There is so much emphasis on this year's freshmen class heading into the spring season because they will play a critical spot in ASU's depth charts. Of the 14 freshmen, five of them will add talent to the Sun Devils bullpen.
Though none of the pitchers are set to start the season as a weekend starter and no freshman fielder is projected to win a starting spot this weekend, there are still plenty of options for head coach Tim Esmay to choose from.
Even though many of these players are not "starters," they still comprise one of the more dangerous Sun Devil recruiting classes in recent years. Lets take a look at five freshmen who could make an immediate impact during 2013-14 season.The Sun Devils are loaded with dominant recruits, but here are the five you may see the fastest.
1. LHP Brett Lilek
The 6-foot-4 lefty opted to pass on his offer to play in the Major Leagues so he could be a Sun Devil. In high school, he lettered for four years in baseball and earned All-State honors in Illinois.
As a senior, he led his team with a 0.00 ERA in the playoffs en route to a state championship. The reason he will play a crucial role in the Sun Devil pitching staff is because he has an explosive fastball that can consistently touch the mid-90s. One of his most devastating pitches is his slider. He worked on it his senior year and it helped him rack up nearly two strikeouts per inning.
He has learned to let the defense play behind him and pitch to hit his spots. What many people may not know about Lilek is that he has grandma's initials engraved in his glove. So far, the new leather has given him a 3-3 record with a 2.80 ERA and a partial scholarship to Arizona State University.
2. RHP Ryan Burr
This dominant righty was a two-time All-State and All-American in Colorado. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers on the third day of the draft, but he chose to play at least three year with the Sun Devils.
Baby-face Burr may not look intimidating by his physical appearance, though his 6-foot-4 frame makes up for that by putting up numbers on the mound. He played for Team USA U16 team and he struck out over 95 batters in both his junior and senior years.
This kid can throw some gas as he was clocked as high as 96 MPH on the radar, but he has great control and posted a 1.70 ERA throughout his last two years of high school. Because he throws so hard, the Sun Devils are looking to use him as a middle relief right-hander to start the season. As his collegiate career progresses, we should expect to see Burr somewhere in the weekend rotation.
3. RHP/1B David Graybill
Graybill is a local player out of Phoenix who went to school at Brophey Prep. He spurned the Los Angeles Dodgers and is set to become a third-generation Sun Devil. His grandfather, Dave Graybill Sr. is one of only seven three-sport letterman in ASU school history. His father also played for Arizona State in the early 1980s.
Yet another Sun Devil freshmen who earned All-State and All-American honors and he was captain for two years at Brophey. The intriguing part about Graybill is that he is both a bullpen-caliber pitcher and a slugging first baseman. He has the numbers in high school to support him as well.
During his senior season, we was used predominately as a relief pitcher who eats up innings and he had a 2.25 ERA, holding opponents to a .182 batting average. The one area of concern on the mound is that he has as many walks as strikeouts (33K, 32BB) during his senior campaign so he still needs to develop some control and keep his arm healthy in Tempe.
On the diamond, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound monster hit for .463 average with 12 homeruns, 31 runs batted in and 17 doubles in 2012. Graybill made the move from outfield to first base because he will more than likely be the primary backup to Rouric Bridgewater thanks to his raw power and it allows him to focus more on his pitching. Graybill could be a player to watch in both aspects of the game.
4. OF Christopher Beall
Let's not look to far as Beall played high school baseball with Graybill. The outfielder should be a platoon player for both Trevor Allen and Jake Peevyhouse. It is common for the Sun Devils to recruit some of the best prospects in the state and Graybill and Beall are not the only ones.
Beall has a nice, compact swing and he is can hit both sides of the field. In the Alumni game, fans got a sneak peak of Beall's abilities as he hit two doubles and drove in four runs.
He letter three years in high school and finished with a strong offensive year (.420 average, 31 runs, 9 home runs, 50 RBI, 13 doubles, 4 triples). He has some wheels as well so he fits Esmay's mold in terms of having aggressive base runners. It will be exciting to watch Beall grow this season and he could end up playing as much as Bridgewater did when he was a freshman (close to 50 AB).
5. 3B/1B Dalton DiNatale
The native from Parkland, Florida is the only Sun Devil on this roster who is east of the Mississippi River. He will be the primary backup of third baseman Michael Benjamin and he has some eye-popping numbers in high school.
DiNatale has numerous accolades from Perfect Game and Under Armour and he was an All-American like many in this freshmen class. He hit .340 last year and led the league in runs scored (47), stolen bases (40) and on-base percentage (.512). He can run a 6.7 second 60 yard dash which is good for plus speed at the collegiate level and he has some pop in his bat.
During his junior year, he hit three back-to-back-to-back homeruns and he also gets the job done in the classroom. He graduated with a 4.09 GPA and was named the Principal's All-American for all four year.
DiNatale will also be an option to play first base if coach Esmay wants to give him some extra playing time.