TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State University head baseball coach Tracy Smith has added Ben Greenspan and Brandon Higelin to his staff at ASU, Smith announced Wednesday.
Greenspan’s duties will include working with the Sun Devils’ offense and catchers, as well recruiting coordinator, and Higelin will serve as the pitching coach. Both coaches worked under Smith at Indiana University.
Greenspan spent six seasons as an assistant coach at IU, including the past year as recruiting coordinator, and worked extensively with the team’s catchers and hitters. The Hoosiers’ offense ranked in the top 25 in the nation in batting average, slugging percentage, total hits and extra-base hits in 2014.
“In addition to being a top-notch person, Ben is a talented recruiter and a knowledgeable coach,” coach Smith said. “He played for me and coached with me over the past eight years, so he knows exactly the type of players that excel in our system. I love the enthusiasm he brings to his job every day and he has a real passion for mentoring catchers and working with the team’s offense. In fact, he was so enthusiastic about the chance to join the staff at ASU that I was barely able to get the offer out of my mouth before he was already packed and ready to hit the recruiting trail. It would be an understatement to say that Ben is excited to move to Tempe with his wife, Janine, and join the ASU family.”
Greenspan mentored some of the most prolific hitters in IU program history, including two-time All-American catcher Kyle Schwarber, current White Sox catcher Josh Phegley, and 2010 Big Ten Player of the Year Alex Dickerson. He also played a large role in developing talent at IU as 11 of his position players were selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, including five in the top five rounds.
Schwarber, who was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, was a 2013 First Team All-American and was named the best catcher in the country by Perfect Game and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Dickerson won the 2010 Big Ten Triple Crown after he batted .419 with 24 homeruns and 75 RBI. Greenspan’s additional hitting protégés include 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Sam Travis, two-time All-American Dustin DeMuth and Major League Baseball draft picks Micah Johnson, Michael Earley, Ethan Wilson, Jake Dunnings and Evan Crawford.
Greenspan played for two seasons under coach Smith at IU, and was a Hoosier team captain and Academic All-Big Ten performer in 2007. He spent two years at the University of Connecticut as a catcher and first baseman before joining the IU program. He earned a bachelor's degree in Sport Marketing and Management and a master's degree in Sport Administration from Indiana University.
Greenspan is from West Point, N.Y., and his father, Rick, played baseball at the University of Maryland and served as Director of Athletics for Illinois State, Army, Indiana and Rice.
Higelin joined IU at the start of the 2013-14 academic year and promptly molded the pitching staff into one of the most consistent in the nation. The Hoosiers put together a 2.33 team ERA in 2014, seventh lowest in the nation and the lowest in IU program history since 1968, and had a 2.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a conference-best seven shutouts.
“’Higgy” grew up and played collegiate baseball in California, so he probably knows far better than the rest of us on staff the influence and meaning ASU Baseball holds west of the Mississippi,” coach Smith said. “Through his time as a pitching instructor, he has worked with several pitchers that have gone on to pitch and have success in the Pac-12 Conference. I know there are some who may look at his resume and point out the fact that he doesn’t have years of coaching experience at the college level, but I will tell you ‘Higgy’ has put in his 10,000 hours (and then some) working with and developing some of the top high school, collegiate and professional arms in Southern California. I have no doubts that our student-athletes are going to not only learn from him, but love playing for him as well.”
Two of Higelin’s pitchers were selected in the 2014 MLB Draft, including Joey DeNato, who put together the best season of his record-setting career at IU in 2014. He went 13-1 with a 1.82 ERA and led the team with 81 strikeouts, and set single season school records in innings pitched (109.1) and wins. He became just the third pitcher in school history to earn All-America honors and ended his time in Bloomington, Ind., as the school’s all-time career leader in wins (37), strikeouts (297) and innings pitched (369.1).
Prior to his time at IU, Higelin served as Field Manager of the Battle Creek Bombers in the Northwoods League from 2012-13 and was the pitching coach during the Bombers league championship season in 2011. He also has extensive experience as a private pitching instructor with Division-I collegiate and minor league players in California.
He played collegiately at Cal State-Los Angeles and was a 28th round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2005. He played four seasons of professional ball, including a Midwest League All-Star campaign in 2006.
Higelin is from Glendale, Calif., and earned a Psychology degree from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio.