Category: Baseball

ASU Baseball’s New Look Sun Devils Picking Up Where They Left off

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The Arizona State baseball team is one of the most storied programs in all of college baseball. With five National Championships, four trips to the College World Series in the past seven years and over 100 players to make it to “The Show,” it was tough to see the Sun Devils’ 12-year postseason streak come to an end last season due to NCAA sanctions.

Tougher still, to see their in-state rival Arizona Wildcats advance to the College World Series and dominate the tournament.

The pundits and sports writers were not kind to the Sun Devils, with only the USA Today Coaches Poll ranking them in their preseason poll—at No. 20.

Their opening weekend against tiny Bethune-Cookman didn’t exactly go as head coach Tim Esmay had planned. They needed 11 innings to win the opener and dropped the final game 7-6 after a late rally came up short. There were many questions about all the new faces on the diamond for the Sun Devils and an issue with the No. 3 starter, Darin Gillies, who finished the 2012 season with a record of 1-4 and .503 ERA.

Esmay could ill-afford to run Gillies back out on the mound. With so much new talent in his bullpen, Gillies hasn’t played since the opening weekend where he only lasted one inning. Freshmen Ryan Kellogg and Brent Lilek have started four games and are a perfect 4-0.

The Devils traveled to Knoxville, Tenn. the following week to take on the Volunteers and earned a series win, although pitcher Adam McCreery was roughed up in a 11-2 loss.

At 4-2, Arizona State returned home to host the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz. The Classic featured Arizona State playing Pacific University, Gonzaga and then No. 2 Arkansas directly after MLB Spring Training games.

treverThe Sun Devils defeated Pacific and Arkansas twice, then went on to tie Gonzaga. The game was called due to a late start and pre-arranged travel plans to get the ‘Zags back to Spokane that evening.

With two victories over a No. 2 team, the Devils were beginning to get noticed.

They were ranked in all four polls, ranging from No. 20 to No. 23 and things were clicking for Coach Esmay’s squad. Next up for ASU was a three-game home stand against the always tough Dirtbags from Long Beach State.

Mother Nature had something to say about Friday’s series opener and dumped rain in Tempe all day, forcing a doubleheader on Saturday. The pitching duo of Trevor Williams and Ryan Kellogg pitched back-to-back shutouts and surrendered only five hits and two walks on Saturday. Sunday saw a litany of hits and runs scored as seven different Sun Devil players knocked in runs in the nine-run fourth inning. The Dirtbags managed two runs in the sixth before falling 11-2.

It was an outright dominant performance by the Sun Devils holding LBSU scoreless for 26 of 27 innings and only giving up 11 total hits and six walks while outscoring the Dirtbags 21-2 over the three game series.

Arizona State ace Trevor Williams was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday after consecutive complete games and his third career complete-game shutout. Williams ranks No. 3 in the conference with a 0.90 ERA and is the best in the Pac-12 in opposing batting average at .149.

A stellar pitching rotation isn’t the only area where the Devils are excelling, they are also going gang-busters in the field and at the plate.

The weekend set against Long Beach State was error-free and they are averaging just over one per game. Outfielder Kasey Coffman leads the team with a .370 batting average followed by third baseman Michael Benjamin (.349), catcher Max Rossiter (.311), second baseman James McDonald (.300) and SS Drew Stankiewicz hitting .298.

Outfielder Trever Allen leads the team with four home runs and all starters with a .617 slugging percentage. Also of note, Michael Benjamin is in the midst of a career-high and team-high 12-game hitting streak.

asubase 0123131056jmThe Sun Devils are now in second place in the Pac-12 with a record of 10-2-1 and are moving up the polls, here is the latest as of March 11:

NCBWA Rank: No. 19

Baseball America Rank: No. 14

Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 15

USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 18

Wednesday is the final day of non-conference play as the Devils host the New Mexico Lobos at 6:30 p.m. PT with junior Zak Miller getting the start. They welcome the 9-6 Washington State Cougars this weekend and will go with the rotation of Williams, Kellogg and McCreery.

Next week will be a defining time for the Devils as they travel to Corvallis to take on the 15-0 Oregon State Beavers that are ranked as high as No. 2 by Collegiate Baseball, but we have all seen what Arizona State does to No. 2 teams.

