The Sun Devils held their first media day since opening the 2013 season.
The common themes of today were youth and the Sun Devils’ 2010 postseason ban. Perfect Game ranked the Sun Devils’ recruiting class third in the nation. The team has made sure that these “young bucks,” as head coach Tim Esmay referred to them, would fit right in.
“They’re meshing real well with us. We have taken them under our wing,” said ace pitcher Trevor Williams on the new recruits. “We have had good leaders in the past and we wanted to make them the leaders in the next two or three years.”
The Sun Devils do not see their youth as a weakness. They are going to need everyone to step up, no matter how old they are. “When is comes down to it, we are going to need everyone to win a National Championship,” said catcher Max Rossiter. “It doesn’t matter if they’re a freshmen or not…because when you’re on that field, we are gonna need you.”
Despite being so young and losing ten players to last year’s MLB Draft, the Sun Devils said that their team chemistry is one of their strengths. “Every year you’re going to have talent at Arizona State that’s given,” Rossiter said. “But it’s about how you put it together and our team chemistry is strong on and off the field.”
Pitcher Alex Blackford said that the team put extra importance on chemistry for this upcoming season. The freshmen have made the battles for positions more critical as well. The position battles have made the returning players more hungry for their spot in the line up and have elevated their play. It’s not only the players who see the chemistry paying off, their skipper sees it too.
Head coach Tim Esmay has said besides having great leaders like Rossiter, Blackford and Williams back, he is pleased that his team is a close-knit group. “Besides maybe Trevor Williams, this years team may not have that can’t miss first round draft pick, but when Arizona State has had really good years, we have had a really good team,” Esmay said.
Esmay feels that the pitching staff will be tested early. The Sun Devils have to replace last year’s Friday night starter Brady Rodgers and closer Jake Barrett. They are looking for the young guys to help fill those gaps.
“We are going to need all of them to develop some type of niche on the team this year because I know they’ll help the strength of the program,” Esmay said.
The big question on everyone in college baseball mind is how will the Sun Devils respond to the lifting of the post-season ban?
Last year, Arizona State had a postseason ban placed on the baseball program for one year; preventing the team to advance to a College World Series. When asked about last season Esmay said that, “It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do while being involved with the program. To tell the guys in November that no matter what you do, you’re not gonna get the opportunity to go to postseason.”
To make the NCAA sanctions that much more painful for the Sun Devil faithful, the University of Arizona Wildcats won the College World Series. Rossiter felt there is unfinished business with the Wildcats. “It was really hard for myself to go down there to Tucson and have a series like that then watch them on TV and win it all,” The starting catcher said.
“I think it’s a new chapter for ASU baseball. Now that it’s in our past we can finally move and be the 2013 Sun Devil baseball team that starts the new life for Arizona State baseball,” Williams said.
The Sun Devils play their season opener against Bethune-Cookman in Tempe on February 15.