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ASU Baseball: Individual player preview

(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)

Jordan Aboites IF/RHP JR Long Beach, CA
Aboites was ASU’s most reliable reliever last year and figures to be in the setup role once again for the Sun Devils. In 30 appearances, he was 5-3 with a 3.30 ERA, had one save and struck out over one hitter per inning. Aboites started the year at shortstop but made the move to pitcher in March. He was named “Mr. Fireman,” which is awarded to the team’s top relief pitcher. Standing at just 5-foot-5, Aboites can be compared to short-statured major leaguer Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros because of his ability to play second base as well.

Trever Allen OF RS SR Tempe, AZ R/R
Allen is one of the top power hitters on the Sun Devils, as evidenced by his team-leading five home runs last season. He was also second on the team with a .456 slugging percentage. He figures to slot in as the Sun Devils starting right fielder, and his arm is a bonafide weapon as he tallied 10 outfield assists last season and has 18 in his college career. Allen was particularly good on the road last season, hitting all of his home runs there and driving in all but one of his RBI away from Packard Stadium. It will be interesting to see his splits at home and on the road with the Sun Devils moving to Phoenix Muni this year.

Tucker Baca LHP FR Suwanee, GA
A member of ASU’s 2014 recruiting class, Baca could make an impact right away with the Sun Devils. His arsenal is described as “Fastball to 88 mph, lots of arm side run and sink as expected from slot, has ability to spot his fastball and fill up the lower part of the zone. Good change up with similar action to fastball, curveball has consistent spin and sweeping break,” by Perfect Game. As a freshman, his role is unknown, but expect Baca to contribute in some capacity.

Christopher Beall OF JR Phoenix, AZ
Beall is a versatile player who figures to the majority of starts at first base this season. Last year he started 30 games, including 23 in left field and seven at designated hitter. He was tied for 3rd on the team in batting average, hitting .305, but had just five extra base hits in 118 at bats. Beall was also named ASU’s Breakout Player of the Year.

Joey Bielek IF SR Scottsdale, AZ
A transfer from Cincinnati and Paradise Valley Community College, Bielek enters his second season at ASU. The corner infielder started seven games at first base and six at third base last season. He was towards the bottom of the team in batting average, hitting just .213 in 47 at bats with one RBI. At the very least, Bielek will add leadership and experience to the squad, and should also be a backup in the infield.

Hever Bueno RHP SO Mesa, AZ
As a freshman, Bueno was one of the biggest weapons out of the bullpen for the Sun Devils. A 17th-round pick by the Yankees out of high school, Bueno did not pitch until his senior year. Nevertheless, he still presents a fastball in the low 90s. He struggled with his control, walking 14 in 16 innings, but did not allow a run in 15 of his 19 appearances. His college career is a work in progress, but Bueno has fantastic potential, and showed flashes of it last year.

Ryan Burr RHP JR Highlands Ranch, CO
Burr is viewed as one of the top Major League prospects on the team. He has worked primarily out of the bullpen, and figures to slot in as the Sun Devils closer this year after leading the team with 12 saves last season. At the beginning of last year, Burr was a starter, but was removed from the role after posting a 6.57 ERA in 3 starts. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 224 pounds, Burr has an intimidating frame that goes along with his fantastic arsenal of pitches. ASU is very high on Burr’s potential, as Baseball America said “The Sun Devils compare him to recent No. 1 overall picks Gerrit Cole and Mark Appel for his mid-to-high-90s heater, plus slider and solid change.” Drawing comparisons to former top prospects such as Cole and Appel is rare for anyone, so Burr will have high expectations for this season.

Zach Cerbo C SO Montville, NJ
Cerbo saw minimal playing time in his freshman year. He plays exclusively behind the plate and will have to back up Brian Serven this season. In his two at bats last season, Cerbo batted .500. His one hit was an RBI triple against Baylor that helped the Sun Devils defeat the Bears. Cerbo may not be a regular starter, but he should still find playing time during the season.

Dalton DiNatale IF JR Parkland, FL
Expect DiNatale to be the starting third baseman for the Sun Devils. The junior hit .294 with three long balls last season and was second on the team with 36 RBI. He is a career .297 hitter in his two seasons as a Sun Devil. He moved from first base to third base before his sophomore year and should most likely be hitting either 5th or 6th in the Sun Devils lineup.

Eder Erives RHP SO El Paso, TX
Erives was third among pitchers in relief appearances for ASU last year, behind just Aboites and Burr. He was as reliable as they come, posting a very respectable 2.82 ERA in 22.1 IP.  He is a three-pitch pitcher who features a fastball, curveball and changeup. His command is top-notch as he walked just four hitters as a freshman. Erives established himself well during his freshman year and should be one of Tracy Smith’s top late-inning options this season.

Coltin Gerhart OF FR Murrieta, CA
One of the most unique players on the team, Gerhart is a two-sport athlete, as he is a member of the football team in addition to manning the outfield for the Sun Devils. A backup to Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici at quarterback this past season, Gerhart didn’t join the team full-time until the football season concluded. The brother of Jacksonville Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart, Coltin faces some disadvantages when it comes to offseason preparation, but has performed exceptionally in practices and scrimmages. The outfielder may not be able to contribute right away because of the starting talent in the outfield, but should find a way to help out the team both this season and in the future.

Darin Gillies RHP SR Hollister, CA
The primary Sunday starter for ASU last season, Gillies is a candidate to start on the same day this season. He is one of just four seniors on the roster and will serve as a mentor for some of the underclassmen. Gillies posted a 4.90 ERA in 14 starts, including a complete game against Stanford and six quality starts in total. He will likely join Ryan Kellogg and Brett Lilek as the primary starters in the Sun Devils’ three-man rotation.

David Graybill IF/OF/RHP JR Phoenix, AZ
Graybill is one of the more versatile players on Arizona State’s roster, as he can be used in the infield, outfield and on the mound. He did not pitch often last season, although he pitched during the Maroon and Gold World Series, but got six starts at first base and four in right field. Graybill hit .227 with one home run and six RBI in 44 at-bats. His intimidating frame (6-foot-5, 244 lbs) makes him an instant power threat and he should see some playing time at first base.

David Greer IF SO Scottsdale, AZ R/R
After a solid freshman year, Greer figures to be one of the key contributors off the bench for the Sun Devils. Last season he hit .222 with 6 RBI, making the majority of his starts at second base. Greer should see some playing time off the bench, and may even start a few games in his second season as a Sun Devil.

Ryan Hingst RHP FR El Paso, TX
Hingst is one of the many exciting but raw members of this year’s freshman class for the Sun Devils. He was named a second team high school All-American by Perfect Game after a strong senior season, and has drawn rave early-season reviews from head coach Tracy Smith.

Trevor Horn RHP FR Scottsdale, AZ
Much like Hingst, it is unknown at this point as to the extent of how much Horn will be used. What is known is that is that he was named a Division I All-State in Arizona, among other accolades. Horn is a bit raw for the time being, but as a freshman he still has a lot of time to develop.

Ryan Kellogg LHP JR Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Last season, Kellogg was the Saturday starter, and he figures to fill the same role this season. Kellogg, along with Brett Lilek, are the two “must-see” starting pitchers on the staff and he should be selected in the MLB Draft in June. He put together a very solid season last year, with a 3.76 ERA and a 8-3 record. His 8 wins led the team. Kellogg has already been named to the first team Pac-12 in each of his first two seasons and it wouldn’t be surprising if he were awarded the same honor after his third season.

Brett Lilek LHP JR South Holland, IL
Being the Friday night starter gives Lilek the unofficial title of “ace.” While it is simply a title, there is no denying that Lilek is very deserving of being the No. 1 starter on the Sun Devils staff. He posted a 2.68 ERA last season while making 15 starts. One of his noteworthy stats was that he went at least seven innings in five starts, which contributed to his 84 IP on the season, which was second on the team behind Kellogg. Lilek was a 37th-round pick by the Mariners out of high school, and he will undoubtedly be a higher pick after this season.

Ryan Lillard IF FR Urbandale, IA
Another young position player in the mix is Lillard, a 6-foot-1 shortstop and third baseman who is one of the more hyped freshman this season. He was a 30th-round selection by the Kansas City Royals, but opted to come to ASU instead after a senior season that caused him to undergo Tommy John surgery. He was also named a third team preseason high school All-American by Perfect Game before last year, who describes him as having a “pull, power approach that has evolved over last year.”

Eli Lingos LHP FR Temecula, CA
A freshman left-hander, Lingos also comes into his college career with intrigue and uncertainty. He figures to take a back-seat in his first season, but like most other freshman, he will get playing time as his career progresses. Tracy Smith is a main reason as to why Lingos chose ASU, as Indiana was his original choice, but Smith’s switch in schools led to him changing his commitment.

Seth Martinez RHP SO Peoria, AZ
If you were to rank the Sun Devils based on upside, Martinez would be near the top of the list. The projected weekday starter is incredibly versatile on the hill, as he can start or serve in long relief, a role that could really come in handy at some point in the season. Last season, he posted a respectable 4.32 ERA with 34 strikeouts during his freshman year. ASU plays ten weekday games this season, and you can expect Martinez to start the majority of them if he doesn’t land the Sunday starter spot.

Eric Melbostad RHP JR Scottsdale, AZ
A perennial set-up man, Melbostad saw action in relief in 19 games last season as a sophomore, posting a 4.29 ERA. After making his way into the set-up role in the middle of last season, former pitching coach Ken Knutson said “He’s a jack-of-all-trades. He can come in and throw long or short. We can use him in a lot of different ways.”

