BURLINGTON, IA — Handling his business on the offensive side while being a reliable backstop for pitching staffs has never been a problem for veteran Oakland A’s minor leaguer Jordan Devencenzi. But staying healthy for long stretches of time has been another issue.
This season has been one of redemption for the 25-year-old catcher, who was originally drafted by the A’s in the 26th round of the 2015 draft. Not only has the former Nevada-Reno standout remained in the catching rotation all season, but he’s held his own with the bat as well.
“It’s going pretty well,” Devencenzi said. “I’ve always played a lot of games, I’ve just had a couple injuries and setbacks here and there. I’ve been healthy all season. It’s a pitcher-friendly league and a lot of younger, prospect guys are usually down here. Defensively, it’s pretty aggressive throughout the league.
“You’ve got to adjust behind the plate and work with the pitchers. I’ve worked with my pitching staff pretty well this year and they’ve trusted me a lot. Hitting-wise, I’ve tried to shorten things up and be more patient. That success has transferred into games.”
Injuries had limited Devencenzi to just 89 games in his first two full seasons of pro ball. He got in just 13 contests after signing with the A’s more than three years ago. A torn hamstring and a pair of thumb contusions were the main culprits for Devencenzi’s development being halted.
Even with his injury woes, Devencenzi has been a very productive player with the bat. He slashed .281/.352/.333 over a short period during his first full professional season in 2016, and then followed that up .276/.367/.324 line as the primary catcher at Vermont last summer.
Despite splitting time with fellow catcher Skyler Weber, Devencenzi has managed to play 60 games in 2018 and post a slash line of .281/.353/.352.
“It’s mostly just staying healthy throughout the year and watching my body to make sure everything is good to go each day,” he said. “I’m taking it game by game. Hitting-wise, I’ve made a few tweaks here and there but nothing major.”
“You start to learn your weaknesses real soon when you struggle. You take those to the cage and get those stronger. You get those stronger and adjust in the games. That gives them a harder task to find out a new adjustment for you. I’ve tackled that pretty simple with my hitting coach. It’s really worked this year.”
While other hitters take a while to get going in the confines of the Midwest League, Devencenzi needed little time re-introducing himself to opposing pitchers. Returning to the place he played in 38 games back in 2016, he opened this spring with 15 hits in his first 34 at-bats in the month of April. Devencenzi followed that up with a .300/.338/.443 slash line in 18 May games.
“It’s always nice to get on hot streaks (in the batters box),” he said. “I just try to stick to my routines daily and really work day by day. Every time I’m in the lineup, I try to be really consistent and do everything I can to win a ballgame.
“I do have a little bit of an advantage in knowing this league being here two years ago. Everything got familiar right away coming here. I didn’t have much to expect of new differences. I’ve played my game and it’s taken me this far.”
With a healthy close to the 2018 season and continued solid performance with the bat, Devencenzi could finally put himself in position to make the climb to High-A ball.
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