Among the new entrants on the Angels Top 30 prospects list is Bahamian speedster Trent Deveaux at #17. Signed by Billy Eppler in the summer of 2017, he wrapped up his first professional season last year and gave me a call from Tempe after a day of workouts.
Blessed with 80 grade speed and an intense competitive edge, Trent’s baseball future could be quite bright. The journey he’s taken to get to this point has been nothing short of incredible. You can follow that journey on his Instagram account, @tdeveaux4.
Trent and his good friend D’Shawn Knowles (rated 10th) are trailblazers, the first wave of talent scouted and signed from the Bahamas. Trent shared his story, his current focus, and his dreams with me while D’Shawn was in the background adding a few laughs and occasional commentary of his own.
Here is the transcript of that call:
You are already out in Phoenix. Has minor league camp started or are you just getting an early start?
“I’ve been here from January. The team loves to keep me here so I can get in extra reps. So I’ve been working out with the big league guys, legit guys, but I don’t play in the games.”
Before we get to the present, let’s talk about how you got here. You are from the Bahamas, the sport is growing there, how old were you when you started playing baseball?
“I was six. I was six years old when I started playing baseball.
Which is so crazy, because I just had like a flashback to when I started playing because me and Pujols were just in the same lineup, what was it two days ago, and I was like ‘yo, this is so crazy.’
Just watching this guy. I was watching this guy when I was a child, looking up to him, like crazy, wearing his jersey. Now I’m in the same lineup as him, taking BP live with Justin Upton and its just like ‘whoa.’
A little overwhelming or just an incredibly happy experience?
“Nah, its happy. Now I gotta try to out do them. I don’t like people to beat me.”
So you started playing when you were six years old. Did your high school have a team or is it all travel ball and showcases in the Bahamas?
“No, none of the high schools have baseball. Well, the government schools they got it later on but none of the private schools had baseball. They did softball. But the competitive level was not there in the Bahamas. We just all played for fun, pretty much.
And then they made a baseball academy and they asked me to join. Then we got a few guys, me, D’shawn, there was a bunch of us, and we joined the academy and we were home schooled through the home schooling program then we trained for half the day. So half day school and half day training and that’s how we got to be able to raise our level of game.
Cool, so did the Angels scout you at the academy? Is that where they found you?
“No, I left that academy when I was 13 and I went to Elev8 Baseball Academy in Florida. I went there for a year. I was still home schooled and I would just go over there to train because I made up my mind that I wanted to go pro.
I knew that the traditional way was not going to work for me and I would need to seek to be on the train. So I played travel ball and stuff and I moved to the Dominican Republic for a year and that’s when the Angels found me, when I was down in the Dominican Republic..”
So at 13 years old you knew you wanted to be a pro baseball player and you took that drastic of a step to make it happen? That’s pretty incredible
“I knew I was going to be a Major League player when I was 11. I made a YouTube video when I was younger and in the video I said ‘I’m going to be a Major League baseball player.’ Its a funny video, everyone teases me about it.”
That’s amazing. And I heard you picked up quite a bit of Spanish in the Dominican Republic?
“Yeah, I became fluent in Spanish because none of my coaches spoke English. Nobody spoke English but my agent, who owned the academy. He spoke spoke English and Spanish so he would, kind of, at least the first few days help me and then I just kept it up on my own, just asking questions around the atmosphere.”
You were 15 years old, in the Dominican, having to learn a brand new language?
“I was 16. Because I was at Elev8 and then I moved to the DR. Yeah, when I was 16.”
That’s pretty incredible. We’re going to have to make a movie about this some day.
So you leave the Bahamas at 13, you go to Florida. You leave Florida, you go to the Dominican Republic. From the Dominican Republic the Angels sign you and your friend D’Shawn, who you’ve know from your days back in the Bahamas. Did you guys know that you were both being scouted and signed by the same team?
“No, it was a complete surprise because we get verbal agreements on the international side. So its not like the draft day where you can wait for the day to find out who your team is.
So I knew I was going to be with the Angels from January and they gave him his verbal agreement in February and we text each other and it was like....hold on. D’Shawn’s right here.
[chatter between him and D’shawn, between the two they conclude D’shawn was signed about a month later]
Yeah, he had a showcase and he called me up on FaceTime and he told me.”
That’s awesome. So he’s there with you, he’s your roommate in Arizona?
“Yeah, yeah. We’re always roommates. He just walked into the kitchen.
When I found out he was with the Angels, I was just so happy since he was on the same team as me and we were so close when we were young.”
And you got to be teammates again in the Arizona League last year, right?
“Yes, and then he went up to Orem and I stayed here and played the Arizona League.”
Who would win in a race between you two from home plate to first?
“[huge laughter from Trent] Me.”
D’Shawn in the background “No you wouldn’t”
[Big laughter from both guys]
From home plate to the foul pole?
[both laugh again] “We just both have that competitive nature. I’ll never admit to him beating me and he’d never admit to me beating him.
If you could ask, they’ll tell you I’d beat him.”
That’s what I figured. Do you know that your scouting grade for speed is literally the highest grade that can be given?
“Yeah. That’s cool. I better have that [laughs]. I’d be mad if I had anything less.”
You’re one of those guys who is just hyper competitive at everything you do, right Trent? Like if you go play pool or foosball, or whatever, you got to win?
