ASU Baseball: Sam Ferri’s recovery and ascension key in historic start

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Joey Hooft
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Joey Hooft /

ASU baseball catcher Sam Ferri overcame a tough two years, including undergoing Tommy John surgery, but Ferri has emerged as a key player this season.

The crowd rose at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to the sight of a potential go-ahead home run ball hurling towards the left field foul pole.

It curved out of play, and Arizona State catcher Sam Ferri had jump back in the box with ASU trailing by one in the bottom of the seventh inning against Washington State last Saturday.

Several pitches later, he knocked a single into left field, which drove in the game-tying run. It was a vital at bat for Ferri, but probably not the one most people who attended the game will remember of his that night.

This is because with the score knotted up at seven in the bottom of the ninth, the redshirt sophomore belted a walk-off home run well over the left-field fence to keep ASU’s perfect record intact. It was Ferri’s first home run of his college career, and first one in quite some time.

“I’ve hit like five home runs in my entire life,” Ferri said. “My last one was when I was 12.”

Ferri may not be the day-to-day long ball threat like some of his teammates in the lineup (which has hit 32 home runs in 19 games), but he has broken into pivotal role in the Sun Devils’ historic 19-0 start.

More from Devils in Detail

His game management has worked with ASU’s young pitching staff thus far, aiding in its ascension from sore spot to one of the better ones in the country. At the dish, he is batting .320 with an impressive OPS of .882.

“People have not seen Same Ferri, that guy makes a difference in how we play,” head coach Tracy Smith said. “He’s taken ownership of our team, taken ownership of our pitching staff. That’s what you want out of a starting catcher.”

Ferri has had some obstacles leading up to this season, however, including needing to redshirt his second campaign.

He entered ASU as a catcher and a pitcher from Norridge, Illinois. “Perfect Game” rated him the 21st best catching recruit in the country. But, he finished his freshman year hitting a lackluster .182 in just 33 at bats, partly thanks to nagging injuries. After the 2017 campaign, he needed Tommy John surgery, keeping him out all of 2018.

Despite not being able to participate in games, Ferri did not let the procedure hold him back from most of his daily routines, which helped him jump back in once healthy.

“I was doing everything besides throwing,” Ferri said. “Even then, when my arm was healthy enough, I was doing throwing motion stuff so it translated back. I caught most of the bullpens during the week so that helped me and helped the pitchers’ confidence with me.”

Ferri worked his way back to game-ready by ASU’s scrimmage against the Texas Rangers’ instructional team during the fall, when he started behind the plate. That was a sign of his potential role once season came around.

Since then, he has started in 15 of the Sun Devils’ first 19 games, and is enjoying a stellar and healthy start to the year.

“I do a lot of rehab work with Jesse (Lowman), our trainer, he’s helped me get my body back in shape,” Ferri said. “And then in the weight room, same thing, just trying to keep myself healthy. Baseball-wise I’m doing some of the same stuff I have been doing the last couple of years, just everything is becoming more refined because of the experience I’ve had doing it.”

Not only is he thriving physically, but he has provided with his abilities to manage the players on the field, calling timeouts and adjusting the game’s tempo accordingly when stressful situations arise.

Ferri has not jumped back on the mound after the surgery (he had two appearances prior), but his understanding of the pitching staff sets him apart in his coach’s eyes.

Next. ASU Baseball: Devils escape close game, sweep Washington State. dark

“Because with the new rule changes too, you’re not allowed to do all of those visits so it is nice to have a guy that understands what we are trying to do, understands the flow of the game without being told and he can be that coach on the field,” Smith said. “I think to this point he is done a fantastic job of that.”

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.