While all eyes are on this side this week of the PAC-12 football season, Tracy Smith and Arizona State baseball staff are preparing for a 2021 season that will feature a cast with many unfamiliar faces.
Make a good first impression
Smith praised a number of players who have stood out in the autumn practice so far. Newcomers Kai Murphy and Joe Lampe in particular have spotted the sixth-year skipper.
“He’s really fast, probably our fastest guy on the team,” Smith said of redshirt novice Joe Lampe. “He has played all over the infield and has seen some time on the outfield as well”
Kai Murphy, son of legendary Sun Devil coach Pat Murphy, has also made his mark on the coaching staff.
“We thought he would come in here like a pitcher,” said coach Michael Earley. “Then he sent me a video of him hitting during the season, and I thought, ‘This guy can really hit.’ “”
The Oregon State transfer has earned some reps in addition to his pitching work.
Fill the void
One thing that was made clear by the staff is that it is impossible to replace the production of Spencer Torkelson. The man who has the task of taking on the first basic tasks is 5th year senior transfer Connor Davis.
“You just can not completely replace such a guy,” Smith said of Torkelson. “But (Davis) has been a critical addition.”
“Conor can hit it almost as far as Tork from a raw power perspective, just not that often,” Earley said. “I was honest with the team, I told them I do not see anyone beating 20 home runs. The crime will to a greater extent be a Swiss army knife this year. ”
Drew Swift returns to anchor the crime, and novice Jack Moss has made himself known during the limited autumn practice. For a program known for scoring many races, the Sun Devils need to get creative to live up to that reputation.
On the Bump
While there was a lot of turnover among position players, the pitching staff will contain much of the same cast that we saw in the abbreviated 2020 campaign.
“We have a great team, a lot of guys have taken the next step with their stuff,” pitch coach Jason Kelly said. “(Erik) Tolman has gained some momentum, and Justin Fall has really refined his sons.”
One of the strengths of last year’s pitch staff was the bullpen, especially the flame throw closer to RJ Dabovich. Dabovich was taken by the Giants in the draft, but Kelly is encouraged by what he has seen so far out of his potential replacements.
“At best we are four or five boys with five saves each,” he said. “There’s a lot of competition right now.”
Although the first pitch is still more than three months away, it’s clear that in 2021 the Sun Devils will be chewing a bit to get started. After 2020 was cut with ASU ranked among the top 10, this group will surely be hungry to do a deep post-season run.