“Exactly. I got to win. I’m going to try my best. Will not give up, I tell ya.”
What do you guys compete in at home? Are you playing video games, dominoes? I know when you guys get home the competition doesn’t end so what’s the current competition in the house?
“Oh, we love all of those. I love dominoes. I beat him in dominoes.
We go back and forth, it’s crazy, just slamming the dominoes down on the table ‘domino!’ Its fun, its so much fun.
We work out together. When we’re home, he comes over, sometimes he sleeps by me. We go out together, eat together, we almost do everything together, pretty much.”
Nice. You guys are more like brothers than like teammates, then.
“Yeah. That’s how its always been.”
That’s awesome. I’m really happy that you guys both ended up with the Angels.
The Bahamas are supposed to be baseball’s next frontier. And you guys are really the first wave from the Bahamas. Are people and newspapers back home following you closely?
“They are. We were just in the newspaper again with the new prospects lists.
People see it as a new way out and no one in the Bahamas used to think being a pro in baseball was possible and now they’re seeing its possible. And its a new way out and it has the whole nation going and its really excited.
When we go back home, that’s always crazy. We get a lot of media following in the Bahamas for it. Its almost like since we don’t have any pro baseball players, pro athletes really, so much because it is a really small home country, really small island, like about 300,000 total people in the whole country, it is like everyone knows everybody and we’re kind of like celebrities back home.”
How often are you able to make it back home?
“Just whenever I have a break. Whenever the camps are done. I like get a few, some time off, I go back home and we have a ball.”
And now that you’re here and working on baseball, let’s talk about baseball. You mentioned that there’s not a high level of competition in the Bahamas. You come stateside. Do the pitchers throw harder? How did you find the level of play here compared to what you had faced previously?
“There’s no comparison. In the Bahamas you might find a guy that throws in the mid 80s. Maybe. Mid 80, high 80, that’s rare. Everyone just throws really soft, really.
Its because no one took baseball seriously at all. No one develops pitchers. We don’t develop pitchers, everybody wants to hit.”
What do the Angels have you working on now? Are you adjusting your stance or a timing mechanism? What is your emphasis at the moment?
“I don’t know if you saw it but if you look it up on YouTube you’ll see they have me doing drills in the cage while I hit because I needed to work on my swing and tweak things.
So in January, it was just throw away the first year I had because I knew I had things to work on and they said would I rather struggle in the minor leagues or struggle in the major leagues. Because that’s the term, we’re not trying to develop good minor league players, we’re developing Major League players and Major League swings. So they don’t really care about what we do on the stats and stuff right now for a minor league season.
But now that we’ve kind of passed that hurdle, and my swing’s much better now, I’m pretty sure that this season is going to be my big season. I am very confident going into this season that it will be great because now I just need to keep those little checkpoints that we look for in the swing and make sure my swing doesn’t start to get into my old habits and keep a consistent, good swing and that’s all.”
So to work on that you’ve been in Arizona for a couple of months already and will stay there through the end of minor league camp which closes some time in early April, right?
Do you know if you’re going to Orem or Burlington yet?
“No, I do not know. I’m pretty sure it depends on how I do in Spring Training but I think I’m going to Burlington because I have no doubt about me performing in Spring Training.”
There’s one other question that we ask of everybody. Have you had the opportunity to eat at In-N-Out Burger yet?
“[laughs] No. Well, kind of. I can’t say if I remember. I have had it before, but I haven’t had it recently.
Have you eaten at Five Guys with Fries?
“Yeah, I’ve eaten at Five Guys.”
Ok. Which one is better, In-N-Out Burger or Five Guys?
“[big laughter] Its so funny, they just asked me that question in the van. I have to go with Five Guys.”
They just asked you this question where?
“On the van ride back to the apartment. A whole conversation about it. D’Shawn said Five Guys and everyone in the van was like ‘no, In-N-Out, you’re crazy.’
I have to go Five Guys. I like a nice big, juicy burger.”
I’ve held you for plenty of time. I greatly appreciate it. Is there anything else you’d like to say, or would you like to go about your day?
“Nah, man. I’m good.”
Perfect. I’ll be out in Tempe soon and hopefully I’ll get to meet you while I’m out there.
“Awesome. I’m on the back fields.
Thank you so much, just look for the blonde hair, I’m the only one. Well, me and Jordyn.”
Yeah. I’ll just look for the really, really fast guys.
“[laughs] Alright, yeah, [laughs]”
Speaking of fast, have you met Torii Hunter Jr. yet?
“Yeah, that’s my guy. He’s been a mentor for me. I mean, when I came in the organization he’s been like a father figure, kind of. Like that man that we look up to. He showed up the ropes and that will always be like a big brother.”
That’s awesome. So you and Torii Hunter Jr. race to first base, who wins?
“[laughs] Me! [laughs] I’d challenge Billy Hamilton or whoever you like to throw out there.”
Jam Jones is another guy we have who is pretty fast, too. I think the Angels could have a pretty good track team if they wanted to.
“Ask D’Shawn. I think the Angels could go to the Olympics, run us one by one.”
Well, again, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
“Thank you. My pleasure.”
There you go. I can’t emphasize enough how playful some of the banter was with D’Shawn and towards the end. Trent is confident, but far from cocky. He’s sincere, intensely competitive, and has a great back story. Count me as a fan.
Please leave comments and questions down below.