Jan. 18, 2004
TEMPE, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) -- In the recent college baseball preview edition that debuted on BaseballAmerica.com last week, several Arizona State Sun Devil Baseball players earned preseason accolades.
Junior shortstop Dustin Pedroia is projected as the Pac-10 Player of the Year and junior outfielder Jeff Larish is rated as the conference's top prospect for the 2004 MLB Draft. Pedroia and Larish have both earned numerous preseason All-America awards, including a first-team mention for Larish by Baseball America and a third-team pick for Pedroia.
In addition, Pedroia (Woodland, Calif.) was featured in a lengthy feature story that will be available to the public when the college preview hits newsstands in the next week. Larish (Tempe, Ariz.) joins Pedroia and newcomer closer Jason Urquidez (9-0, 1.89 ERA at Central Arizona College last year) on the projected all-conference team.
The national publication annually makes its predictions for the upcoming season, spearheaded by national college baseball beat writer John Manuel. Manuel and the BA staff picked ASU to finish third in the conference behind defending Pac-10 champion Stanford and in-state rival Arizona. ASU returns 12 letterwinners from the 2003 squad that finished 54-14 and earned a No. 7 national ranking, but features only two returning pitchers (Averill and Brett Bordes). The Devils are among six Pac-10 teams that the publication predicts will make the 64-team NCAA Tournament field (Arizona, ASU, California, USC, Stanford, Washington).
While Larish earned the top prospect billing and is labeled by the MLB Scouting Bureau as the No. 3 college prospect in the nation, Pedroia ranked as the No. 6 pro prospect in the league. Freshman center fielder Colin Curtis (Issaquah, Wash.) was listed No. 4 on the top newcomers to watch in the Pac-10 this year.
With the help of conference coaches the publication also annually publishes a "Best Tools" list. Pedroia was listed as the top defensive shortstop and sophomore left-handed pitcher Erik Averill (Orange, Calif.) was voted as having the pitcher with the best control. Averill went 8-2 with a 3.66 ERA to earn freshman All-America honors last year.
The Sun Devils are ranked in all four preseason polls (No. 7 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 10 by ESPN/Sports Weekly, No. 11 by NCBWA and No. 18 by Baseball America) to extend their consecutive weeks streak in the national polls to 79. ASU opens the 2004 campaign in less than three weeks with a three-game series against perennial national power Florida State (Feb. 6-8) at Packard Stadium. ASU is schedule to play 40 of the 56-game regular-season schedule in the state of Arizona, including 33 games at Packard Stadium. ASU will also renew its non-conference series against Arizona, playing a pair of single games on Feb. 24 and April 12. ASU has won 12 of the last 15 games against the Wildcats, including a series sweep last year. For ticket information please contact the ASU Ticket Office at (480) 965-2381.
Baseball America Preseason All-Americans: Jeff Larish - 1st team Dustin Pedroia - 3rd team
Baseball America Top Pac-10 Newcomers: Colin Curtis - No. 4