Willie Bloomquist’s freshman season at the helm of Sun Devil Baseball did not go as planned in 2021, as the Arizona State alum saw his club outlasted and outplayed in a misery-filled 26-31 campaign. While the team success for ASU wasn’t there in 2021, some promising storylines did take some spotlight as a possible “light at the end of the tunnel” outlook.
As we begin the “Four To Flourish” series for this offseason, the conversation of who could be the next Sun Devil great on the diamond begins and ends with first-year standout, Ryan Campos.
The freshman catcher from nearby Mesa was one of the only positives in a next-to-disastrous season for baseball in Tempe. As the no. 11 recruit from the state and no. 500 overall, the local product was brought into ASU with the hope that he could compete for the starting job with sophomore Nate Baez.
And boy, did Campos give him quite the competition.
Continuing to do what he does best, Campos hit nearly everything in sight in his 45 games (43 starts) as a freshman. Not known as a power hitter, Campos is old school with the bat by swinging for contact as his team-high .347 batting average suggests to go along with another squad best .430 on-base percentage.
In today’s age of baseball with advanced metrics being considered as heavily as they’ve ever been, Campos surely wowed the forward-thinking minds of the game with consistent hard-hit balls in play and very few unproductive at-bats, striking out just 24 times in 171 plate appearances.
The one area where some polish could be used for Campos comes on the defensive side. Baserunners ran rather freely against the freshman’s arm as 36 stolen bases allowed (most coming late in the season) to just 7 thrown out is quite the red flag for such a coveted position on the field. While being a quality Division I backstop takes time, these numbers could force Willie Bloomquist’s hand in exploring a possible position change with the emergence of Nate Baez, rather than waiting around for a defensive ace behind the plate.
Despite the questions of Campos’s performance defensively, the offensive output is surely something to rave about for now.
Arizona State’s Ryan Campos is HOSING runners in his first college start at catcher— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) February 20, 2022
Campos’s phenomenal debut season as a Sun Devil did not go unrecognized on the national landscape, as the backstop earned Freshman-All American honors from the NCBWA while being a consistent starter in the middle of the ASU lineup. With offensive threats in Joe Lampe, Sean McLain, Conor Davis and possibly Ethan Long being touted as prospects in the MLB Draft in July, the kid from Mesa is primed to be the next premier bat in one of the nation’s most storied baseball programs.