With the season just two weeks away, Arizona State baseball is taking advantage of its six practices and scrimmages a week to help finalize the depth charts.
Redshirt sophomore Trevor Allen and junior Kasey Coffman are the only two returning Sun Devil outfielders who saw consistent playing time. Andrew Aplin batted lead-off for the Sun Devils last season, and his departure gives the freshmen class a chance to steal a starting spot this spring. Aplin's offensive production will be tough to replace considering he played every game, batted .313, lead the team with 52 runs scored, and was second on the team with 16 doubles and 27 walks drawn.
There are three true freshman outfielders on the roster and many of them will be competing for a regular utility job in the long grass.
At Wednesday night's scrimmage, the teams were split up in what appeared to be the potential starters on one team and their backups on the other. Freshmen outfielders Christopher Beall, Johnny Sewald, and Cullen O'Dwyer rounded out the outfield from left to right.
Allen and Coffman played alongside sophomore Jake Peevyhouse. Peevyhouse only started four games last season and drove in four runs, but he may be the favorite to start, especially since all three of them can play any position in the outfield.
Lets take a look at how the depth chart is shaping up two weeks before the season officially starts.
Left Field: Jake Peevyhouse (Soph.) vs. Christopher Beall (Fr.)
Last season, left field was predominately occupied by James McDonald. But the .284 hitter is planning on moving to second base in 2013 so it opens the door for a new face beneath the Hubie Brooks retired number seven.
Peevyhouse swung a subpar .095 and appeared in just 14 games last season. Though he didn't get enough opportunities to prove himself at bat, the Phoenix lefty was flawless in the field.
"Jake played really well this fall and kind of proved that he wanted to be that starting guy. As of right now, Jake (Peevyhouse) went right out there and played really well and from myself I think he definitely deserved it," Allen said.
Chris Beall is another local outfielder who is waiting in the wings and he has a valid case if we look off his senior year numbers. He accumulated a .420 batting average with 50 RBI, nine homeruns. 13 doubles and four triples at Brophy Prep. It takes time to acclimate to the college ranks, but Beall could take this battle to the last day of practice.
Center Field: Kasey Coffman (Jr.) vs. Trevor Allen (RS-Soph.) vs. Johnny Sewald (Fr.)
"For right now we have Kasey Coffman playing center. I'm not really sure where that kind of goes for the season. It's either between Kasey and I for playing center. As of the fall and as of right now, Kasey's been playing center for the most part," Allen said.
It does make sense to have Coffman in center because he is a veteran speedster. He is the only returning Sun Devil to swipe more than ten bags last season. Coupled with his 97 percent fielding percentage, managing the outfield seems like the likely and regular future for Coffman.
There is one thing hindering Coffman from having a fantastic season. He has yet to swing the aluminum well. Compared to his teammates with at least ten starts, Coffman held the worst batting average. Allen, on the other hand is more comfortable at the plate and he expressed that he would prefer to play up the middle, but he will do whatever it takes for his team to win.
"I definitely prefer center because that's where I played growing up, but I played last year in right. I don't mind where I play. I could play right, center, or left as long as I'm helping out," Allen mentioned.
It looks like this position is all but locked up. Even if Allen starts the season in centerfield, Coffman would more than likely keep his starting spot in the outfield. That's not a great sign for the speedy Johnny Sewald, but it gives ASU a centerfielder of the future.
Sewald is from Las Vegas, Nevada and is a little undersized (5'11, 155lbs) to start immediately in collegiate baseball. The four-year letterman won the state championship all four years in high school and was selected in the 34th round by the Baltimore Orioles. He could become a favorite for fans to watch considering he stole 98 career bases in high school and was clocked running a 6.5 60-yard dash. If you need a comparison, that's the same speed as AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout.
It looks like a backup roll for Sewald is likely with Allen and Coffman ahead of him in the depth chart, but there is certainly a lot of talent for coach Esmay to choose from.
Right Field: Trevor Allen (RS-soph.) vs. Cullen O'Dwyer (Fr.)
Though it has been more common for freshmen to play immediately, Allen seems to be in control of running duties in right field. O'Dwyer makes for a more than capable backup, but all three freshmen may have to wait their turn.
O'Dwyer was a First-Team All-State for his high school out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Not only was he drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 39th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but he also hit above .500 and belted six homeruns with a wood bat during his senior year. This teenager can flat out hit the ball so ASU fans could see O'Dwyer stealing a few starts this season playing in one of the corners.
We are going with experience again at this position and right now it is Allen's position to lose. He hit just below .280 and drove in 25 runs. Last season, he had a team best 12-game hitting streak and eight multi-RBI games. Like Peevyhouse, Allen was perfect in the field in the 43 games he saw action.
"Coming into college from high school, most of our guys on our team are the go-to guy and the best player on their high school team. But in every other team you play on and summer ball, everything changes and every single guy is just as good as you if not better than you. Honestly, the college game is so much faster than high school and even club baseball," Allen said.
Allen understands the speed of things in college because he redshirted his freshman year and went so far as to say redshirting was "probably the best decision" he has made at ASU.
There is still enough time for one of the freshmen to make a splash in the outfield, but it would appear the starting three could be some combination of Peevyhouse, Coffman and Allen.
Check out our entire season preview series with analysis from Sun Devil players