Devaney Develops His Game

Right-hander Michael Devaney comes off a strong season at St. Lucie and Binghamton with his sights set on a healthy, productive season. As the Mets' 2006 Sterling Award winner for the system's best pitcher, he enters camp with lofty expectations both personal and from within the organization. Tuesday, Inside Pitch Magazine caught with the Mets' rising star.

Young, top prospects can crumble under the weight of potential and the fulfillment of that potential. After posting a combined 12-5 record at both levels in 2006, Michael Devaney looks to expand upon what has been a budding career. He is primed for a strong season with a focus on his repertoire and his future.

Currently, he works with coaches and trainers, in a new regiment, to recuperate from a sore shoulder and sore back that hamper this spring's progress. However, despite last season's success, he refuses to let the slowdown frustrate him.

"Last year I came with the catchers and got right in here and threw bullpens. The difference this year has been strengthening my shoulder and back and building endurance. Before I just got ready to throw for the year," he said. "Thanks to the work I've done so far, I feel really good and stronger than I did this time last year."

Devaney, admittedly a week to 10 ten days behind his teammates, continues to throw batting practice while he watches teammates throw live game action. Although he anticipates pitching in games, he maximizes his time now as he matures his repertoire. He has moved away from his four-seam fastball in favor of a cutter which has helped develop him into a better-rounded pitcher.

"My cutter is doing great. It's a better feel for me than the four-seam, it's a natural grip. A straight 4-seamer is really awkward for me, the grip just doesn't feel right," he said, "The cutter feels so natural that I really don't even have to do much to make it cut. I just grab it and it cuts. I pitched really well behind in the counts and I thank the cutter.

After little success with his slider in Hagerstown in 2005, Devaney scrapped the pitch in favor of a changeup which he believes will offer more consistency as he advances through the system. With a growing cutter and a plus-curveball – which he routinely threw for strikes last season – in his hip pocket, the right-hander wants his changeup available to keep hitters guessing and distinguish his game.

"The changeup I think this year is going to be a difference maker towards the type of pitcher that I want to be. Last year, I saw myself as a 2 pitch pitcher. Fastball. Curveball," he said, "I can't wait to use it in action. It will take a lot of stress off the curveball because I used (my curveball) quite a bit in my first two-and-a-half years. I'd like to make it up with three pitches".

As he establishes his cutter and changeup, Devaney will evolve into the versatile pitcher that he foresees. There were times last season he would be on the mound with command of only his curveball. Due to his natural talent, he was able to find success in an empty barrel. When and only when he harnesses the trio of pitches, will he will kick the doors of Shea Stadium.

For now, Devaney has the time and support as he increases his stamina and the effectiveness of his pitches. At 24 years old, he has an open road to the big stage. Ready for the challenge, Devaney keeps his head even on his shoulders.

"I have to take the good and the bad and work hard through both. I may have a good ERA and win a lot of games, but the focus has to stay there and get the weaker pitches better and not rely only on pitches I throw well" he closed.

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