It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for Devlin Granberg, who was honored with the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award at the Fort Worth Club on Thursday.
In May, he was finishing out his stellar career at Dallas Baptist University after transferring from Creighton and Cisco Junior College.
In his final college season, Granberg was the best hitter in all of college baseball. By season’s end, he’d accumulated the most hits in the nation (112), as well as the second best batting average (.443).
In addition to being named the Missouri Valley Conference’s Player of the Year, he also led his team to the NCAA Tournament, where he was named the Most Outstanding Player in that region.
In June, the Hudson, CO native was drafted in the sixth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Boston Red Sox. This past season, he played for the Class-A Lowell Spinners.
His most recent award, the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award, takes into account performance at the plate, academics and personal integrity of players from all 21 Division 1 baseball programs in Texas. Texas Tech’s Hunter Hargrove won the first-ever award last year.
Granberg’s on and off-the-field success in his final season (the Kinesiology major graduated with a 4.0 last spring) earned him that honor.
The slugger’s is already thinking about Red Sox Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla. Before the event tonight, he spoke to the Star-Telegram about his college career, life in the minor leagues and that World Series Champion Red Sox team.
In hindsight, what was the one thing you improved upon the most at Dallas Baptist that you really needed to succeed?
From the great job that coach [Dan] Heefner does, stressing character over talent and athletic ability. That might not be the best answer athletically. It’s the biggest area I grew in these past couple of years. It stresses fellowship and a brotherhood with the guys. Who you are is more important than what you do. I think it allowed myself and teammates at DBU to play with freedom and give it all you’ve got.
You mentioned the importance of being a teammate and you’ve gotten high praise from them and coaches. But how tricky is it to balance that with the individual career aspirations?
It’s really tricky. I realized how hard it was when I got to pro ball. Pro ball is more about development. They care about winning, but it might not be as high on the list. I think the coaches at DBU did a good job stressing having to do your job. And this year, I thought my job was to set the table for guys. I probably led off a third of the year. Like I said, it is tough to balance, but I think I did a good job with it.
What was the draft process like going in and then getting drafted in the sixth round by the Red Sox?
That draft day was very stressful. I knew I wouldn’t go on Day 1, because my agent has an ear on those things. Day 2 rolled along and I got nervous because I never thought I could get drafted before this point. Coming out of high school or junior college, I wasn’t ready. It was a nerve-wracking day with teams calling here and the phone ringing. It was surreal going to such a great organization.
What was the hardest adjustment on the field?
I ended up playing first base, which absolutely came out of nowhere. I played first base maybe four times my senior year. I didn’t think it was an option. That was a big adjustment, dealing with the speed of the game. You get those big lefties up there, and they aren’t trying to spray a single the other way. They’re spraying seeds at you.
The Red Sox have traded away a bunch of prospects in the past few years. How do you balance wanting to make it to AA with trying to take the time to develop yourself and your game the right way?
It’s a hard balance to think about. You really have to talk it out with yourself. Because sometimes you say yourself ‘Hey, maybe I could do this or that better.’ It’s such a slippery slope when you think that way. Because all of a sudden, you find yourself 0 for 15, and you think you are so far in your own head. I found you really needed to be rooted in what’s right in front of you.
How exciting to see the Red Sox win the World Series?
It was awesome. Being in Lowell, around 30 minutes from Boston, there were a bunch of guys that came for rehab stints. So, Ian Kinsler, Rafael Devers and Blake Swihart all came through and you see these guys you met in the playoffs.
You finished this season hitting over .300, what led to the strong finish?
I kind of lost my timing there for a bit. It was pro ball and a new setting, so you might press a little too much. The coaches sat me down after I went something like 0 for my first five games. They said ‘stick to the process and hitters are going to hit.’ Eventually I was able to find a rhythm.