The Arizona State baseball team is dealing with a pot full of NCAA sanctions and will not have a chance to play in the post-season this year. But that apparently hasn’t scared away some of the nation’s top recruits that have been considering taking up residence in Tempe.
Baseball America puts out a Top 100 high school prospects list each year. ASU’s Class of 2013 tied UCLA and Miami for the most recruits on that list. As the early signing period rolled around this week, each school inked seven in the Top 100.
Almost half of those Top 100 signing with ASU were from high schools in Arizona.
“I cannot say enough about the effort that my coaching staff has put in to sign this outstanding class,” said head coach, Tim Esmay, who has been running the program since the end of 2009 when he was given the interim title following the departure of Pat Murphy, who resigned as an NCAA investigation into the program got underway.
An appeal failed and the post-season ban will take effect for the coming season, accompanied by other penalties that included scholarship reductions and additional recruiting limitations.
But, despite having the uncertainties of the NCAA penalties hanging over their heads for the past two seasons, the Sun Devils won the Pac-10 championship in Esmay’s first year and were ranked No. 2 in the nation as the regular season concluded.
Last year, they posted a 39-16 mark in the regular season, finished with a No. 10 national ranking, and rolled through regionals before being stopped short of their 23rd trip to the College World Series when Texas beat them in the super regional.
The success of the recruiting efforts for the 2013 season is a sure sign that the program will soon overcome any damages from the NCAA penalties. That class has been ranked among the top five nationally by at least one major recruiting service.
It includes 22 signees, 21 from high schools across the country and one from a junior college. Eight states are represented in the group.
And more than a third of the 2013 class were plucked right from high schools throughout Arizona.
The local grads include a trio of pitchers: Eric Melbostad from Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Tony Blanford from Boulder Creek High School in Anthem, and Will Ethington from Mountain View High School in Mesa.
Brophy Prep in Phoenix and Hamilton High in Chandler will each have a couple of their graduates in that class. Brophy’s duo includes another pitcher in David Graybill, who also plays the outfield, and outfielder Chris Beall. Mitch Nay, an infielder, will be coming straight from Hamilton, while Jorge Flores is a shortstop that played at Central Arizona College after graduating from Hamilton.
Nick Diamond, a pitcher/outfielder from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, rounds out the group.
Three of the local products fall into the Top 100 category: Nay (No. 55), Blanford (No. 73) and Ethington (No. 75).
“Coach (Travis) Jewett has made a strong commitment to recruit, not only nationally, but also in the state of Arizona,” added Esmay, “and this class demonstrates that perfectly.”
(Photo: ASU Athletics / Jason Weis)