#39 Arizona State Baseball 2016 Preview

Arizona State Sun Devils
Overall Rank: #39
Conference Rank: #6 Pac-12
Arizona State Baseball 2016 Preview 
Arizona State had an up and down 2015 season. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, they ended on a down note. After losing their last two games of the regular season at USC, ASU struggled in the Fullerton Regional. After beating Clemson in their opener, they lost to the host team in a thrilling 3-2 14 inning game. However, it was tough to rebound from that loss, both physically and mentally and the Sun Devils were eliminated the next day by Pepperdine and never got another shot at Cal State Fullerton. But still it was a 35 win season with18 wins in Pac-12 play. That is not easy to do in the Pac-12 and that is what this group will be shooting for despite losing much of their pitching staff.
2015: 35-23, 18-12
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tracy Smith
Field Players:
Coach Tracy Smith has plenty of experience back from a unit that ranked 39th in the nation in batting average. Infielders Colby Woodmansee, David Greer and Andrew Snow all batted at least .300 last year. Woodmansee is the most dangerous player of the group, knocking out five homeruns and driving in a team high 44 runs. Catcher Brian Serven hovered around the .300 mark most of last season and ended the year with a .294 average, six homeruns and 34 RBIs. RJ Ybarra is another solid power hitter who has the ability to break the .300 average plateau.
Arizona State loses two of their regular starters. Replacing Brett Lilek and Ryan Kellogg will not be easy. Lilek went just 4-2 last season, but he boasted a solid 3.20 ERA. Kellogg was the workhorse for the Sun Devils, pitching 115.0 innings. That leaves Seth Martinez as the most experienced returning starter. Martinez went 2-2 last season in 15 starts and tallied 82.2 innings pitched. He is not much of a strikeout pitcher, but he is a solid starter to build around. Also gone is closer Ryan Burr, who went 8-2 and tallied 14 saves. The pitching staff needs reworked and it will be interesting to see who emerges in what roles. Senior Eric Melbostad, who had three saves last season, is the likely new leader of the bullpen.
Who to Watch:
Last year’s freshmen pitchers need to step up. The two most likely candidates are Eli Lingos and Ryan Hingst. Lingos did not start a game as a freshman, but he did pitch 19.2 innings and looked solid in relief. Hingst earned four mid-week starts, but ended up with a 5.79 ERA. Still, that experience is important for this team as they look for a couple starters to join Martinez in the weekend rotation.
Final Projection:
The good news is Coach Smith has plenty of bats at his disposal and a roster full of pretty talented pitchers, albeit inexperienced. The question is whether or not those inexperienced pitchers are ready to step up. It could take a while, but Arizona State will find a solid rotation. In the meantime, the hitting will be good enough to keep the Sun Devils competitive and in a position to return to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Colby Woodmansee, IF, 240
Hits: Colby Woodmansee, IF, 74
Home Runs: Brian Serven, C, 6
RBIs: Colby Woodmansee, IF, 44
Runs: Colby Woodmansee, IF, 36
Stolen Bases: David Greer, IF, 4
Wins: Jordan Aboites, P, 3; Ryan Hingst, P, 3
Innings Pitched: Seth Martinez, P, 82.2
Strikeouts: Seth Martinez, P, 58
Saves: None