- PAUL, MN(June 25, 2020) –Depth is going to be of the utmost importance this season for all teams in the American Association. The St. Paul Saints made sure to grab as much as they could eight days before the 2020 season begins. The defending American Association champs re-signed pitcher Mike Devine and outfielder Troy Alexander, added outfielders Sebastian Zawada and Justin Byrd, catcher Cody Young and officially signed their video tryout winner, Connor White.
The 30-year-old Devine was one of the best relievers in the American Association last season for the Saints. He went 4-3 with a 2.00 ERA and three saves in 37 relief appearances. In 54.0 innings pitched he walked 20 and struck out 50 while opponents hit just .210 against him. He did not give up an earned run in 28 of 37 appearances and went 13.2 consecutive scoreless innings from May 27-July 14. He pitched two games in the playoffs, both in the North Division Championship Series and went 5.0 scoreless innings allowing just two hits. He was unbelievable in Game 5 going 3.2 scoreless innings, a game the Saints came from behind to win 9-7.
Devine began his career by signing as a free agent with the Traverse City Beach Bums (Independent, Frontier League) out of Virginia Military Institute in 2012. He was 0-0 with a 2.84 ERA and three saves in five relief appearances. In 12.2 innings he didn’t walk a batter and struck out 11 while opponents hit .239 against him. Devine recorded a save in his final three relief appearances and helped guide the Beach Bums to the playoffs where they lost three-games-to-none to the Southern Illinois Miners in the semi-finals.
In 2013 Devine pitched the entire season with the Beach Bums, but this time mostly as a starter. He was 6-2 with a 3.95 ERA in 19 games (15 starts). In 86.2 innings pitched he walked 34 and struck out 65 while opponents hit .254 against him. He finished fifth in the league in win percentage (.750) and once again reached the playoffs, but lost three-games-to-two to the Lake Erie Crushers in the semifinals. Devine’s best performance in the regular season came in his final start allowing one run on four hits in 7.0 innings pitched against the Joliet Slammers. In his lone start of the postseason he pitched 6.0 shutout innings and earned the victory.
Devine began 2014 with the Beach Bums, but was released on June 17 and then signed with the Normal CornBelters in the same league. Between the two teams he was 3-5 with a 5.75 ERA in 15 starts, setting the stage for an incredible 2015 year as a reliever.
Signing as a free agent in the Frontier League with the Lake Erie Crushers in 2015, Devine was the biggest workhorse in the league. Devine went 3-4 with a 3.33 ERA and four saves, pitching in an astounding 60 of the Crushers 95 games. In 78.1 innings pitched he walked 17 and struck out 83 while opponents hit .246 against him. He led the league by eight appearances, pitched on four consecutive days three different times and an amazing six consecutive days from August 4-9. He also pitched in both games of a July 9 doubleheader. Despite the workload Devine didn’t give up an earned run, just one total run, over his final nine relief appearances, 12.1 innings pitched.
All of Devine’s success on the mound was rewarded in 2016 when he began the season with the Crushers and made the All-Star team. He was 7-6 with a 4.56 ERA and three saves in 29 games (nine starts). In 81.0 innings pitched he walked 18 and struck out 67 while opponents hit .274 against him. His ERA, however, was incredible as a reliever where he went 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA in 20 relief appearances (28.1 IP). He was selected as a Frontier League All-Star and pitched in the game on July 13 in Florence. He didn’t allow a run in seven straight relief appearances (8.0 IP) from May 31-June 10. What was most impressive about that feat was he pitched on six consecutive days during the streak from May 31-June 5. Devine was traded to the Wingnuts in mid-August to strengthen their staff for the playoffs and he went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 10 relief appearances. In 13.0 innings he walked just two and struck out eight while opponents hit .280 against him. The Wingnuts reached the American Association Championship Series, but lost three-games-to-two to the Goldeyes.
Devine was an important reliever for the Wingnuts in 2017 on their road to the American Association Championship Series. He was 3-4 with a 2.25 ERA in 44 games. In 44.0 innings pitched he walked 11 and struck out 34 while opponents hit just .222 against him. He had two separate stints of not giving up a run in seven straight appearances including his final nine (10.0 IP) from August 14-September 4. Devine also went five straight appearances, 5.1 innings pitched, without allowing a run or hit from June 21-July 2. He threw on four consecutive days from June 3-6.
Devine was a workhorse for the Saints in 2018 going 5-4 with a 2.57 ERA and six saves in 49 relief appearances. In 66.2 innings pitched he walked 21, struck out 68, while opponents hit .224 against him. He finished tied for fourth in the league in appearances. Devine had the third longest consecutive scoreless streak in franchise history, 22.0 innings, July 3-August 6. He didn’t give up an earned run in 40 of 49 outings. He was instrumental in the Saints getting to the American Association Championship Series.
Devine graduated from VMI and finished his career second all-time in appearances (90) and saves (15).