If you are anywhere near Tempe, Ariz. over the next three months, do yourself a favor and head out to Packard Stadium to see a great baseball program and get a closer look at some of the games’ best and brightest players.

Pac-12 Baseball Week 4 Power Rankings

devils base

It is a battle as old as sports itself.

West Coast vs. East Coast, or from my home in the Sonoran Desert—the “Best Coast” vs. the “Least Coast.”

With six teams from the Pac-12 Conference in the four national polls and another three smaller California schools joining the fray, it is safe to say that baseball rules in the west and vice-versa.

Granted, the top two teams in the country in all four polls are from the east, what happened when last week’s No. 2 Arkansas Razorbacks played the No. 24 Arizona State Sun Devils? They lost both times. They are lucky to still be ranked with a 7-5 record.

Entering the final week of non-conference play, I will examine the Pac-12 teams including their past, present and future.

Oregon State Beavers

beaver baseRecord: 11-0

NCBWA Rank: No. 4

Baseball America Rank: No. 4

Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 3

USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 4

Composite Rank: No. 3.75

The Beavers are on a tear and have won 11 straight to open the season. The Tuesday night game against University of Portland was rained out and there are no immediate plans to reschedule it.

The Beavers began the season with victories in the Palm Springs Tournament over Utah Valley, Gonzaga and a pair over UC Riverside. They went on to win two four-game sets vs. San Diego State and tiny Bryant University from Rhode Island.

Next up for Oregon State is a three-game set hosting Texas State this weekend and University of San Francisco on March 12 and 13.

Stanford Cardinal

card baseRecord: 10-2

NCBWA Rank: No. 9

Baseball America Rank: No. 13

Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 9

USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 10

Composite Rank: No. 10.25

The Cardinal had a rough start to the season dropping two of three to the Rice Owls. They rebounded nicely winning their next nine, including two on the road at St. Mary’s and Santa Clara.

They beat cross-town rival California in a non-conference tilt and swept the Fresno State Bulldogs. The more impressive homestand was against perennial baseball powerhouse Texas Longhorns. The Cardinal shutout the ‘Horns in the first game and only surrendered three total runs over the three-game set.

Next up for Stanford is hosting UNLV (9-3) this weekend and then a week off before hosting Utah March 22-24.

UCLA Bruins

bruin baseRecord: 9-2

NCBWA Rank: No. 7

Baseball America Rank: No. 12

Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 13

USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 9

Composite Rank: No. 10.25

The Bruins dropped their season-opener against the Minnesota Golden Gophers and were most likely embarrassed. They went on to destroy Minnesota over the next two games by a total of 28-1.

The Bruins traveled to Waco, Tex. and won the series against Baylor, losing the second game, but winning the all-important rubber match on Sunday.

They have won six straight including a three-game set against Wright State, and victories over nearby UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State.

Next up for the Bruins is a couple of ranked teams in 11-1 Oklahoma and 8-2 Notre Dame, along with cross-town rival USC Trojans in a non-conference matchup.

Oregon Ducks

duck baseRecord: 10-3

NCBWA Rank: No. 11

Baseball America Rank: No. 15

Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 14

USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 13

Composite Rank: No. 13.25

The Oregon Ducks tumbled out of the Top 10 in all four polls this week after losing two of three to the Cal State Fullerton Titans.

The Ducks started the season in Hawaii and swept the Rainbow Warriors in four straight. Their home opener against Loyola Marymount didn’t go as planned as they lost 7-2. They went on to win the series in back-to-back 6-1 victories.

They picked up wins against the University of Portland and a couple over Cal State Northridge. Oregon can be applauded for scheduling tough non-conference games although the Pac-12 schedule is tough enough.

Next up for the Ducks is hosting the No. 2 team in the country, Vanderbilt. The Commodores are 12-1 with their only loss coming to, you guessed it—a West Coast school. Following the three-game set with Vanderbilt, the Ducks welcome Texas State for a mid-week pair of games.

Arizona Wildcats

cat baseRecord: 11-4

NCBWA Rank: No. 17

Baseball America Rank: No. 20

Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 18

USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 16

Composite Rank: No. 17.75

The defending College World Series champions are an anomaly already this early in the season. They loaded their non-conference schedule with relative unknowns and have still managed to lose four  games.

They dominated Coppin State on opening weekend scoring in double digits all three games. They traveled to Long Beach State and split the pair. The ‘Cats went on to sweep San Jose State and then split with Utah Valley.

Arizona started well against the University of San Francisco scoring 20 runs in the first two games but dropped the finale 9-2. They also split a mid-week pair with Texas Tech.

Next up for the Wildcats is  a weekend set hosting Columbia and a mid-week pair against Butler.

Arizona State Sun Devils

devil baseRecord: 7-2-1

NCBWA Rank: No. 23

Baseball America Rank: No. 23

Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 20

USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 21

Composite Rank: No. 21.75

The Sun Devils had an interesting weekend in a town aptly named Surprise, Ariz. The Coca-Cola Classic featured the Devils along with Pacific, Gonzaga and the No. 2 Arkansas Razorbacks.

The Devils hosted each team following Major League Baseball Spring Training games at the home of the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals.

The surprise for the Devils is that they defeated Arkansas twice and then went on to tie Gonzaga.

There’s no tying in baseball!

All games were slated to start at 4pm MST, but this one got off to a later start and the ‘Zags had to catch their plane back to Spokane and the game was called at a 6-6 tie.

Next up for Arizona State is a three-game set hosting the Dirtbags of Long Beach State and the University of New Mexico visits Tempe on March 13.

Unranked Teams

Washington State Cougar baseballThe remaining five teams in the Pac-12 aren’t ranked and look to be the whipping posts for the aforementioned six teams.

Here is where they stand as of March 6:

Washington State University: 8-3

The Cougars lost their first two games to Western Carolina and went on to win eight straight before losing the finale against Cal State Northridge. They have a four-game set this weekend against Texas San Antonio.

University of Southern California: 6-5

The winningest program in college baseball history hasn’t seen the postseason since 2005, the CWS since 2001 and hasn’t brought home the trophy since 1998. They have losses to Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Northridge and dropped two to Fresno State. Their next four games are against ranked teams in Cal State Fullerton, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and UCLA.

University of Utah: 5-5

The Utes lost their opening series to Loyola Marymount and went on to take three out of four from UC Davis. They only won once in Minneapolis last weekend defeating Northern Illinois while taking losses to Dartmouth and the host Minnesota Golden Gophers. They travel to St. Mary’s in California for a four-game set this weekend.

bear baseUniversity of California: 5-7

The Bears started strong by sweeping the University of Michigan. They went on to lose to Stanford and lost three of four to UC Irvine. They only managed one victory in the Houston College Classic losing to Baylor, No. 1 North Carolina and Rice. They welcome Fresno State for four games this weekend and Santa Clara mid-week.

University of Washington: 3-8

It has been a rough season already for the Huskies losing five of their past seven games. They opened up with a four-game set at UC Davis and only managed one victory. They repeated themselves in Beaumont, Tex. losing three of four to Lamar University. They travel to Baton Rouge this weekend for three games against the No. 3 LSU Tigers.

“New Sparky” Causes Outrage Among Sun Devil Faithful

New Sparky

Call it Walt Disney’s revenge.

In 1946, Arizona State alum and former Disney employee Berk Anthony drew the iconic image of Sparky the Sun Devil. It has been rumored that Anthony drew the devil in the likeness of his autocratic boss after being fired by Disney.

The rumors swirled around about the resemblance, but Anthony assured that it was merely a coincidence.

The redesign or re-imagination was a collaborative effort between the University and Disney with Arizona State alum Stephen Teglas, the vice president of licensing at Disney Consumer Products, running point.

The new look of the mascot is more cartoonish, is designed to appeal to a younger demographic and will be used in comic books and children’s books.

The new mascot has been widely panned by current and former students as well as lifelong fans. Although Sparky has received many redesigns over the years, this is clearly the most drastic and most clearly despised by Sun Devil Nation.

new sparky bots

Leave it to Hollywood that spends its time rehashing classic movies and TV shows into movies to make our beloved mascot look like a combination of known characters in the Nasonex bee, Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story and the Gothic mask by Guy Fawkes.

 

The mascot is designed to resemble a superhero with a muscular build and knee-high boots.

Knee-high boots.

There has been severe backlash including a change.org petition, a Facebook page titled Bring the Old ASU Sparky Back and a Facebook group 100,000 Arizona State Fans Against the New Sparky. There was even an unofficial poll run by House of Sparky that showed an approval rating of only 10 percent.

