2022 Vancouver Canadians pitcher Devereaux Harrison takes the ball in this episode of C’s Chat.
The Toronto Blue Jays selected the 6-foot-0, 190-pound Henderson in the ninth round of the 2022 MLB Draft out of Long Beach State. The Vallejo, California-born righthander made it to campus after excelling as a two-way player at Vacaville High School. A participant at the 2018 Area Code Games, Harrison batted .390 as the Bulldogs center fielder in his senior season in 2019 and recorded an earned run average of 0.71 by striking out 60 batters in 39-1/3 innings.
Harrison’s freshman season with Long Beach State in 2020 was cut short due to COVID but he led the team in relief innings pitched with 13-2/3 innings in which he struck out 18 batters against six walks, resulting in a 1.32 ERA.
Granted an extra season of eligibility as a result of COVID, Harrison won three of four decisions with a Big West Conference-leading 10 saves in 2021. He posted a 1.57 ERA and 0.99 WHIP after whiffing 42 batters in 34-2/3 innings. That earned Harrison numerous plaudits including Baseball America Freshman All-American honours and the Big West Conference Freshman Pitcher of the Year. The season was not over yet for Harrison as he got a brief taste of summer college ball by pitching 3-2/3 innings for the Wareham Gateman of the Cape Cod League, He also had the chance to represent his country as he landed a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. Harrison gave up just one run over five innings and struck out seven in four appearances with the CNT.
Baseball America tabbed Harrison as the third-best draft prospect in the Big West Conference coming into the 2022 season but he had his struggles with the Dirtbags. His ERA was over four runs higher than his 2021 total but he won five of six decisions and saved five games after striking out 32 batters in 33-1/3 innings. Harrison did make some contributions with the bat this past year. After getting a combined five at-bats over his first two seasons at Long Beach State, Harrison received 28 ABs and got five hits in 2022, including a pair of doubles. He also swung the bat during his time on the Cape in 2021 and picked up a single and two walks in 10 official trips to the plate.
Harrison’s future is on the mound and this was how he was seen by Baseball America prior to the draft.
“Harrison flashes potent stuff but is inconsistent. At his best, he sits 94-96 mph on his fastball with late carry through the strike zone, flashes an average changeup that gets swings and misses and shows a good feel for landing his slider for strikes. At others, he drops to 90-91 mph and can’t command his slider at all, giving him only his changeup to work with. Harrison is a good athlete but tends to spin out of his delivery, leading to bouts of inconsistent control. He is a fiery competitor who stands up for his teammates. Harrison has a chance to be a solid middle reliever in pro ball, but only if he can more consistently pitch with his best stuff.”
Blue Jays scouts Joey Aversa and Bud Smith felt Harrison was worthy of a draft selection and team brass agreed as Harrison received a signing bonus of $122,500.
C’s Plus Baseball had a chance to speak to the 21 year-old Harrison—who celebrated reaching the legal drinking age on November 8—during the Canadians final regular season homestand of 2022. This interview has been edited for clarity.
C’s Plus Baseball – Let’s start with the draft. What was your draft experience like?
Devereaux Harrison – Oh man, everyone’s draft experience is different obviously. I mean, being drafted is an honour and it’s awesome no matter what round, as long as you get a chance. It was definitely stressful hanging out with the family because you never know where you’re going to go, what team you’re going to go to. It was stressful but that one moment was a lot. It’s definitely the best moment of my life so far.
CPB – Was it a huge party that you had?
DH – Yeah, I was just with my fam – my Mom, my Dad, my best friend and my girlfriend. It was just us during the draft and then once I got drafted, we all went out and with my uncles and cousins and stuff and partied a little bit.
CPB – Did you have any idea that the Blue Jays were going to take you?
DH – Before the season started last year, the college season, I talked to two of the scouts down in Southern California and that was one of the last times I talked to them. And then after the season, I talked to one of them a little bit and then that was it. So I wasn’t really expecting to be drafted by the Blue Jays but I love this organization. So far, it has been awesome. All the experience out here is awesome. All the fans and just what they do like at the PDC and Dunedin and stuff.
CPB – The Player Development Complex. There are lots of bells and whistles, lots of toys and all that. What did you think of the complex when you first walked in?
