The Closer: Baseball Standout and MLB Draft Pick Nolan DeVos ’23 Brings Home Diploma

Nolan DeVos ’23 pitching in baseball game

Nolan DeVos is a closer. With the game on the line, the former Davidson weekend starter and Houston Astros draft pick marshaled his fiery competitiveness and electric pitching arsenal to finish the job. Now, he’s taken that drive and aimed it at finishing what he started in the classroom at Davidson.

As Davidson’s primary reliever in 2021, DeVos led the Atlantic 10 Conference with eight saves and posted a team-best 1.48 ERA. DeVos thrived in the late-inning, pressurized role.

Houston selected DeVos in the fifth round of the 2022 draft after his junior season at Davidson, opening a door to another avenue.

Being drafted in the early rounds is like being offered a job in any field prior to graduation; the employer wants you to start immediately. The deal made sense, so DeVos embarked on his pro career five classes shy of a Davidson degree and with high hopes.

Two pro seasons later, DeVos has worked on his mechanics and strength, tweaked his slider into more of a sweeper and adjusted to more of a splitter grip on his changeup. He’s had positive results while wearing uniforms with in-state Astros affiliates in Fayetteville and Asheville, and he’s continued to learn the ins and outs of the pro game.

Nolan DeVos ’23 holding his diploma standing between parents

Away from the stadium lights, he completed his Davidson coursework. He wrapped up his academic requirements in the fall.

“I took my final exam on a Friday morning,” DeVos says. “When I walked out of there, I felt a lot of relief and a lot of pride. It felt really good.”

After taking two online classes in the fall of 2022, DeVos finished in-person in his final semester. He needed one more class for his economics degree and capped off his college career with two philosophy classes. As the end of the baseball season coincided with the start of the semester, it required some late-night and early-morning travel to make things work. When the Asheville Tourists returned from playing their last series of the season in Rome, Georgia, DeVos quickly packed up his locker and set his sights on Davidson for the rest of the fall.

“Nolan was driving five hours roundtrip on his off days during his season to be in class,” says head Davidson Head Baseball Coach Rucker Taylor. “Once his season ended, he was on campus every day, working and also training for baseball. He put a lot of effort into his last two semesters. It’s wonderful he and the college collaborated to finish up.”

I took my final exam on a Friday morning. When I walked out of there, I felt a lot of relief and a lot of pride. It felt really good.

Nolan DeVos

While pitching at Davidson, DeVos was twice an Atlantic 10 Conference First Team pick. In 2022, when the Wildcats won a program-best 43 games, he was the team’s Friday starter and went 9–2. He led the A-10 with a 2.40 ERA, 106 strikeouts and 12.13 strikeouts per nine innings.

In two pro seasons, DeVos has put up similar numbers. He is 8–4 with a 3.03 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 113.0 innings. He’s appeared in 31 games, starting 17, and has held opposing hitters to a .217 average. Another impressive stat: he’s signed more than 7,000 of his Panini baseball cards.

DeVos spent the first month of his pro career in the Florida Complex League, then ended the 2022 summer with the Low-A Fayetteville Woodpeckers of the Carolina League. He also pitched 52.1 innings with Fayetteville last summer, including a memorable outing at Kannapolis on May 29. DeVos was in peak form against the Cannon Ballers not far from his childhood home, tossing three scoreless and hitless innings in front of a few hundred friends and family members.

“Kannapolis … that was pretty cool,” DeVos says. “That was probably my favorite outing ever.”

Nolan Devos with Athletics Leadership, Baseball Head Coaches and Doug Hicks

Not long after that, DeVos was promoted to High-A Asheville of the South Atlantic League, where he made 12 appearances and closed the 2023 season.

Playing in his home state has been beneficial in many ways, including completing his degree.

“Only so many teams have local affiliates, so it was really fortunate for me,” he says. “I knew with being in Fayetteville and Asheville, I was close by and could make that drive.”

DeVos closed out his final win at Wilson Field Jan. 18 when his parents, Dan and Aimee, family members and friends surprised him with a graduation ceremony in the players lounge of the Coach Cooke Clubhouse. Former Wildcats (and fellow pros) Ryan Wilson ’23 and Will Schomberg ’23 attended, along with President Doug Hicks ’90 and Director of Athletics Chris Clunie ’06. DeVos wore a cap and gown, and a family friend played “Pomp and Circumstance” on his phone as DeVos walked around greeting everyone.

“It was very cool, and I’m grateful,” DeVos says. “In the event I can’t walk (at spring graduation), that’ll do for me.”


Peak Performance

To get optimal nutrition from your diet and workout routine, you should follow certain schedules and eat with intention before and after you exercise. The registered dietitians at Davidson College recommend the following tips to help you prepare for and recover from your workout or sports contest.

Workout Tips

This article was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2024 print issue of the Davidson Journal Magazine; for more, please see the Davidson Journal section of our website.

A major league baseball contract caused Nolan DeVos to leave before graduating from Davidson College, but this closer worked at every chance to finish the job of earning his diploma. Read more.


  • May 31, 2024


  • Justin Parker

Feature Photography

  • Tim Cowie


  • Courtesy of Davidson Athletics