Nova Southeastern University in Florida will probably never be compared to Texas University or Southern Cal as far as producing professional baseball players no matter how hard they try. But when Gordon was drafted in the fourth round he was nearly as unknown as they schools he attended.
However, the Dodgers' Assistant General Manager Logan White 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."
The Dodgers were tipped off by his father, former Major League pitcher Tom Gordon who just happened to be a roommate of Dodger farm director De Jon Watson with the Kansas City Royals.
. Devaris, called "Dee" by his teammates, is a speedy, switch-hitting shortstop who is a pure athlete who can eat up 60 years in 6.3 seconds and can dunk a basketball despite being only 5-11. He is much smoother than one would suspect for a young man that didn't start playing baseball until his senior year in high school.
The Dodgers announced him as their No.4 selection, drawing a nearly universal "Who's he?" The Dodgers just smile, cut a check for $250,000 and tucked the young man away in their farm system.
White said, "If he wasn't the fastest guy in the draft, I don't know who was. The guy ran a 6.3 60 and automatically became the fastest player in the Dodgers' organization, including Juan Pierre, the moment he signed.
"Now he won't steal bases right away," White continued. "But I've got to believe he certainly will in the future." Devaris bore fruit a bit quicker than expected. He pilfered 18 bases his rookie season and then exploded for 73 at Great Lakes in 2009.
The young man will be 21 in 2010 and hit a sizzling .331, third on a talent-laden Ogden team in 2008 and .301 with Great Lakes and showed his blazing speed with 12 triples and 73 stolen bases in his first taste of a full professional season.
"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."
Although he has plus range to both his right and left, a strong arm and he look of a shortstop.
"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."
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."
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.
"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."
Devaris will probably move up to Inland Empire in 2010.
SS Devaris Strange-Gordon
5-11 150 Bl Tr
Born- April 22, 1988.
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 2009 GLakes .301 .362 .756 131 528 96 162 17 12 3 35 73 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Totals .311 .365 .771 191 789 145 245 30 15 5 62 91
We would like to again thank Jared Massy, Evan Chavez, Nick Eustrom, Brandon Lennox and Yadja and Bob Bacher for their much-appreciated help in compiling this list. Each had a different slant on the top 40 and when I set up my list, their thoughts were extremely valuable. If there is any criticism of the final results, be advised that these gentlemen are not at fault, all the blame lies with me.