, couldn't it? He came up late in the season and batters had trouble hitting him. That would be great, right?
DEVINE: You know that really hasn't crossed my mind. The biggest thing I've been concentrating on is just getting better.
Here's the interview we did with Devine after he was drafted two months ago:
Devine ready for start of his Braves' career
Bill Shanks has a new book on baseball scouting and player development philosophies called Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRAVESCENTER EXCLUSIVE: Joey Devine Interview
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