One of the major complaints is the dominance of the black that has been introduced recently and not enough of the traditional maroon. Conversely, the perma-grin is no longer devilish and he actually looks happy, not menacing. This is not a mascot that will strike fear into others, but it will evoke a different reaction—-pointing and laughing.

Former Arizona State running back and team captain Cameron Marshall even spoke up about the new Sparky on Twitter:

 


This redesign is an outright abomination and complete disaster on the part of the Arizona State Athletics Department but it no longer resembles Walt Disney.waltdisney_sparky

Chalk up another one for corporate America where the almighty dollar can destroy decades of tradition at an institution that has so few.

Is Pac-12 Baseball Too Good for Its Own Good?

Harry How-Getty Images

The Pacific-12 Conference had a great opening weekend on the baseball diamond.

There are currently four teams in the top 10 of National College Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA) Poll and three more in the Top 35.

With seven of the 11 schools (Colorado doesn’t field a team) being ranked in the Top 35, will the Pac-12 do more harm than good when conference play begins in mid-March?

Two other polls, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, also have five Pac-12 teams listed in their Top 25, but their top 10 rankings are considerably different with Baseball America only giving Oregon State a nod while Collegiate Baseball has three teams in the top 10.

Let’s take a closer look at the top-ranked teams from the Conference of Champions.

Oregon State Beavers

  • Record: 4-0
  • NCBWA Rank: No. 8
  • Baseball America Rank: No. 6
  • Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 9
  • Composite Rank: No. 7.66

The Oregon State Beavers participated in the Palm Springs Tournament over the weekend and were victorious beating Utah Valley, Gonzaga and UC Riverside twice.

Next up for the Beavers is a Thursday to Sunday four-game stretch at San Diego State. The Aztecs are 3-0 and ranked No. 22 by Collegiate Baseball.

UCLA Bruins

  • bruin baseRecord: 2-1
  • NCBWA Rank: No. 6
  • Baseball America Rank: No. 12
  • Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 6
  • Composite Rank: No. 8

The UCLA Bruins dropped their season opener 6-2 to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and then went on to pummel the Gophers by a combined score of 28-1 in the next two games.

The Bruins travel to Waco, Tex. this weekend to take on the Baylor Bears. UCLA then makes the short trip to Santa Barbara to take on the UCSB Gauchos on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

Oregon Ducks

  • Record: 4-0
  • NCBWA Rank: No. 5
  • Baseball America Rank: No. 14
  • Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 5
  • Composite Rank: No. 8

The Oregon Ducks traveled to Honolulu, Haw. and swept University of Hawaii in four straight games, outscoring the Rainbow Warriors 21-11.

Next up for the Ducks is a three-game home stand this weekend against Loyola Marymount and a Tuesday night contest hosting Portland.

Arizona Wildcats

  • cat baseRecord: 3-0
  • NCBWA Rank: No. 10
  • Baseball America Rank: No. 23
  • Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 15
  • Composite Rank: No. 16

The defending NCAA College World Series Champion Arizona Wildcats are not getting any respect from the polls. They swept their weekend series against Coppin State, scoring 43 runs in three games while only giving up 10.

Next up for the ‘Cats is a short two-game stand at Long Beach State on Tuesday and Wednesday, then back home for a three-game set hosting San Jose State.

The Dirtbags of Long Beach State are a perennially solid team and stole one of three last weekend from a Vanderbilt team that is ranked in the top five of all three polls.

Stanford Cardinal

  • Record: 1-2
  • NCBWA Rank: No. 14
  • Baseball America Rank: No. 15
  • Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 11
  • Composite Rank: No. 13.33

The Stanford Cardinal had a tough opening weekend in Houston. They lost two of three to the Rice Owls, being outscored 10-4 over the three games.

Rice jumped in all three rankings while the Cardinal took a tumble. The Owls are now ranked above Stanford in all three polls.

The Cardinal were scheduled to play the Cal Bears on Tuesday night, but the game has been postponed until Wednesday night due to rain. Stanford hosts Fresno State this weekend at the Sunken Diamond.

Arizona State Sun Devils

  • devil baseRecord: 2-1
  • NCBWA Rank: No. 22
  • Baseball America Rank: NR
  • Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 23
  • Composite Rank: No. 22.5

The Arizona State Sun Devils welcomed Bethune-Cookman over the weekend and got a little more than they bargained for from the Daytona Beach school. The Devils needed extra innings to win the season-opener and a late-inning rally fell short in the final game, losing 7-6.

