Prospect # 24 - SS Devaris Strange-Gordon

The son of 19-season veteran Tom Gordon, Devaris Strange-Gordon has had to deal with adversity as his father has. Tom Gordon was told he was too small to play Major League Baseball. Devaris was also told he was too small to play professional baseball and that he was riding on his father's name. Critics couldn't have been more wrong.

5-11 150 Bl Tr
Born- April 22, 1988.
Obtained- Selected in the fourth round of the 2008 draft

Devaris wasn't interested in baseball until he was a senior in high school, much too late the critics will tell you in this day of specialization. "No Little League, no Pony League, nothing," his father told Phillies assistant GM Mike Arbuckle after a workout early in 2008.

Devaris, called "Dee" by his teammates, is a speedy, switch-hitting shortstop. After Arbuckle got a lengthy look at him he said, "He's a good athlete and he's got pretty good tools, surprising tools for a kid that hasn't played much baseball. He's an interesting kid.

"I liked the ability. He's a kid we'll continue to keep tabs on over the course of the spring. He's pretty fluid as a baseball player. I expected to see somebody who was a good athlete who was cruder in his actions, but he's not. He looks like a kid that's played."

However, the Dodgers' Logan White also recognized the talent the young man had. "We worked hard on this one," he said. "We kept really quiet about him and there was one three or four other teams that knew about him and we were worried one of them would take him before we did.

"If he wasn't the fastest guy in the draft, I don't know who was. The guy ran a 6.35 60 and automatically became the fastest player in the Dodgers' organization, including Juan Pierre.

"Now he won't steal bases right away," White continued. "But I've got to believe he certainly will in the future." Even at that, Devaris pilfered 18 bases and was thrown out only five times at Ogden in 2008.

The young man, he'll be 21 in 2009, hit a sizzling .331, third on a talent-laden Raptor team, and showed pretty good power with 13 doubles, three triples and a pair of home runs.

"He's a spray hitter and will get stronger and show more power as he gets older. He's a late bloomer," White pointed out. "All he has to do is put the ball in play and he'll get plenty of base hits for the Dodgers."

There was some question about his fielding, and he did make 24 errors, but he also had a better range factor (4.80) than shortstops Chin-Lung Hu at Las Vegas, Ivan De Jesus at Jacksonville, Jamie Pedroza at Inland Empire or Preston Mattingly at Great Lakes.

"He's got good hands and like his dad, he has a strong arm. He hasn't played all that much and he will certainly have learning pains," White said. "But the tools are there to be a special player for the Dodgers."

Tough Childhood
There was a time when sports were the furthest things from Strange-Gordon's mind.

In 1995, Devaris' mother, Devona Strange, was killed. Gordon immediately stepped up and gained legal custody of his son. But it still took awhile for the younger Gordon to come to grips with his mother's death.

"I was bad," he said. "I was just getting into trouble. Now I think about her every day. You can't forget, but at the same time I try to do the right thing because I know she's watching. They didn't think I could make it. I'm going to prove them wrong."

Devaris graduated from Avon Park High School and finished his senior with a .373 batting average and six doubles, two triples, 14 RBI and a team-high 10 stolen bases.

He was recruited by Southeastern and started 55 games as a freshman, mostly playing second base from 2006-2007. He was an All-Region selection in 2007 and was also named the 2007 NCCAA II National Tournament's Most Valuable Player. He hit .378 with 45 stolen bases, 61 runs, and 44 RBIs his freshman season.

"My dad taught me that you have to work hard," Strange-Gordon said. "I can't sit back. I've got to work hard every day."

Gordon never pushed his son into baseball. "He's a much better athlete than I was at his age," Gordon said. "He just has a feel for the game. It would be a dream to be able to be in the same uniform or to be able to face him one time."

Although Devaris only started playing baseball in high school, he made the transition from high school to college seamlessly. He makes everything seem effortless from throws to first from deep in the hole or turning a sacrifice bunt into an infield single, actions that have become routine.

"He's done a great job considering he's just picked up the game," Southeastern coach Jason Beck said. "He's very coachable and maturing every day."

"No matter what happens, I know my dad's always behind me," Devaris said.

But he doesn't want to follow completely in his footsteps. "I've got a nasty curve," said Devaris when asked about being a pitcher. "But I'd rather not pitch. I'd rather just play."

Along with a number of talented Ogden players, Devaris will probably move up to Inland Empire in 2009.

Devaris Strange-Gordon

year	 team    ave  obp  ops  gm   ab   r   h  2b 3b hr  bi  sb
2008	Ogden	.331 .371 .801  60  251  45  83  13  3  2  27  18

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