(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
Three days. 40 rounds. 1,215 selections. The 2017 MLB Draft has come and gone and the Arizona State Sun Devils only had one player hear his name called, left-handed pitcher Connor Higgins
He was selected in the 35th round (no. 1064 overall) by the Texas Rangers.
ASU had a difficult season in 2017. The program’s 54-year streak of consecutive seasons 30-win seasons was snapped and ASU ended the season second to last in the Pac-12 standings with an overall record of 23-32 and a mere 8-22 record against the Pac-12.
While the team had an extremely tough season by ASU standards, they still had some solid talent that was on the draft board, though only Higgins was chosen.
Higgins, a hard-throwing lefty from Pennsylvania, had a good sophomore year year overall and a great finish to what started out as a rocky season. He had a 3.92 ERA to go along with a 3-2 record and a team-leading four saves in 2017.
Higgins wasn’t pitching effectively early on in the season and didn’t travel with the team to TCU. He worked hard with coach Tracy Smith to develop more of a breaking ball and to have more confidence to attack hitters.
Standing at 6-foot-5, Higgins has major league size and a fastball that ended the season consistently around 92-95 mph.
The Sun Devils had nine draft-eligible players including Higgins. Seniors Zach Cerbo and Eder Erives, juniors Eli Lingos, Ryan Hingst, Andrew Snow, Jake Godfrey, Taylor Lane and Grant Schneider were all available.
Andrew Shaps, who was dismissed from the team in May, went undrafted, which is somewhat surprising given that one scout saw Day 2 ability in him.
Had a MLB Draft expert tell me Andrew Shaps was a Day 2 prospect before off-field issues came into play. Still on the board. #ASU
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) June 14, 2017
Ryan Lillard and Jackson Willeford decided to step away from the program and neither were drafted.
ASU’s lone draft pick is the least the program has had in a draft since 1970 when second baseman Lenny Randle was the only Sun Devil selected.
The program did have seven ASU signees hear their names during the draft. The first ASU signee that came off the board was Brendan Murphy, a left-handed pitcher. Murphy was drafted by the Brewers in the fourth round with the 144th overall pick.
Murphy will have a decision to make regarding whether to come attend school in Tempe and learn to play college baseball at one of the most respected programs in the country or go straight to professional ball and try to make it there.
Two ASU shortstop commits, Jake Holmes and Gage Workman, went in the 11th and 14th rounds at 323rd and 414th overall, respectively.
ASU is hoping that, a season after having a great recruiting class decimated by the 2016 MLB Draft, they have some good fortune with their recruits coming to lead the next freshman class for the baseball team.