Arizona State travels to Knoxville this weekend to take on the Volunteers in a three-game set. This will be a good test for the new Sun Devil squad that is replacing several players that were drafted by MLB teams.

 

 

California Golden Bears

  • Record: 3-0
  • NCBWA Rank: No. 34
  • Baseball America Rank: NR
  • Collegiate Baseball Rank: NR
  • Composite Rank: No. 34

The Cal Bears had an eventful opening weekend against the Michigan Wolverines. They needed extra innings to finish off the scrappy Wolverines in the first two games and nipped them 2-1 in the series finale.

The Bears will travel to Stanford on Wednesday to take on the Cardinal and then travel to Irvine for a four-game set against the Anteaters.

A Final Thought

In looking at all the ranked teams and which teams they will have to play in conference, it looks as if Oregon and Arizona State are the big winners with four of the six series against ranked teams at home while Oregon State and Arizona play four of the six on the road.

Here is the breakdown for the ranked teams.

Oregon State

  • Home vs. Arizona State and Cal
  • Travel to Arizona, UCLA, Stanford and Oregon
  • Two single games hosting Oregon

UCLA

  • Home vs. Cal, Oregon State and Arizona
  • Travel to Arizona State, Oregon and Stanford

CWS_LogoOregon

  • Home vs. Arizona, Stanford, UCLA and Oregon State
  • Travel to Arizona State and Cal
  • Two single games at Oregon State

Arizona

  • Home vs. Oregon State and Cal
  • Travel to Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and Arizona State
  • Two single games hosting Arizona State

Stanford

  • Home vs. Arizona, Oregon State and UCLA
  • Travel to Oregon, Arizona State and Cal
  • Two single games hosting Cal

Arizona State

  • Home vs. UCLA, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona
  • Travel to Oregon State and Cal
  • Two single games at Arizona

California

  • Home vs. Oregon, Arizona State and Stanford
  • Travel to UCLA, Arizona and Oregon State
  • Two single games at Stanford

This will be an interesting season to see how well the Pac-12 does in the regular season and more importantly in the postseason. It would be a shame to pit teams against each other in the Super Regionals as it would be great to see as many schools repping the Pac-12 as possible in Omaha.

Magic Johnson Is Building a Dodgers’ Dynasty for the Ages

USA Today Sports

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported to camp and spring training is beginning on Feb. 23, no team has done more than the Los Angeles Dodgers to improve their standing. They have spared no expense in signing the best free agents for 2013.

With action in the Los Angeles Dodgers spring training facility, Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., all seems right with the world. With most of the country buried under snow or near-freezing temperatures, the Dodgers’ pitching staff is ready to set the league on fire.

Here is a breakdown of not only one of the best rotations in Major League Baseball, but also a quality lineup of position players.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw

Magic Johnson and others in Guggenheim Baseball Management went on a shopping spree making Zack Greinke one of the highest-paid pitchers in the game, signing Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu and re-signing closer Brandon League.Greinke and Ryu will be great additions to a rotation that already includes ace Clayton Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in the National League.

They now have one of the deepest rotation in the majors with Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley and Aaron Harang.

Their bullpen is also strong with League, Kenley Jansen, Ronald Belisario and Javy Guerra. With any luck and run support, we won’t have to see much of the middle relievers and what we do see are solid holds.

The projected lineup looks to resemble an All-Star squad more than a single team’s day-in and day-out card. The outfield of Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier is going to be outstanding with an MVP and Gold Glove between them.

Crawford struggled a bit in Boston the past two seasons, but he will be much improved with the change of scenery as well as playing alongside two great players in Kemp and Ethier.

The infield is also impressive due to free agency with Adrian Gonzalez on first and Hanley Ramirez at shortstop. Gonzalez is a career .294 hitter that has hit over .300 the past two years.

hanley

Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez is a career .298 hitter and is only a couple years removed from his .342 hitting crown. His batting average improved in his time with the Dodgers over the past two seasons and he looks to keep it growing strong.

