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ASU Baseball: Benson Signs with Blue Jays, ASU pitching staff left thin

Not a lot of pitching coming back

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

When Arizona State lost three of their top pitchers in February, the expectation was that each would rehab, and return in 2022 for the Sun Devils.

A full season and a head coaching change later, and it’s clear that won’t be the case. Cooper Benson, a redshirt freshman left hander and projected center piece of the 2021 rotation, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday after being selected in the 17th round earlier this month.

With 2021 set to be his redshirt freshman season, Benson was named the Friday night starter for the Sun Devils a week before the season. He would log just seven innings. After a head coaching change at ASU, Benson was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 17th round. He joins teammate Erik Tolman in signing professionally, leaving first-year head coach Willie Bloomquist with a thin roster of arms heading into 2022.

Benson’s time in Tempe will be defined by what ifs. His freshman season was cut short by Covid-19 in March of 2020, and his supposed “burst onto the scene” 2021 was derailed by injury. It was well known that Benson had a good relationship with former pitching coach Jason Kelly — who left for the same position at LSU — which probably influenced his decision to not return to Tempe.

Along with Benson and Tolman, fellow pitchers Tyler Thornton, Justin Fall and shortstop Drew Swift were taken as well. While Arizona State retained its youthful core during the coaching shit, the 2022 Sun Devils will feature many new starters, especially on the bump.