Prospect Profile: Joey Devine
Name: Joey Devine
Joey Devine was drafted in the first round of last year's draft by Atlanta (27th overall). Joey played 3 years in college as the closer for NC State University. He was dominant in college and it was expected that it would not take long for him to make it to the majors. Atlanta strayed from their tendency to pick high school pitchers when they selected Joey with their first pick in 2005. They couldn't pass up an opportunity for some quick help for their struggling bullpen which is what they hoped for in Devine. Devine looked "as advertised" as he breezed through the minors on his way to Atlanta late in the 2005 season. Devine was striking out plenty of people in the minors, but upon closer inspection, the Braves should have been a little concerned with Joey's walks. He walked 16 in 23 innings during his minor league cup of coffee. Once in the majors, this lack of command hurt Joey a lot. He walked 5 in his 5 innings at the major league level. Not only did the walks hurt him but his lack of command lead to him giving up grand slams in each of his first two appearances.
Joey came back from his rehab in Florida to finish up the 2006 season in Myrtle Beach and Mississippi. He started at the Beach and struggled mightily at first, but he eventually settled down enough to earn a promotion to Mississippi. He stuck out 28 guys in 18 innings at Myrtle Beach but he walked 11 and threw 4 wild pitches. Mississippi was completely different though. In 11 innings, Devine struck out 20 and walked only 4 while allowing only 2 hits and 1 run. He really looked like he had put it together. The Braves would be wise to continue to bring him along slowly in 2007.
If Joey Devine can pull himself together, he projects as the closer of the future for the Atlanta Braves. He has been bad early but it is still very early in Joey's pro career. In order for him to be a big league closer, he must do two things. He must improve his command. Without command he is just another hard throwing reliever who can't located his good stuff. Second, he must regain his confidence. Joey's confidence has to be shaken after last year, but Joey has to be mentally tough if he wants to be a big league closer. If he can regain his confidence, it will speak well for his ability to deal with the pressure of closing in the majors.