#38 Arizona State Baseball Preview

Arizona State Sun Devils

Overall Rank: #38
Conference Rank: #6 Pac-12
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Arizona State’s baseball program had a strong season, but it came to an end sooner than many fans wanted. The Sun Devils weren’t upset in a Pac-12 postseason tournament, nor were they knocked out in the NCAA tournament. In fact, Arizona State never made it to the regional field. The 2012 season was the one Arizona State chose to miss postseason play due to violations that occurred under former coach Pat Murphy. Arizona State was sentenced to three years’ probation and a one-year postseason ban for overpayment of student-athletes in a work program and use of a recruiter not allowed by the NCAA, among other things. This is a new year, and Arizona State hopes to have a strong season and make the tournament this time.

2012: 36-20, 18-12
2012 Postseason: No postseason (NCAA sanctions)
Coach: Tim Esmay

Field Players:
Three players with great contribution to last year’s team are gone, including shortstop Deven Marrero (38 runs, 62 hits, .284 batting average), infielder Joey DeMichele (.336 BA, 47 runs, 73 hits) and first baseman Abe Ruiz (13 home runs, 53 runs batted in). That is a lot of power and average to replace, but there are some strong hitters coming back. Infielder Michael Benjamin batted .322 with 22 RBI a year ago, and catcher Max Rossiter hit .326 with 45 hits. James McDonald had 54 hits and 28 RBI with a .284 batting average a year ago. This trio will have to pick up the slack to replace all that hitting lost from 2012, and they need to find more speed to build a firmer foundation.

Departures here include Brady Rodgers (10-3 record, 2.27 earned run average and 79 strikeouts in 115 innings pitched), Jake Barrett (1.62 ERA, 11 saves) and Robert Ravago (4-1, 2.56). The three, all juniors, were among nine players taken in the 2012 Major League Baseball first-year player draft. There is some help returning, however, including righty standout Trevor Williams (12-2, 2.09, 13 walks in 109.2 innings) and lefties Adam McCreery (2-0, 1.32) and Matthew Dunbar (30 strikeouts and 1.54 ERA). Williams is the only pitcher designed to work over a long haul, although McCreery and Dunbar could see more action with the departures of Rodgers, Barrett and Ravago.

Who to Watch:
A trio of freshmen pitchers, including lefties Ryan Kellogg and Brent Lilek and right-hander Ryan Burr, come in as first-year players to help bolster the rotation. All three were drafted by MLB but chose to go to college, so they will get some seasoning and likely be drafted again when eligible.

Final Projection:
It could be an up-and-down season for the Sun Devils. Some publications have Arizona State ranked as high as the top 20, but reality tells a different story. The effect of the sanctions, plus the departure of several key players before their senior years, could impact the Arizona State program in 2013. An early schedule that includes Bethune-Cookman, Tennessee, Gonzaga, Arkansas, Pacific and Long Beach State will help get the Sun Devils ready for the rigors of a Pac-12 schedule. Arizona State is no stranger to the tournament or to strong baseball, so another season of 30 to 35 victories should be easy to accomplish. If the offense gels and the young pitching staff comes together, it could even be a 35-40 win campaign. Right now, Arizona State just wants to put the past behind it and put the action solely back on the field.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: James McDonald, IF, 190
Hits: James McDonald, IF, 54
Home Runs: Michael Benjamin, IF, 3; Trevor Allen, OF/P, 3
RBIs: James McDonald, IF, 28
Runs: James McDonald, IF, 29
Stolen Bases: Kasey Coffman, OF, 11

Wins: Trevor Williams, P, 12
Innings Pitched: Trevor Williams, P, 109.2
Strikeouts: Trevor Williams, P, 59
Saves: None

Madness 2013 MLB Draft Rankings:
#43 Trevor Williams

Madness 2013 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#55 Ryan Burr
#96 Brett Lilek


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