By STEVE KRAH
Devin DeYoung saw his future when he was a teenager and it was as a baseball coach.
“I learned how to relate to people and to empower people just by interacting with them. They genuinely cared about every kid they worked with. I try to model how I approach the game after them.
A 2008 graduate of Lake Central High Schoolin St. John, Ind., DeYoung played catcher for head coach Todd Iwema. He went on to play two seasons at the College of Lake County in Graylake, Ill., and one at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn.
After that came a very brief stint as a player with the Rockland Boulders of the independent professional Can-Am League. He finished out the 2015 season with the Pomona, N.Y,-based team as a player-coach.
In 2016, DeYoung was a coach with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in the Northwoods League, a college collegiate circuit. He coached catchers, outfielders and hitters for a team that won both halves of a split season and the playoffs. More than a dozen players on that team went on to sign professional contracts.
“It’s best preparation for professional baseball there is,” says DeYoung. “We played 72 games in 75 games.”
There were no days off for the Wisconsin Rafters staff with the league’s all-star game, showcase and postseason. That meant a stretch of more than 80 days without time off.
In 2017 and 2018, DeYoung was bench coach/hitting coach with the Crestwood, Ill.-based Windy City Thunderbolts of the independent pro Frontier League. At the time, the league was predominantly a rookie league and has since consolidated with teams in the Can-Am League.
“It revives guy’s careers and helps them get back into or have their first shot at affiliated baseball,” says DeYoung of indy ball.
DeYoung has pro hitters coming from all over Chicagoland to hit with him at the Omni 41 and Morris Baseball facility in Schererville, Ind.
One of those hitters was Ryan Fitzgerald, who went to Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill., and played for the independent Gary SouthShore RailCats in 2017 and was signed by the Boston Red Sox and for the 2018 season.
DeYoung spent the 2019 campaign in the Red Sox system with the Greenville (S.C.) Drive.
As bench coach on a staff led by manager Iggy Suarez, DeYoung did many things. He coached first base and third base, instructed players on catching and base running and assisted Suarez, hitting coach Nelson Paulino and pitching coach Bob Kipper.
When Ryan Johansen became assistant hitting coordinator for the White Sox, he asked DeYoung to join the organization.
“The White Sox seem to be a really good fit for me,” says DeYoung. “They’re moving in a really good direction.
“It’s exciting to see the steps they’re talking and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
He will be a bench coach for Barons manager Justin Jirschele, who will be 29 when the Southern League season opens.
“I will aid in the work load and try to make everybody’s job easier,” says DeYoung. “I’ll collect data and just try to be the voice of reason.
“Genuinely caring about players. That’s how I go about player development.”
DeYoung is scheduled to report to spring training in Arizona Feb. 8. Before then, he will continue to teach lessons and clinics through Devin DeYoung Pro Baseball/Softball. But he’s carved out time to learn about players who may land in Birmingham in 2020 and for his family.
Devin and high school sweetheart Samantha DeYoung reside in St. John and have a daughter, Ella (7).
Much of what DeYoung knows about business came from working as a youngster at DeYoung Interiors of St. John, which was established in 1928.
“Every time I’m around them I seem to grow,” says DeYoung. “The people I’ve had the privilege of being around helps with my obsession with trying to learn more about the game.
“I have a desperate pursuit of making baseball easier for other players than it was for me.”
He has started to do Electromyography (EMG) testing, which measures muscular activity through the swing.
“It helps you quantify things you can’t see within the swing,” says DeYoung. “You get a baseline and create a player plan. You can see deficiencies in the swing or a movement assessment. We can eliminate some guessing.
“We can find out what these players are capable of doing physiologically. We’re really early in the process.”
Devin DeYoung (11) talks with Dustin Pedroia during a Greenville Drive game. DeYoung, a graduate of Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind., was a coach in the Boston Red Sox organization in 2019. (Greenville Drive Photo)
Devin DeYoung (11) talks with Jonathan Ortega during a Greenville Drive game. DeYoung, a graduate of Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind., was a coach in the Boston Red Sox organization in 2019. (Greenville Drive Photo)
Devin DeYoung (11) coaches third base in 2019 for the Greenville (S.C.) Drive in the Boston Red Sox organization. The team’s home park has its own Green Monster. DeYoung is a graduate of Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind. (Greenville Drive Photo)
Devin DeYoung (left) sees relationships as the key to player development. He was with the Boston Red Sox organization in 2019. The graduate of Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind., is now with the Chicago White Sox system. (Greenville Drive Photo)
Devin DeYoung, a graduate of Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind., has known he wanted to be a baseball coach since 13. Here he is in 2019 with the Greenville Drive in the Boston Red Sox organization. (Greenville Drive Photo)
Devin DeYoung swings the fungo bat as a coach for the Greenville (S.C.) Drive in the Boston Red Sox organization in 2019. The graduate of Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind., is now in the Chicgao White Sox system. (Greeenville Drive Photo)
Devin DeYoung, a 2008 graduate of Lake Central High School in St. John, Ind., knew at 13 and taking hitting lessons from John Maleee and Anthony Iapoce that his future was as a baseball coach. He was with the Greenville Drive in the Boston Red Sox system in 2019 and will be with the Birmingham Barons in the Chicago White Sox organization in 2020. (Greenville Drive Photo)