Cullen O’Dwyer OF JR Albuquerque, NM
O’Dwyer is a junior who saw action in seven games last year, with right field being his primary position. He managed one hit in eight at-bats, with the one hit being a double. Being more of a veteran this season, expect O’Dwyer to get more extensive playing time than he did in his first two seasons.

Ryan Peep IF/OF FR Chandler, AZ
A local product from about 30 minutes outside of Tempe, Peep brings a strong skill set to the Sun Devils. Shortly after Peep’s commitment, Knutson had this to say about him: “Ryan is an extremely gifted athlete with all the tools a baseball player can have. He has great power at the plate, but can also really run. As an outfielder, he has one of the best arms in Arizona, and as he continues to develop he has a chance to be a really special player.”

Jake Peevyhouse OF SR Phoenix, AZ
As one of the few seniors on the team, Peevyhouse will be looked to as one of the leaders. He was among the leaders last year in RBI with 22 to go along with his .290 average. Expect Peevyhouse to primarily see time in left field, while also getting occasional looks in right field, and starting nearly every day.

Grant Schneider RHP FR Austin, TX
Schneider is another piece of a very strong recruiting class for the Sun Devils. He saw some action in the Maroon and Gold scrimmage, and he was effective in the game he pitched in. After signing with the Sun Devils, Knutson said “Grant is another national get for us this year. He is a projectable right-handed pitcher with a good frame for pitching. His fastball is now getting up into the low 90s, and with his arm strength and actions, the sky is the limit for him.”

Brian Serven C SO Palm Desert, CA
Serven got extensive playing time last season behind the plate as a freshman (50 games, 45 starts). He took advantage of the playing time by driving in 27 runs over the course of the season. Serven is just the third true freshman in the past 20 years to start the majority of the season. He should follow up a strong freshman season and be the primary starter at catcher.

Johnny Sewald OF JR Las Vegas, NV
Sewald is the definition of a table-setter. The expected leadoff hitter for the Sun Devils led the team in OBP (.428) and stolen bases (16) last year, while hitting for a .305 average–tops among returning players. Sewald started 52 games, all in center field, and earned accolades last season such as Pac-12 all-defensive team and an honorable mention for all-conference. A scrappy ballplayer, Sewald is the type of player every team could use.

Andrew Shaps LHP FR Paradise Valley, AZ
A two-way player in high school, Shaps figures to primarily be a pitcher for the Sun Devils. Perfect Game USA hints that he could turn into a lefty specialist by describing Shaps as having a “simple repeatable delivery on the mound, low 3/4’s arm slot, creates angle to the plate, will be tough on left handed hitters.”

Andrew Snow IF FR Woodland, CA
Another freshman, Snow has a unique claim to fame in that he is the nephew of former Sun Devil and current Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. His dad is Phil Snow, who was the defensive coordinator for the Sun Devils football team from 1995-2000. The family history definitely played a role in Snow’s decision to become a Sun Devil.

Reagan Todd LHP FR Centennial, CO
A tall left-hander, Todd received some valuable playing time as the starter in game three of the Maroon and Gold World Series. He was a second team Perfect Game All-American in high school. Todd may see some action this season, but figures to get more playing time starting his sophomore year.

Colby Woodmansee IF SO Phoenix, AZ
“Woody,” as he is affectionately called by his teammates, is a powerful shortstop who will be the starter at that spot in 2015. Although he only hit .200 last season, it was as a true freshman, so Woodmansee has a lot of room to grow. He will likely hit seventh or ninth in the lineup, but should be a weapon no matter where he is placed by coach Smith.

R.J. Ybarra C JR Riverside, CA
Along with Allen and Sewald, Ybarra is considered one of the premier hitters for the Sun Devils. A strong power threat, Ybarra was second on the team with four long balls and led the team with 47 RBI, which was also good for third in the Pac-12. His numbers were so impressive that he earned Offensive MVP for the team at the end of the season. A definite cleanup hitter, he will get most of his starts at the designated hitter position while also filling in for Serven behind the plate when needed.

 

Projected Lineup

CF Johnny Sewald

2B Jordan Aboites

RF Trever Allen

DH R.J. Ybarra

LF Jake Peevyhouse

3B Dalton Dinatale

C Brian Serven

1B Chris Beall

SS Colby Woodmansee

Projected Key Pitchers
Fri. Brett Lilek
Sat. Ryan Kellogg
Sun. Darrin Gillies/Seth Martinez

SU Hever Bueno
SU Jordan Aboites
CL Ryan Burr

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Jacob Janower
Jacob Janower is a junior sports journalism student at Arizona State. You can follow him on Twitter @JanowerJacob or contact him by email jjanower@gmail.com

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