The potential 2021 Arizona State draft class wasn’t going to be as star studded as the 2020 class, but the the final day of the 2021 Draft saw four Arizona State pitchers come off the board.
Left-handed pitcher Erik Tolman was selected in the 14th round by the Washington Nationals in the MLB Draft.
Tolman, a redshirt junior, only threw 13.1 innings this past season after he was one of the Arizona State arms that needed Tommy John surgery. As a freshman, he really came onto the stage throwing 48 innings with a 3.38 ERA. Before the season was cut short in 2020, Tolman flourished in the starting rotation having a 2.50 ERA in 18 innings and a 30-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
There will need to be a decision made by Tolman. He has two years left of college eligibility to use. His stock could he higher as his pitching arsenal is impressive, but coming off Tommy John he’d need to bet on himself if he were to return to Arizona State. If Tolman were to return he’d come into a smaller role to begin before likely heading back into the starting rotation.
Meanwhile, the 17th round became the Arizona State round. Justin Fall, Cooper Benson and Tyler Thornton were all picked by various clubs.
Fall, who was healthy throughout the year, was the first selection heading to the Miami Marlins. The redshirt senior took over one of the main starting roles after multiple injuries last season. The expectations set for him when he arrived to Arizona State were probably never achieved after ERAs of 5.68 in 2020 and 4.09 in 2021, but got the job done.
Benson was a draft eligible sophomore. He had a lot of fans about being a high pick coming into the 2021 season before having Tommy John surgery. Despite the Toronto Blue Jays taking Benson 512th overall, it seems more likely Benson tries to use his three more years of college eligibility to raise his stock back up and return from injury.
The Cleveland Indians took Tyler Thornton four picks after Benson. The St. Mary’s transfer filled the role of the Friday night starter last season and his 5.54 ERA is a bit inflated after he was asked to give longer outings to provide relief to the bullpen. Thornton has two years of remaining eligibility and seems more likely to return than not based on that.
Willie Bloomquist certainly would get a boost if Tolman, Benson and Thornton all returned to Tempe. However, at the end of the day they’re all young men who are so close to life-long dreams being achieved. We’ll have any updates on their statuses as they come available.