Second baseman Mark Ellis is entering his 10th season in the majors and is aging like a fine wine. His power has dropped off but he is still fielding well and maintaining a solid average. Luis Cruz fills out the infield at third base and is coming off his strongest year batting .297 in 2012.

Catcher A.J. Ellis will be behind the plate as the Dodgers’ everyday catcher after having a solid 2012 season. He played 133 games and knocked in 44 runs off 114 hits. He finished with 13 home runs and 52 RBI. Quality numbers from a quality catcher.

When you look not only at the starting lineup, but also the legion of eligible backups in Nick Punto, Dee Gordon, Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston, this Dodgers team will not only win their 12th National League West title, but will stop nothing short of their 22nd National League Pennant and their seventh World Series title.

Getting to Know the 2013 Sun Devil Baseball Squad

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Arizona State Baseball head coach Tim Esmay has a score to settle.

Entering his fourth year at the helm of one of the countries most storied programs and clear of NCAA sanctions, the Sun Devils have only two goals this season. Winning the Pac-12 and returning to Omaha. Both goals are lofty as Baseball America and ESPN both rank the Sun Devils as the No. 6 team in the Pac-12.

Esmay is entrenched in Arizona State history, an alumnus himself and assistant coach out of college, he was head coach at Utah before being lured back home and hired on as an assistant coach in 2005 under Pat Murphy.

This year’s crop of Sun Devil baseballers look to join the legions of former Sun Devils that have gone on to “The Show.” One-hundred-and-one, to be be exact, the third-most in of any college program.

Arizona State has won five National Championships, has 22 College World Series appearances and 35 postseason appearances, including 14 of the last 16 seasons. The Devils also boast four of the past six Pac-10 championships and have 50 straight 30-win seasons.

The season starts this weekend with the No. 20 Sun Devils hosting Bethune-Cookman, so let’s get to know some of the key members of the Arizona State baseball team.

Trevor Williams

  • trevorPosition: RHP
  • Class: Junior
  • Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

Entering his junior season, Trevor Williams is the ace on the Sun Devils’ pitching squad. Williams was a first team Pac-12 All-Conference selection and a Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger second team nod.

Williams led the conference with 12 victories, which was also tied for best in Division I. He finished the season with a 12-2 record, a 59-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio and an ERA of 2.05.

The All-American was a member of the USA National Collegiate Team and has garnered three preseason All-America honors. He has received first team recognition from Collegiate Baseball, and second team nods from Baseball America and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Max Rossiter

  • Position: C
  • Class: Senior
  • Hometown: Gilbert, Ariz.

The junior college transfer from Central Arizona College started 35 games behind the plate for the Devils and was second on the team with a .326 batting average. Max Rossiter tallied 22 runs on 45 hits with two home runs and 18 RBI.

His slugging percentage of .449 was fourth-best on the team as was his on-base percentage of 39.8. Rossiter had a 12-game hitting streak last year and a team-high four hits and four runs scored against Western Michigan.

He was named by Baseball America as the catcher with the best arm in college baseball.

Michael Benjamin

  • benjaminPosition: INF
  • Class: Junior
  • Hometown: Queen Creek, Ariz.

The son of Arizona State Hall of Fame member and assistant coach of the same name started 35 games last year at the hot corner but has the ability to play anywhere in the infield.

Michael Benjamin was third on the team in batting average with .322 and tallied 22 runs on 39 hits in 121 plate appearances. He totaled three home runs and 22 RBI while taking seven walks and striking out 21 times.

He was second on the team in on base percentage reaching 40.8 percent of the time and stole five bases on seven attempts.

James McDonald

  • Position: 2B/OF
  • Class: Junior
  • Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.

James McDonald started all 55 games games last year with the bulk of them coming out of left field—literally.

He started two games at second base in the 2012 season so it seems natural that he would be replacing outgoing second baseman Joey DeMichele.

McDonald finished the year second in the Pac-12 with 35 walks, but he also led the team with 35 strikeouts. He scored 29 runs on 54 hits and tallied 28 RBI.

His on-base percentage of 40.1 percent was third-best on the team, and was able to swipe five bases on eight attempts.

Trever Allen

  • treverPosition: OF/RHP
  • Class: RS Sophomore
  • Hometown: Tempe, Ariz.

Trever Allen is another hometown kid and one of four legacy players on the Sun Devils. Trever’s father, Jamie, was an infielder and pitcher and also a member of the 1977 National Championship team.