DH – I heard from previous friends who’ve been through the Blue Jays that the complex is not the nicest place. Then I got there and they redid it. My expectations were low because of what I heard and then I got there and I was just blown away. I mean, it was beautiful. They have everything a baseball player needs there and it was awesome. All the people working there, the staff, the players who were rehabbing, it was just a great culture and a great atmosphere all the time.
CPB – Was there anything specific maybe you learned about yourself (at the Complex)?
DH – I’m not big into like the metrics. I just grew up competing, you know. I’m not the biggest, not the strongest, don’t throw the hardest but I just go out there and can, I don’t care about if their best hitter hits sliders, I’m going to throw it with my best stuff. He has to hit my best pitch. I never really looked into analytics or metrics. It’s my best versus their best and I’m not going to change who I am because their best is something like hitting a slider. My best and my fastball. I’m going to throw my best. That’s how I play the game and pitch.
CPB – So you’re a fastball, slider, pitcher, is that it?
DH – Fastball, slider and changeup. I throw my change up quite a bit. I just learned a new slider so we’re playing around with it a little bit.
CPB – Your fastball is a four-seam, two-seam or both?
DH – Just straight four-seam.
CPB – The slider. You say you’re learning a new grip. How’s that coming along?
DH – Just a sweeper I guess. A lot of people in the Blue Jays organization have gone to sweepers so I learned that at the PDC throwing my first couple of bullpens after the draft. So I’ve just been working on that and trying to dial that in.
CPB – The change up. Split change or circle change?
DH – Circle change. Keep it regular, a circle change. My hands aren’t big enough to throw a split change so I just throw a circle change.
CPB – Describe yourself as a pitcher if you had to give a scouting report on yourself?
DH – I love to compete. I love to be in big situations when the game’s on the line. I want the ball, I want the ball in my hand. I’m not afraid. Will attack, will attack, will attack and that’s just who I am. That’s how I’ve been my whole life and everything. So I’m never afraid and just going give my best the whole time and compete and attack.
CPB – You get down to Dunedin after you’re drafted. What was that like for you?
DH – We did the two-week draft camp at the PDC which was fun. Learning everything about the Blue Jays, the Blue Jays ways and stuff like that but obviously we all wanted to go compete already once we got to Dunedin. It was fun. It was fun being able to compete again, play games and just meet a lot of guys. There were a lot of Latins there that hardly speak any English and I don’t speak hardly any Spanish so it’s like just learning (about) other people, seeing their backgrounds, where they’ve come from, how they do certain things. So it was awesome. It was definitely awesome.
CPB – You get your first pro experience under your belt in Dunedin. When did you find out you were going to Vancouver?
DH – Found out Sunday (August 28), we were in Bradenton. So after the game, unfortunately we lost that game, the coaches had me going in the office and they just told me I’m on an early flight tomorrow to Spokane because that’s where we were so that’s how it was. I found out and then it was go home, pack the bags, go to sleep and hop on a flight first thing in the morning.
CPB – Where did you have to go to get to Spokane? You had to take a connecting flight somewhere along the way?
DH – Yeah. It’s nice how Michael Turconi came up with me. So me and him were on the flight together. So we flew from Tampa to Seattle and then Seattle to Spokane. So we passed Spokane and then we flew back (laughs). So it wasn’t a bad day at all. We got into Spokane around 5:00 p.m. We left at like 11:00 am in Tampa so it wasn’t a bad day at all.
CPB – You got your feet wet at Avista Stadium in Spokane. They get some big crowds there as well. Was that like pitching in that atmosphere?
DH – It was awesome. Defintely a bigger jump from Low-A to High-A with the hitters. These hitters, most of them are a lot older as well and have had thousands of at-bats in professional ball under their belts already. It was different but it was awesome. It was good. You learn stuff about at each level, like Low-A was way more competitive than college or like way more better at-bats than college and it’s like here, it’s going to be better. So I’m just looking forward to getting better here and then keep going up and just competing. Like I said, I like to play against the best. It’s fun.
CPB – You got to pitch at Nat Bailey Stadium and what a memorable debut as you got the final three outs in the (playoff) clincher. What was that like?
