ASU's national title hopes took a severe blow when coach Pat Murphy revealed that left hander Josh Spence will likely not return to the mound this season and may have already thrown his last pitch for the Sun Devils. He has a torn tendon in his pitching hand and while surgery isn't needed, he will likely be out for the rest of the year.
Murph predicted that Spence will likely be a high pick in the June MLB draft and is unlikely to return to ASU, as he already spent 2 years at junior college and is eligible this season.
I emailed Baseball America editor John Manuel asking about Spence's draft prospects and he indicated that while he likes Spence's makeup, he has doubts about how well he projects at the next level due to his low velocity, topping out in the mid 80s. So I suppose there is a chance that he could get drafted lower than he wants and could come back to ASU.
Of course, it's not like he's going to start throwing any harder with an extra year in college, so he may just figure he wants to start his pro career and start drawing a paycheck rather than risk further injury.
ASU is still capable of making it to Omaha, especially if they draw one of the top 8 national seeds and get to play at Packard through the postseason. But this young team would struggle to have the pitching depth to keep advancing, especially if they ever drop into a loser's bracket. Hopefully guys like Seth Blair and Jason Franzblau can step up and carry the Devils.