The unpredictability of talent identification and development

Chris Devenski is a reliever for the Houston Astros. He has been one of the best relievers this season on the best team in baseball.

Devenski, nicknamed “The Dragon” by his manager in Double-A….has followed an unlikely path to his current status as one of Major League Baseball’s best bullpen weapons. The right-hander was a 25th-round pick by the White Sox back in 2011 before being dealt to Houston as a player to be named later in the 2012 trade that sent right-hander Brett Myers to Chicago. Devenski wasn’t protected from the Rule 5 Draft by the Astros following a solid-but-not-dominant 2015 season in Double-A, which Luhnow describes to Rosenthal as “a bad decision with an OK outcome.” Luhnow concedes that Houston took “too much of a risk” in leaving Devenski unprotected, though he’s surely thankful for how it worked out. In 131 1/3 MLB innings since Opening Day 2016, Devenski has a 2.12 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 (via

Three times, Devenski was overlooked or ignored. Every team had multiple opportunities to acquire him, in the draft and when he was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft.

Sometimes everyone misevaluates a player; sometimes, a player develops into a player that nobody could have foreseen. Sometimes, a team gets lucky. That is a part of sports success, as there are too many factors involved in success to predict every one accurately.

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice and Fake Fundamentals

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