Willie Bloomquist talks NIL, parity in college baseball and objectives for ASU

Feb 21, 2024, 6:59 AM | Updated: 8:43 am

Arizona State Sun Devils baseball head coach Willie Bloomquist. (Twitter photo/@ASU_Baseball)...

Arizona State Sun Devils baseball head coach Willie Bloomquist. (Twitter photo/@ASU_Baseball)

(Twitter photo/@ASU_Baseball)

With more parity in college baseball than ever, programs not accustomed to the spotlight are more frequently knocking off the best teams in the country. The additions of the increased friction in the transfer portal and NIL impact have brought drastic changes to college baseball like it has football and basketball.

“We’re in a new era,” Arizona State baseball coach Willie Bloomquist told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “It’s very difficult to get to the top and then sustain that for a period of time. I think we are growing, we’re getting better, but we still have a lot of work to do.

“We still have to get better with this ever-changing environment that we’re in. We’re starting to figure out this NIL stuff. We have to evolve there and retain our guys.”

Bloomquist expressed that there are more players than ever who play at the college level, and that leads to the parity.

“Anybody can beat anyone on any given day,” Bloomquist said.

ASU lost two major pieces of last year’s team to the transfer portal with infielder and .314 hitter Luke Hill leaving for Ole Miss, while Will Rogers headed up north to Michigan.

Bloomquist said that some schools already have a “truckload of NIL Stuff” set up, and it has caused ASU’s recruiting process to be a little different.

Bloomquist and his staff have focused more on recruiting high schoolers, starting them on the team young and focusing on development.

This, however, can backfire as high schoolers have minor league options and can go professional more often than not.

“It makes a recruiter’s head spin,” Bloomquist said.

ASU also lost a bulk of its 2023 rotation and bullpen to the MLB Draft, which forces the Sun Devils to start underclassmen as a result.

“The timing of the major league draft is after the portal closes, so you don’t know who you’re losing,” Bloomquist said. “We have to get insurance, we have to overrecruit and get guys just in case we lose some in the draft. That happened this year when we lost every arm we had.”

Nonetheless, ASU baseball had a rousing start to their season over the weekend, wrapping their first series of the year behind a 2-1 mark.

The series against Santa Clara featured 71 runs in the three games played, with ASU scoring double-digit runs in each game.

“It was entertaining for the fans,” Bloomquist said. “That was great, but not for the coaches and Sammy (Peraza) our pitching coach. We’re buying stock in Tums. It was a fun weekend.”

Pitcher Thomas Burns was the first true freshman to start on opening day since 2006. He threw 64 pitches across five innings, tossing seven strikeouts and only allowing one run in his debut.

Sophomore outfielder Isaiah Jackson was one of the many stars in the Sun Devil lineup this weekend, totaling 10 RBIs and two home runs.

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Willie Bloomquist talks NIL, parity in college baseball and objectives for ASU