ASU Baseball 2024

AZCB34

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Season starts in just under two weeks. Yesterday, ASU baseball had an open house that included a 9 inning scrimmage game. It was such a nice day I went over to Muni and caught the game.
 
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AZCB34

AZCB34

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Some thoughts:

Lots of new faces. 32 to be exact which is massive turnover on the roster. Deep competition at positions it appears.

Small sample size but the hitters didn’t seem to strike out all that often. My perception is they were putting the ball in play and that applies pressure to the defense.

In the field, there are really only 4 returning regular starters so it will be interesting to see who gets the lions share of playing time.

Pitching is and will be the question this season. I felt there were too many walks and two poor throws to 1B trying to catch runners there led to wires and extra bases. The pitching on this team probably isn’t good enough to overcome errors like that.
 

Mainstreet

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It sounds like a lot of new players to turn the baseball program around, but if not now, when?

ASU used to be a destination, but apparently not anymore.
 
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AZCB34

AZCB34

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It sounds like a lot of new players to turn the baseball program around, but if not now, when?

ASU used to be a destination, but apparently not anymore.
The power in baseball has largely shifted to the SEC. They had all this football money they couldn’t spend so they decided to really push on baseball and they have been grabbing a bunch of west coast players. Is not that SEC was some doormat conference but they just decided they wanted to dominate. That was before NIL so now I’m guessing the SEC teams will move forward even more.

It’s been over 40 years since the last ASU natty. Like football, it will ultimately come down to an NIL program that can entice and keep the top players coming to ASU and I question the commitment of the fan base to deliver ASU a huge NIL push.

I would love to see AZ pass an NIL law similar to the Missouri one. I think it would help keep more homegrown players around. That doesn’t guarantee anything but it helps
 

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The power in baseball has largely shifted to the SEC. They had all this football money they couldn’t spend so they decided to really push on baseball and they have been grabbing a bunch of west coast players. Is not that SEC was some doormat conference but they just decided they wanted to dominate. That was before NIL so now I’m guessing the SEC teams will move forward even more.

It’s been over 40 years since the last ASU natty. Like football, it will ultimately come down to an NIL program that can entice and keep the top players coming to ASU and I question the commitment of the fan base to deliver ASU a huge NIL push.

I would love to see AZ pass an NIL law similar to the Missouri one. I think it would help keep more homegrown players around. That doesn’t guarantee anything but it helps

I'm not familiar with the Missouri law but I'm all for keeping homegrown talent.

It just seems like ASU should be further along under Willie Bloomquist, NIL or no NIL.

Maybe everything has a price tag but I like the aggressive nature Kenny Dillingham recruits. Maybe the professional model is not working.
 
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AZCB34

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Bloomquist took over a mess with ASU baseball and has made strides. Unfortunately, these turnarounds don’t normally happen overnight. This season i feel it is critical that they make a regional. They probably should have made it year but they were the first team out and it was due to RPI. Well, ASU Z has a very challenging noon conference schedule this year so RPI shouldn’t be an issue if ASU can consistently win this year.

This team will score runs in bunches the question is can the pitching hold up. I see a bunch of 10-8 kind of games which is not the best way to go through a season.

I don’t know all the specifics of the Missouri law but the gist of it is, a Missouri high school player can accept NIL but if they do they are committed to attending school in state. Missouri football has landed 2 five star recruits as a result of this where those players probably leave the state otherwise. I am not a fan of high school kids getting NIL but that is a trend gaining momentum. I think CA allows it with no in state commitment?
 

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IMO, baseball is about 80% pitching. This spells trouble unless ASU has the talent.
 

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It's certainly a different world today than it was in the 1970s and 1980s when ASU was flying high. As noted, money has been flowing to the SEC for years, with top-of-the-line facilities and now with NIL arrangements.

It will be interesting to see what Big 12 baseball is like (not this season, but the next one). TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and West Virginia seem to have good programs. The traditional powers Texas and Oklahoma will of course be leaving.
 
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AZCB34

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It's certainly a different world today than it was in the 1970s and 1980s when ASU was flying high. As noted, money has been flowing to the SEC for years, with top-of-the-line facilities and now with NIL arrangements.

It will be interesting to see what Big 12 baseball is like (not this season, but the next one). TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and West Virginia seem to have good programs. The traditional powers Texas and Oklahoma will of course be leaving.
ASU will get a tiny taste of Big12 play this season. They play one off games against KSU and TCU so maybe a tiny measuring stick. It’s too bad they aren’t three game series which removes some of the randomness of a single game. TCU is projected as the conference champ this year I believe.
 
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AZCB34

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IMO, baseball is about 80% pitching. This spells trouble unless ASU has the talent.
Based on what I’ve read, ASU may very well have the talent but so much of that is first year talent. Most of the rest of it is transfer talent. They basically lost every valuable arm last year to the draft/pros.

The one thing I’ve been resisting saying out loud is, I think next season is really the make or break year and so much of that depends on recruiting and the transfer portal trending towards the Devils not away from them. I don’t want to make a single excuse for this year and honestly expect them (hope?) they break the making the tournament dry spell.
 

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Based on what I’ve read, ASU may very well have the talent but so much of that is first year talent. Most of the rest of it is transfer talent. They basically lost every valuable arm last year to the draft/pros.

The one thing I’ve been resisting saying out loud is, I think next season is really the make or break year and so much of that depends on recruiting and the transfer portal trending towards the Devils not away from them. I don’t want to make a single excuse for this year and honestly expect them (hope?) they break the making the tournament dry spell.

