The 2014 season will mark the end of an era for one of the most storied collegiate baseball programs in the nation.
The Arizona State Sun Devils will play this year in their on-campus home, Packard Stadium, before moving their operation to Phoenix Municipal Stadium in 2015, ending a 40-year run at the stadium.
Head coach Tim Esmay, who is entering his fifth season as ASU’s head coach, believes Sun Devil faithful will see a good product on Bobby Winkles Field in 2014.
“I think (the program) is in a really good spot,” Esmay told Doug and Wolf during Newsmakers Week on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “We feel good about our guys, we’ve got some young kids — our recruiting the last couple years, we’re back where we needed to be. We got through some tough times and I feel we’re back and rolling.”
The Sun Devils, by their own standards, had a down year in 2013, going 37-22-1, finishing tied for fourth in the Pac-12 and being eliminated in the NCAA Regionals by Cal State Fullerton. But Esmay feels like his team is on a good path to return to former glory.
“We’re back into being in rhythm as far as what we’re doing and as far as having the right kids in the program,” he said. “We’re definitely getting a lot stronger on the mound — credit goes to Ken Knutson, our pitching coach. “We’re getting a lot more kids interested, as far as pitching goes, to come to Arizona State.”
Sophomore Ryan Burr, who was the team’s closer in 2013, is projected to be the Friday night starter for the Sun Devils. The 19-year-old right-hander went 4-2 with a 2.20 ERA in his first year as a collegian. He’ll be followed in the rotation by sophomore Canadian lefty Ryan Kellogg, who went 11-1 in 2013.
“This is going to be a team that’s going to play well,” Esmay said. “They’re going to play together. They’re going to play an exciting brand of baseball and we’re looking forward to another great season.”
The Sun Devils are ranked in every preseason poll — their highest ranking is #19 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
The regular season opens Friday with a three-game series against Baylor.