Seton Hall baseball coach Rob Sheppard knows talent when he sees it and there’s no doubt he has a top player in second-team All-American ace, Ricky DeVito.
DeVito, who was lights out as a freshman reliever battled the hardships of an offseason surgery to transform into one of the best starting pitchers in the country last season.
“He’ll definitely be one of those guys who will leave a lasting impression on the program,” Sheppard said.
In his first year at Seton Hall, DeVito was a force coming out of the bullpen. In 12 appearances, he did not allow an earned run and limited hitters to a .122 batting average. On a team where Sheppard says that roles are earned through performance, DeVito was ready to take the next step.
Before entering the 2018 season, DeVito would have to deal with offseason surgery. The procedure had complications towards his physical well-being, such as not being able to eat.
“I had a little bit of a setback because in the fall I had surgery,” DeVito said. “I dropped to 158 pounds. I was really weak and basically had to start everything over. Once I got over sleeping issues and breathing issues, and after getting it fixed, once I was able to lift again, I was just hungrier than ever. I just put on a lot of muscle and worked a lot towards pitching and just knowing how important the season was coming up, I was excited for it.”
The trial and tribulations proved to be worth it for DeVito and his new role. As a starter, DeVito led the Big East with a 1.88 ERA. He would also rank top-10 in the conference for opposing batting average, innings pitched, wins, strikeouts, starts and earned runs. His domination of the league earned him Big East Pitcher of The Year while also being named first-team All-Big East.
“What makes Ricky good is that he has really good stuff,” Sheppard said. “Usually, at this level, you will have guys with one or two really good pitches. Ricky has the ability to throw three different pitches at a very successful rate for strikes. But he can continue to get better. The other thing is that Ricky is very determined. He knows what he wants to do and he’ll work hard to obtain that.”
Following his standout sophomore campaign, DeVito was invited to play in the prestigious Cape Cod summer league, an amateur season circuit that produced 306 players in the 2017 Major League Baseball season.
While playing for the Harwich Mariners, DeVito started in five of his eight games and produced a 2.45 ERA. He also racked up 35 strikeouts in 29.1 innings.
“It was really fun [to play in Cape Cod],” DeVito said. “A lot of really good players and a lot of really big names. I got to showcase myself and show why I think I am just as good as all those kids out there.”
Now, DeVito is looking forward to the upcoming season. He wants to focus on throwing harder, giving up less walks, and pitching with consistency, but what molded DeVito into the person and player he is today will continue to be his driving force.
“I just feel like I am nine months into playing baseball,” DeVito said. “I had to redo everything for my entire body so I feel just getting stronger and healthier and just getting better overall. Just knowing I had that setback, I have so much room for improvement, it’s awesome.”
Robert Fallo can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @robert_fallo.