I agree, this season is likely a make-or-break season for the baseball program.

ASU needs to find an AD that can salvage both the basketball and baseball programs.

Based on what I've seen, Kenny Dillingham was a good hire for the football program.
 
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AZCB34

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I agree, this season is likely a make-or-break season for the baseball program.

ASU needs to find an AD that can salvage both the basketball and baseball programs.

Based on what I've seen, Kenny Dillingham was a good hire for the football program.
I think (hope?) Willie is the right hire for baseball. I think he probably needs a different pitching coach than Sam Peraza. Sam isn’t terrible but he also hasn’t shown any real ability to elevate pitching talent. That is a problem as it relates to getting this program back on track.

The elephant in the room is, of course, you fire Peraza and what happens? Yup, a crap ton of pitchers hit the portal and the program is decimated. To make matters potentially worse, Peraza is listed as the Recruiting Coordinator although I am not sure how truly connected to that he really is.
 
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AZCB34

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Season starts tomorrow vs Santa Clara. On the surface, this appears to be a team scheduled to allow ASU to ease into the season but don’t be fooled. Santa Clara returns 8 of their top position players from last season and a good chunk of their pitching. To make matters even more difficult, Santa Clara was a tournament team last year and they knocked UA out of the tournament. Tricky opening series for the Devils.

The Devils noncon schedule last year really hurt their RPI and was one of the primary reasons they missed the tournament. Well, this year Bloomquist has built an incredibly difficult noncon schedule openly saying RPI will not be the reason they miss moving forward.

Sounds like Thomas Burns will be the Friday starter. He is a true freshman out of WI who hits about 95 with his fastball. The Devils have 5 preseason all PAC12 position players which is more than any other team.

The theme for this season will be, they should score a bunch but can the pitching hold up?
 

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ASU beats Santa Clara in opener 11-6.

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AZCB34

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ASU beats Santa Clara in opener 11-6.

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Game wasn’t as close as score would make you think. Burns is as advertised. Fastball topped off at 94 and it rained down to an offspeed pitch at 77. He had the hitters baffled the whole time. Lone blemish was a hitter guessing fastball I would imagine, got one and squared it up.

A couple of takeaways from last night:

- This team has an energy about it that wasn’t evident in first two Bloomquist seasons

- for the most part, the four P who threw last night didn’t allow a bunch of freebies. It wasn’t clean but last couple years the amount of walks given up were frustrating

- last couple of years, when ASU would grind out runs they would promptly give them back in the very next half inning. Not the case last night until the 8th when game was in control

Small sample size obviously but signs this team might be different are there
 

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ASU beats Santa Clara 14-13 today.

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ASU falls to Santa Clara 14-13.

Too bad the Sun Devils couldn't get the sweep. What a beautiful day for baseball.

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AZCB34

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The series is likely a precursor to what the overall season may be like. The ASU offense is going to rake. Top to bottom they are all tough outs. The pitching is going to be perilous essentially each and every game. There were a few standouts on the mound but not enough to get excited. Again, small sample size and adjustments can be made but the early results are spotty at best.

Santa Clara is no joke as evidenced by their offensive output. Their pitching is considered good too very good and ASU basically tortured all but one guy. Santa Clara will likely be in the mix to win a very competitive WCC championship.

Some additional thoughts from the weekend:

- The crowds at all the games felt larger than the last couple years. I wonder how much of that is the Ray Anderson effect. Sunday crowd was biggest of the three and what a beautiful day for baseball

- One encouraging sign on the mound was the ASU pitchers weren’t giving up a ton of walks. The issue wasn’t the number but the situational timing of the walks that were a problem

- Two true freshmen got the start in the middle infield and Ethan Mendoza, considered a highly prized recruit, had a simple 5-6 day. He did commit a pretty bad base running error which likely cost the Devils a run but overall a really nice outing for both players

- Isaiah Jackson came out of the gate just smoking the ball. Even though Sunday was not a good plate day for him, he did what he does best and robbed a dude of a HR.

Up next, a one game series at home versus a ranked Kansas State squad on Tuesday. Good test plus it is against our future conference foe
 
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AZCB34

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Devils beat ranked Kansas state last night. It was a much calmer night for the Devils bats and yet they still scored 9 runs. KSU threw their top pitchers and top bullpen guy. Their starter was a tricky sidearm lefty that gave the lefties in the ASU lineup issues but they waited it out and they were able to pounce.

ASU basically played a bullpen game with mixed results but they won the game. There were too many walks in this game…three more in this single game than the three combined games from the weekend. I rarely get after umpires calling balls and strikes because I know how hard that is but this guy last night was absolutely, totally and inarguably atrocious. The ASU pitchers were struggling but his floating, inconsistent and at times bagging strike zone exacerbated the situation.

A couple extra thoughts on last night’s game:

- A really good sized crowd last night. KSU fans travel well and that helped boost the attendance. Announced crowd was 2600+ but it sure felt like there were way over 3000. You want baseball that counts, in a spring training quality stadium, where the ball is flying all over the place? Check out an ASU game.

- Transfer SS Steven Ondina has got a serious glove in the field and really plays defense at a high level. He looks like a little kid out there and is light hitting but given how potent this offense is, the Devils can afford to trade some offense for sterling defense at SS.

Next up is a 4 game series versus Ohio State (I despise OSU) starting on Thursday night. Day games on the weekend. Seriously, get out there and watch this team. If nothing else the weather is due to be great and I promise you will see some crazy offense
 
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