Tucked in-between Arizona State’s first two season series’ was a learning opportunity, an exhibition as it was marked down on the schedule between the Sun Devils and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arizona State is young, its bullpen is drastically inexperienced. Through four games, the Sun Devil coaching staff only had the chance to look at and evaluate a handful of the arms. For some of ASU’s pitchers, Wednesday was the first time they had thrown a collegiate pitch to a batter who wasn’t wearing maroon and gold.
Arizona State head coach Tracy “Skip” Smith has talked at length about being cautiously optimistic about some of the younger guys because he hadn’t seen it in a real game. Playing the Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields in a game that had no implications served as the perfect test kitchen to see how each would react.
“The benefit to me is being able to get some guys some work that aren’t playing for you,” Smith said after the Devils 8-2 exhibition loss.
Sun Devil pitching coach Mike Cather was almost at the mound longer than some of the pitchers that he was taking out. Eight different ASU pitchers trotted out to the spring training mound, and none lasted longer than two innings.
Ryan Hingst, Dellan Raish, Colby Davis, Drake Davis, Connor Higgins, Brady Corrigan, Grant Schneider and Chaz Montoya can all tell their kids they pitched against a Major League team. The former four names, too, were all making their first appearances on he mound this season.
And after their performances, Smith didn’t seem to have any regrets of that being the case.
“I don’t think we had the progress or the jumps on some guys on the pitching side,” Smith said. “What we saw today is kind of what they’ve been doing in practice, why we’ve been holding them out. But you want to give guys opportunities to go out there and do it when the lights are on.”
Despite the fact that the D-backs didn’t push any of their starters onto the field Wednesday, the Major League hitters had no problem getting on base against the young ASU bullpen.
Through the first six innings of what ended up being only a seven inning contest, the Sun Devil pitchers allowed more walks (8) than hits (7).
Perhaps it was the nerves of playing against a MLB team, but the Sun Devil bullpen didn’t have their best day. The unit’s pieces are still foggy and will no-doubt be fluctuating in the coming weeks.