The puzzle pieces didn’t fall into place effortlessly for Willie Bloomquist after the program’s incumbent hitting and pitching coaches left for SEC jobs. Nevertheless, the first-time collegiate coach introduced his first full coaching staff on Monday.
He commented on what he looked for in the hirings of Sam Peraza, Mike Goff, Bill Mueller and Travis Buck.
“Trust, first and foremost. Commitment to the program. Wanting to be here. Those things are very important to me,” Bloomquist said. “Communication and experience. Knowing all that together, what’s going to be best for developing these young men that are here and giving them the best opportunity for us as a program to win? Not only that but to develop them to the point that when they are finished with Arizona State that they’re able to go on and play after here if that’s what they choose to do...
“But I think when you look at this entirety of the coaching staff with the experience that we have not only at the collegiate level but also the professional level and playing at the highest level and coaching at the highest level, the young men that are coming in here are going to get better. They’re going to learn how to play the game the right way and be taught properly and to me that’s a big selling point of our program.”
Bloomquist will lean on Sam Peraza, who will be coming with the most experience at the collegiate level as a coach, as the program’s new pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. The former San Diego State associate head coach and pitching coach brings nearly a decade of coaching experience at the Division I.
Peraza’s hands will be full as well as recruiting coordinator. Bloomquist mentioned that the 2021 MLB Draft — where five Arizona State Sun Devils and four signees were selected — have opened some unexpected holes in the future plans. However, Peraza has a plan and a lot of it has to do with winning over the hometown kids.
“We need to get the right guy. We need to take our time, evaluate the right way,” Pearza said. “And we need to win the Valley. That’s an important part...I want to talk to all the high school coaches, all the travel ball coaches here in our Valley and make sure we win our backyard.”
Travis Buck also brings recent collegiate coaching experience from his time at Boise State, a quality that is lacking from the resumes of most of the staff. Buck will serve as a volunteer assistant and help the program because similar to Bloomquist he wants to see it return to its former prominence.
“That’s a part that really excited me coming down here...Having them lean on and geting my thoughts on things, there’s value into the things I bring,” Buck said. “I was thrown into the fire and build a program (Boise State) from the ground up.”
Mike Goff and Bill Mueller come into Arizona State with a ton of MLB experience. Goff will handle a lot including infield and outfield duties. Mueller, the former batting champ, will be the hitting coach and work with a lot of returnees at the plate.
Goff mentioned the interesting point that unlike the professional league, he’s excited that he gets to be a part of picking the players. He also wants to use his experience at the big league level to help prepare the players for that level of play and the “grind” that comes with it.
“You have to still prepare these kids for when they go to the next level of what they’re getting into. Most college kids have no idea when they get to the professional baseball, there’s no longer time constraints to how long they can practice...Our job is to teach them to grind...It’s going to be intense, it’s going to be difficult.”
Mueller gets to work with a group of position players that were a part of one of the youngest cores from college baseball last season. As Goff also mentioned, Mueller wants to not rely heavily on the long ball and scrap runs together if need be.
“There’s a lot of talent here with the offense,” Mueller said. “It’s a matter of maintaining, building and progressing the offense. We want to be very well-round player on offense...Tt’s not going to be just waiting for that three-run homer. In any situation we’ll be able to complete and be unselfish as possible.”
While Mueller won’t have his hand on recruiting, he knows that the history of the program can recruit itself, but it all starts with winning.
“It’s Arizona State. It’s almost like you’re part of a big league team,” Mueller said. “This is a special place with the history. It’s a place you want to play...As far as you get someone here, that starts with (wins). It’s a big part of a new movement. Along with the reputation, when you get wins to connect with that it’ll hopefully be a destination higher on people’s list.”
The coaches brought on to work with Bloomquist had a lot of good things to say about their new boss. For Goff, who worked with Bloomquist as a player when he came through the Seattle Mariners organization spoke to having a renewed fire for his position after 35 years of coaching experience.
“We’ve always remained very close. Getting this opportunity to comeback with him and see him get this program back to where it belongs is a true honor,” Goff said. “The tables were turning, now he’s going to be the boss...I feel like I have a new lease on life right now being able to do this again.”
Buck met Bloomquist back on his recruiting trip when he came to Arizona State. Once he heard that Bloomquist was taking over the program he just wanted to be a part of it.
“I didn’t care what my title is, I don’t know what it is, but just being a part of the tradition and coming back home,” Buck said. “I jumped at the bit and come down here as soon as possible.”
For fans, the words Peraza spoke about Bloomquist probably mean the most as he tries to return Arizona State baseball back toward where the faithful wishes it to be. He told a story about seeing Bloomquist and the staff talk to a recent signee.
“Hearing coach Bloomquist and the entire staff speak to him about their experiences at ASU and the vision they have for the program, it gave me chills,” Peraza said. “It got me fired up, I was ready to go out there and I wanted to put the uniform on right there myself. He did a great job with those guys and you can see that it’s real.”