He started 37 games last year in right field and compiled 11 mutli-hit games and eight multi-RBI games. He finished with 21 runs on 41 hits in 147 at-bats.

He recorded 64 put-outs and had zero errors for a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

Nathaniel Causey

  • Position: DH/C
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Gilbert, Ariz.

The backup catcher and sometimes designated hitter will be moving into the DH role permanently and moonlighting as a catcher. Nate Causey started 23 games last year at DH and led the team in on-base percentage at 42.2.

His .288 batting average was sixth on the team, and he collected 13 runs and 23 hits in only 80 plate appearances; look for that number to increase exponentially.

Pitching Rotation

Adam McCreery

  • mccreeryPosition: LHP
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: LaVerne, Calif.

Adam McCreery played in five games last year and started two of them. He finished with a record of 2-0 with an ERA of 1.35. He allowed 12 hits and two earned runs in 13.1 innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 14-to-6. He was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft.

Darin Gillies

  • Position: RHP
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Hollister, Calif.

Darin Gillies made 13 appearances last year including 10 starts. He had a bit of shaky season with an ERA of 5.03, but let’s hope that was just freshman nerves. He finished with a record of 1-4 over 39.1 innings. He surrendered 24 runs, 22 of them earned, off of 46 hits.

If Gillies continues to struggle there is a stable of new pitchers that can step up and fill in for the right-hander.

Bullpen

Matt Dunbar

  • Position: LHP
  • Class: Senior
  • Hometown: Torrance, Calif.

Appearing in 23 games, including one start against Texas Tech, Matt Dunbar led the team with a 1.54 ERA, and only giving up 25 hits and eight runs, six earned, in 35.1 innings. He also finished with a 30-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Named to the preseason NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award watch list.

Ryan Burr

  • Position: RHP
  • Class: Freshman
  • Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Four-year letter-winner and team captain in his senior season. Two-time All-Colorado and All-State Aflac All-American, Rawlings First Team All-American and Louisville Slugger All-American. Listed by Baseball America as the No. 8 Top Newcomer.

Brett Lilek

  • Position: LHP
  • Class: Freshman
  • Hometown: South Holland, Ill.

Four-year letterman and team captain all four years at Marian Catholic. Earned All-State, All-Area and All-Conference honors. Listed by Baseball America as the No. 14 Top Newcomer.

Infielders

Drew Stankiewicz

  • stankiPosition: INF
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Gilbert, Ariz.

The son of major leaguer, Andy Stankiewicz, who played seven seasons in the league, ending his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Andy was an assistant for three years at ASU and is now head coach at nearby Grand Canyon University.

Drew played in 31 games last year, starting 20, and collected 18 hits on 68 at-bats. Look for Stankiewicz to fill the hole at shortstop vacated by Devon Marrero.

Rouric Bridgewater

  • Position: INF
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Pomona, Calif.

Bridgewater made 23 appearances last year with 10 starts, one of them being at first base. Look for Bridgewater to replace Abe Ruiz at first base going into the season. He finished with 52 at-bats, wherein he scored six runs and 14 hits.

Outfielders

Kasey Coffman

  • Position: OF
  • Class: Junior
  • Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.

Kasey Coffman appeared in 43 games last year, starting 39 of them. Twenty-two of the starts were in right field and 17 in left field. He scored 25 runs and collected 30 hits to go along with his 17 walks and 23 strikeouts. His on-base percentage of 38.0 wasn’t great, but he was able to snag 11 bases on 15 attempts.

Baseball America has also named Coffman as the best defensive outfielder with 68 put-outs and a fielding percentage of 97.2 percent.

Jake Peevyhouse

  • Position: OF
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.

Jake Peevyhouse will look to get his career off to a good start in the Sun Devil outfield. As a freshman, he only appeared in 14 games and started four of them. In his 21 at-bats, he collected two hits, four RBI, one walk and four strikeouts.

Moving Forward

asu baseWith a daunting Pac-12 Conference schedule that includes ranked teams in UCLA, Oregon, Arizona and Stanford at home and on the road at Oregon State, the Devils will look to their home-field advantage. They also take on top-ranked Arkansas in the Coca-Cola Classic on Feb. 28 and Mar. 2. If they can get by Arkansas, or at least split a pair, it will do wonders for their ranking.