DH – It was awesome. The fans were crazy. I mean, we all knew that we win this game, we clinch and play these guys for another week. But it was definitely a cool, cool experience. It was loud. Haven’t heard (fans) that loud at a stadium since opening weekend this year when we opened up at Mississippi State but it was awesome.
CPB – Pitching with the pitch clock. What is that like?
DH – College has gone to that. I’m a quick guy anyways. I like to get the ball and go quick-tempo so the pitch clock doesn’t bother me at all. I never had to change anything even in college. I never had to do anything different. So now if I was just a guy who liked to take a breath in between, it would be difficult but luckily I’m not that guy. (laughs).
CPB – When you were in Dunedi, you have the automated ball strike zone. Did you have to deal with that?
DH – It was definitely weird just because you paint a pitch on the corner that in college you could get strikes for. You didn’t get any of that so you had to throw it over the heart of the plate. Most of the time it’s an easy adjustment. It was really easy to keep pounding the zone over the strike zone and so it wasn’t a big adjustment at all.
CPB – You were at Long Beach State, Troy Tulowitzki was among the alumni there. What was your college experience like when you look back on it?
DH – I went and wouldn’t change a thing. Long Beach State was awesome. We got a lot of guys, like you said, Tulowitzki, Jered Weaver, Evan Longoria Tula Winky, we have a lot of alumni, we have a lot of good players there. We’re not a big school where we’re on the map. We’re not a Power five (conference school), we’re a mid-major but I learned a lot there. I mean at Long Beach State we just competed. We were all about my height and we just went out there and attacked and wasn’t afraid of anything. That’s why I went to Long Beach because our name is the Dirtbags. That just fits with who I am and how I play. It’s the Dirtbag Way, which is like the first guy on the field, sliding in hard, making plays, getting hit by pitches and stuff like that. College was awesome. I didn’t get to go experience Omaha or the postseason or anything. And my freshman year, COVID kind of screwed up a really good team that we had. We had about three or four guys drafted that year so we lost them. I played about two seasons. I was there for three years. Played about two seasons because of COVID but it was awesome. The coaches there are awesome, the player, awesome fans. Everything about it was awesome. If I could go back to school and say if someone was to ask me, I would pick Long Beach State again.
CPB – You had a chance to represent your country as you were chosen to pitch for the US College National Team in 2021? What was that like?
DH – It was the greatest experience of my life. It was something everyone dreams of doing and to be able to do it with the best college baseball players was more of an honour! Baseball has brought me a lot of great experiences but to be able to put the USA jersey on and just listen to the National Anthem with that jersey was by far the best experience.
CPB – When did you first become a pitcher?
DH – I first became a pitcher late (in my) junior year of high school so I’m fairly new to pitching. I’ve always two-wayed, I two-wayed in college so I’m excited just to be pitching now. I get to play golf actually and not worry about a swing. This is my first time just pitching ever on a team, just pitching so I’m really excited about that. And because usually, I was focusing on hitting and then pitching. So now I get to slim everything down and just focus on my pitching right now. I mean, it’s good. It feels weird obviously like watching BP and stuff and you want to still be doing it. Like I said, I’m a guy who wants to be in the situation, a big situation up at bat. It sucks but the body feels good, you know. Two-waying in college, it’s a toll on the body and tears it apart doing all that extra stuff.
CPB – Did you have a favorite major league team or player growing up?
DH – The Yankees were my team. I’m from California and don’t ask me how. My older brother was a Yankee fan so that made me a Yankee fan. My favourite player was Derek Jeter. I mean he played the game how it was supposed to be played so Derek Jeter for sure. And I was a shortstop growing up so it was definitely Derek Jeter by a long shot.
- Uniform Numbers – Wore number 31 at Long Beach State and number 5 with Dunedin.
- Instagram – @devereauxharrison3
- Twitter – @devharrison3
- Family Connection – Younger brother Griffin Harrison is an infielder at Sacramento State.
- MLB Connection – Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin also attended Vacaville High School.
Thanks a million again to Devereaux Harrison for the latest C’s Chat which was arranged once again by play-by-play announcer Tyler Zickel.