ASU Baseball: Preview of the Sun Devils’ Infield in 2019

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 08: Arizona State Sun Devils mascot "Sparky the Sun Devil " performs during the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Sun Devil Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 08: Arizona State Sun Devils mascot "Sparky the Sun Devil " performs during the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Sun Devil Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

With the season almost upon us, ASU baseball has a few options to run in the infield, including returnees, a redshirt junior, and a freshman, as well as four catchers.

Let’s start with the young guy.

Marc Lidd, Freshman

Lidd, on top of posting a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine, was the No. 12 third baseman in the state of California. He appeared at the plate 114 times in last year’s full 30 games, batting .453 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs. His OPS was an impressive 1.368. Lidd is an offensive powerhouse at third base and instant offense once he adjusts to the college game.

Alika Williams, Sophomore

Alika Williams got the start in 54 of 55 games last year, playing games at both shortstop and second base. His offensive stats are solid, hitting .280 with an OBP of .333. He and infielder Drew Swift combined for 30 double plays as well, showing decently on the defensive end. The glaring issue in Williams’s game, as it is with most Sun Devil infielders, is errors. Williams had nine errors last season, tied for third-highest on the team. If Williams can shore up that issue, his game would be incredibly well-rounded.

Drew Swift, Sophomore

While Williams played one middle infield position, it was more than likely that Drew Swift would play the other. The two, as listed above, combined for 30 double plays, but Swift ended the year with 12 errors, the highest total on the team. Swift’s offensive stats don’t pop off the page, but his 24 walks in 154 at bats shows that drawing walks is a strong aspect of his game.

Gage Workman, Sophomore

Workman, a Freshman All-American for Collegiate Baseball News last season, slugged .466 while

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not hitting into a double play all year. He hit seven triples en route to a .276 average, but struck out 28 times, second only to Gage Canning. His fielding percentage was second-lowest among infielders as well, tallying nine errors across 50 games. He’ll look to improve upon a below-average defensive showing last season but carry on as a good option at the plate.

Spencer Torkelson, Sophomore

What else can be said about Spencer Torkelson that hasn’t already been said? He had a country-leading 25 home runs, .754 slugging percentage, and numerous first-team and All-American honors. Smith said he’d “look at” placing Torkelson in the two-hole spot early on in the season, where he can further anchor the Sun Devil offense with his explosive bat. His fielding was just as solid, with a .991 fielding percentage and only two errors on the year while playing all 55 games. He also only struck out 15 times in 114 at-bats. Torkelson is ASU’s best player, and should be considered so unanimously. Look for a second monster season from him.

Cole Austin, Redshirt Junior

Before sitting out 2018 due to transfer rules, the former West Virginia infielder hit .302 for the Mountaineers. He started in 58 games, had seven home runs, and overall looks like an offensive-minded player for the Devils. He had 11 errors in 58 games, a problem that will be largely detrimental to an error-prone Sun Devil infield. He also struck out 37 times, more than any Sun Devil last year. Austin could be very hit-or-miss for ASU, but they’re hoping to strike gold on the WVU transfer.

Carter Aldrette, Junior

Aldrette is one of the players that adds to ASU’s riches on the offensive end, but struggles to hold things down on the defensive side of the game. A 10-error season is ASU’s second-worst behind  Swift. Offensively, though, he excels at driving in runs, and had multiple impressive hitting streaks over the course of the year.

With all the infielders covered, the resounding theme is clearly offense. ASU has a lot of intelligent batters, some solid power hitters, and plenty of players that can put runs on the board. However, defense is an afterthought for a lot of these athletes, so it’s up to ASU’s coaching staff to try and fix that for this year. Let’s take a look at ASU’s four catchers on staff.

Lyle Lin, Junior

Lin, after putting 110 consecutive games under his belt at the catcher position, will mostly DH for a majority of this season. His offensive performance has only improved over his two years as a Sun Devil, but his defense was spotty. He picked off 11 runners attempting steals last year, a team-high, but tallied six errors in the process. Offensively, Lin proved that he deserves that DH spot, with an OBP of .344 and 16 doubles. He’ll be a trusted bat in Smith’s lineup, but he will be replaced defensively by Sam Ferri.

Sam Ferri, Redshirt Sophomore

Ferri hasn’t played a game since 2017 and spent last year rehabbing an arm injury. His offensive game isn’t very impressive, but his defense has given him his shot at the starting catcher position this year. He had a .182 average in 18 games in his freshman year, but one would hope his rehab year has given him time to work on some aspects of both sides of his game. With Smith giving him the call on the defensive side after spending a whole year getting his arm ready, he should be a welcome addition to ASU’s defensive infield.

Keolu Ramos, Junior

Ramos, a community college transfer from San Mateo College in California, picked off an impressive 16 runners and hit .292 from the catcher position. He allowed just four errors in 318 chances behind the plate, which is important for a Sun Devil infield that struggles with bobbling the ball. Ramos, if he gets the call, could be a very impressive defender for ASU, but will need some time to adjust to batting in the NCAA versus the CCCAA. As a junior, he may not have much time as a Sun Devil left, and will mostly likely play second-fiddle to Ferri and Lin.

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Nick Cheema, Junior

Cheema hasn’t seen the field since the 2017 season and only had 14 at bats that year. He most likely won’t see much time behind three other catchers for ASU, but he did have one home run in eight games his freshman year.