The 23-year-old Alexander began his professional career with the Saints last season and hit .200 with seven RBI in 17 games. In 40 at bats he scored four runs, had a double, a .283 on base percentage, and a .225 slugging percentage. In his first professional at bat, on July 14, he was hit by a pitch. His first pro hit came in his fourth game when he singled to left. He also collected three RBI that day. In three straight games from July 14-16 he went 6-14 with five RBI against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
Prior to joining the Saints Alexander finished his collegiate career at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock where he hit .251 with 12 home runs and 41 RBI in 57 games. In 215 at bats he scored 39 runs, ripped 13 doubles, had a .333 on base percentage, and a .479 slugging percentage. He finished second on the team in doubles and home runs. He notched 12 multi-hit games and went 5-7 with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI on March 23 at Georgia Southern. Alexander also hit a big grand slam in a win over the University of Arkansas on April 2.
Alexander began his college career at Alvin Community College. He hit .306 with three home runs and 17 RBI.
Alexander graduated from Ridge Point (TX) High School and was an All-State Third Team and All-District First Team as a senior and was All-District First Team at quarterback in football.
The 25-year-old Zawada spent all last season with the Sioux City Explorers in the American Association and had a solid first full year in professional baseball. He hit .263 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI in 77 games. In 274 at bats he scored 37 runs, slugged 20 doubles, a .305 on base percentage, and a .456 slugging percentage. Zawada doubled in back-to-back games on four occasions and three straight games once.
Zawada began his career in 2017 with the Southern Illinois Miners and played in five games going two for 12. He did not play in 2018.
Zawada started his college career at South Mountain Community College and in his second season led the Cougars with a .380 average with 19 homers and 66 RBI en route to a First Team All-Region and First Team All-Conference honors. He then transferred to Arizona State University.
The 27-year-old Byrd spent most of last season in the Pacific Association with the Salina Stockade before being traded to the Napa Silverados on July 30. Between the two stops he hit .270 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI in 52 games. In 189 at bats he scored 50 runs, clubbed 12 doubles, swiped 36 bases, with a .444 on base percentage, and a .524 slugging percentage for a .968 OPS. Byrd homered in four straight games from July 10-13, including a two home run, four RBI performance on the 13th. He had a 12-game hitting streak from July 3-19, swiped a base in five straight from July 6-13 and stole an incredible five bases on June 14.
Following his time in the Pacific Association he was signed by the Texas AirHogs in the American Association where he .272 with a home run and five RBI in 22 games. In 81 at bats he scored 18 runs, had four doubles, four triples, swiped five bases, had a .362 on base percentage, and a .457 slugging percentage.
Byrd began his professional career in 2015 with the AirHogs where he hit .241 with six RBI in 17 games. In 54 at bats he scored seven runs, had a double, a .373 on base percentage, and a .259 slugging percentage.
In 2016 Byrd began the season with the Schaumburg Boomers in the Frontier League before being released and signing four days later in the same league with the Lake Erie Crushers. Between the two teams he hit .209 with 11 RBI. In 51 games he scored 22 runs, had six doubles, swiped 16 bases, had a .322 on base percentage, and a .244 slugging percentage. He stole a base in back-to-back games three times and three straight once.
After not playing in 2017, Byrd began 2018 in the Pecos League with the Roswell Invaders and hit .333 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 31 games. After being released by the Invaders at the end of July, he signed with the Cleburne Railroaders of the American Association for the final 10 days of the season. He went 8-34 with two RBI in nine games.
Byrd began his college career at San Jacinto (TX) Junior College before transferring to Cumberland (TN) University. While there he won an NAIA National Championship and hit two grand slams in his final game as a junior.
The 24-year-old Young spent last season, his first as a pro, with the American Association’s Winnipeg Goldeyes and hit .194 with two RBI in 26 games.
Young finished his college career in 2018 at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. He hit .315 for the Bryan Lions in 50 games with nine home runs and 37 RBI. He also played college baseball at Delta State University (Cleveland, Mississippi), Walters State Community College (Morristown, Tennessee), and Itawamba Community College (Fulton, Mississippi). During his junior year with Delta State in 2017, Young helped the Statesmen reach the Division-II College World Series.
The 23-year-old White was the winner of the Saints video tryout where players could submit a tryout video and fans voted on the player who would be invited into spring training. White spent the last two years at Portland University and went 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in five games in 2019. In 2.1 innings he struck out five.
White began his collegiate career at Columbia Basin (WA) CC where helped lead the team to two NWAC East Championships.
These are the 18th-23rd signings this off-season for the Saints.
RHP Mike Devine
RHP Brian Glowicki
RHP Spencer Jones
RHP Tanner Kiest
RHP Eddie Medina
RHP Matt Quintana
RHP Jameson McGrane
RHP Matt Solter
LHP Jose Velez
RHP Connor White
RHP Ryan Zimmerman
C Chris Chinea
C Mitch Ghelfi
C Cody Young
INF Josh Allen
INF Connor Justus
INF JC Millan
INF Telvin Nash*
INF John Silviano
INF Chesny Young
OF Troy Alexander
OF Justin Byrd
OF Max Murphy
OF Sebastian Zawada
*Telvin Nash was signed by the Saints, but is currently playing in Japan.
The St. Paul Saints will begin the defense of their title on July 3 in Sioux Falls against the Sioux Falls Canaries. The Saints will play out of the Sioux Falls hub for their home games until outdoor events are able to open to larger crowds in Minnesota. For more information and the 2020 schedule visit saintsbaseball.com.