Devin Shepherd: A Five-Tool Player

Devin Shepherd: A Five-Tool Player

Dustin Mattison interviews St. Louis Cardinals Gulf Coast League outfielder Devin Shepherd.

The St. Louis Cardinals selected Devin Shepherd in the 11th round of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft.  A native of California, Shepherd is an athletic five-tool talent that possessed a big league body in high school.

 

A highly-touted prep player, the then soon-to-be senior was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 AFLAC All-American Game.  Shepherd paced the victors, reaching base four times with two singles and two walks.  He drove in a run and scored twice.  Among others who played in the game were highly-drafted prospects Brett Anderson, Billy Rowell, and Kyle Drabek.

 

Even prior to then, Shepherd stood out. During the 2005 Cape Cod High School Classic, Devin outslugged Twins' first round pick Chris Parmelee to win the game's home run derby championship.  He was also named a 2006 Playstation All-American after posting a career .485 slugging percentage in high school.

 

After his illustrious prep career, the Minnesota Twins drafted Shepherd in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft.  The 6-foot-4 outfielder did not come to terms with the Twins and would take his game to the college level.

 

Enrolling at the University of Oklahoma as the number 11 freshman prospect according to Baseball America, Shepherd struggled, hitting only .235/.348/.287 with one home run in 115 at-bats.  That would be all to his OU career as the team granted him his release in May of 2007.

 

The Californian would enroll in the College of Southern Nevada for the 2008 junior college season.  Shepherd will be the first to admit that his season in the desert was a disappointment.  In 140 at bats, he hit .343/.453/.429 with only one home run and 25 RBIs.  After his season at CSN, Oregon State looked to be his next stop in his college career.  Instead, Shepherd decided to move closer to home and attend the University of California-Santa Barbara.  Well, that was before the Cardinals stepped in.

 

After Shepherd signed with the Cardinals, the organization assigned him to the Gulf Coast League, where he has yet to find his power stroke.  For the struggling GCL team, the 20-year-old is hitting .266/.343/.330 in 94 at bats.

 

A common theme among the scouting reports I have read on Shepherd are remarks about his character, a young man with an outstanding personality and a contagious smile.

 

I had a chance to catch up with Shepherd to talk about his love of baseball, professional coaching and the Florida heat. 

 

 

Dustin Mattison: Tell us about Devin Shepherd the baseball player.

 

Devin Shepard: Well, I've got all five tools but I'm still learning how to put them all in the same box at the same time. I've been playing the game since I was four years old when I first learned to play on the CBC Naval base in Port Hueneme, CA.

 

I pray every day and night that God will bless me with a career in baseball that will follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest. I try to play the game hard every time I take the field because it doesn't take ability to hustle and you never know if it will be someone's first time or last time watching you play.


DM: What players did you follow when you were growing up? 

 

DS: When I was 12 years old up until I was 14, I tried to imitate Mark McGwire but then after that I grew into my own swing. I'm a huge Manny Ramirez fan and Derek Jeter fan.

 

DM: To what player do you compare your game?

 

DS: The player I would compare my game to would have to be a mix between Derek Jeter and Jermaine Dye.

 

DM: I know you are from Southern California; what team did you root for?

 

DS: Even being from SoCal, I wasn't a real big team guy. I just really enjoyed watching all the big league games. I followed the Braves because I liked watching Chipper Jones but I don't think I had a favorite.

DM: In 2006 you were drafted in the fifth round by Minnesota. What were the negotiations like with the Twins?  Did that experience make it easier when the Cardinals selected you?

 

DS: With the Twins it was a fun and interesting experience. I remember I was very disappointed on draft day but I didn't really understand how lucky I really was. This time around, I had an idea of where I would go because of the type of season I had. I think a few teams knew I really wanted to sign so that helped me go a little higher in the draft.

 

DM: Tell me about draft day 2008.  Were you picked about where you expected?  When did the Cardinals first come into contact with you? 

 

DS: On draft day I wasn't expecting anything special. I didn't have a good season and I felt teams where afraid I wanted too much (to sign). I spoke to a scout within the organization the night before the draft and they said based on the pre-draft workout I had with the club that they had a very strong interest.

 

DM: What did you know about the Cardinals organization before they drafted you?

 

DS: I played for the Cardinals scout team coached by former Cardinals' cross checker Chuck Fick all through high school, so I was very familiar with the Cardinals.

 

DM: How close were you to choosing Oregon State over turning pro?

 

DS: I was signed to go to Oregon State in November but asked for a release to UC-Santa Barbara to be closer to my family. But it was a tough choice because I had the opportunity to play close to home for my Mom one last year or go and start my career. My Mom helped guide me to the decision that brings me to the Cardinals.


DM: You were MVP of the AFLAC High School All-American Game. What was the experience?

 

DS: It was a wonderful experience that you wish you could repeat over and over again. Being around so many great players and being able to act like big league All-Star for just a few days was a crazy feeling. And the event was set up and put on first class all the way.


DM: How did going to Southern Nevada help your development as a player? 

 

DS: Making the change to CSN helped mature me for a professional style of baseball, on and off the field. Our Junior College conference was spread out from Vegas to Colorado so we would bus up to 12 hours every other week, something I definitely was not used to. The coaching staff really took a family approach to the way the program is run. We fought like family and celebrated like family and it taught me how to grow up. And it doesn't hurt to do that in one of the top college programs in the country.  

 

DM: How does the East Coast of Florida compare to the West Coast of California?

 

DS: To be honest my friends and family would call me a liar if I said anything different, but they don't compare at all. But seriously Jupiter is a great place to be for spring training. The city is great, the malls are great, and you have an ocean close by. The only thing I wish is that Florida was in a bubble because it is so hot.  


DM: Who on the team do you hang out with? 

 

DS: I hang out the most with teammates Chris Notti, Adam Prange, Mike Swinson and Anthony Ferrara because we are all neighbors in the hotel. Miguel Flores was with us, too, but he was called up last week so that was half the fun gone right there.


DM: How is the professional coaching different than the college coaching you received?

 

DS: The professional coaching is a lot more laid back. Everyday is like a progression and we come to work with a plan to continue to improve one day at a time with a relaxed professional outlook. The seasons are so long that our manager and coaches teach us that you have to enjoy the moments, work hard but realize the seasons are long so you can't burn your battery out in week one.


DM: What are your off-season plans?

 

DS: Well, hopefully I will be invited to instructional league for a month during the off season.  Other than that I will be on a strict diet and workout plan to help me prepare my body for my first full 100-plus game season.

 

DM: What do Cardinals fans need to know about you that they probably don't already know? 

 

DS: I'm a good kid; I love the game of baseball with all my heart. I want to be one of the greatest players to ever put on a Cardinals uniform. I am truly blessed to be in professional baseball with an organization like the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

I thank Devin for taking the time to do this interview.  He seems like a genuine guy and a player I feel Cardinals fans will get excited about in the coming years.

 

 

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

 

© 2008 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

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