NCAA: AZ State Sun Devil Baseball Preview
Arizona State’s 2012 baseball program had a solid season, winning 36 games. However, it came to an end sooner than we had hoped. The Sun Devils did not even make it to the regional round. The 2012 season was the season Arizona State selected to miss postseason play, due to violations that transpired under their former coach.
This is a new year and the Sun Devil baseball team hopes to have a strong and competitive season and make the NCAA tournament. They just want to put their past troubles behind them and put the attention solely back on the baseball field.
Three players with great influence on last year’s team are gone, including first baseman Abe Ruiz. Ruiz hit 13 home runs and had 53 RBI last year; Shortstop Deven Marrero, hit .284; and infielder Joey DeMichele who hit .336 and scored 47 runs. That is a lot of power, runs and batting averages to try and replace.
The 2013 Arizona State Sun Devil baseball squad will have a lot of new faces. There will be some challenges surrounding this team as well, but make no mistake there is a lot of talent on this team. They will bring in the one of the best recruiting classes in the nation and those freshmen will be expected to have a major impact on the team.
They have some solid players coming back but all players on the 2013 roster will be counted on to contribute. There are three guys from last year’s team that will have to pick up the slack to replace all that hitting lost from 2012. Catcher Max Rossiter had 45 hits and hit .326 last year. Infielder Michael Benjamin batted .322 with 22 RBI. Utility Specialist James McDonald had 54 hits and 28 RBI with a .284 batting average. Other returning players who will need to contribute include Outfielder/Pitcher Trever Allen, and Outfielder Kasey Coffman.
Pitchers not returning to this year’s squad include Brady Rodgers with a 10-3 record, 2.27 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 115 innings pitched; Robert Ravago with a 4-1 record, 2.56 ERA; and Jake Barrett with a 1.62 ERA, to go along with 11 saves. They were all juniors and were among nine Sun Devils taken in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft. There is some excellent pitching help returning this year; including right hander Trevor Williams. He was selected as a 2013 preseason All-America candidate. Last year he was 12-2, with a 2.09 ERA and issued only 13 walks in 109.2 innings. Williams is a proven ace with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s. Lefty Adam McCreery, who was hurt part of last season, but has been given medical clearance to play this year. McCreery posted a 2-0 record with a 1.32 ERA and, lefty Matt Dunbar, who had 30 strikeouts and 1.54 ERA. McCreery and Dunbar will both see plenty of work with the departures of Rodgers, Barrett and Ravago.
A trio of freshmen pitchers will help reinforce the rotation. They are lefties Ryan Kellogg and Brent Lilek and right-hander Ryan Burr. All three were drafted by MLB teams but chose to go to college, so they will get plenty of action for this year’s team.
There are some questions surrounding this year’s team that was picked 6th in the Pac 12. They include the after affects from the sanctions that were handed down previously and the departure of several players from last year. Along with, who will step forward as a leader of this year’s team. But look for the Sun Devils to make it to a regional again this year. 35 victories should be easy to accomplish, but if the offense takes shape and the young pitching staff comes together, it might be a 40-45 win season and possibly hosting a regional in Tempe. Go Sun Devils!