Pac-12 baseball is back beginning Friday. Here on Sports360AZ.com, Pac-12 at the Plate is the place to keep up with how ASU and Arizona baseball are stacking up in the conference. This week Arizona hosts Bryant University and ASU hosts head coach Tracy Smith’s alma mater, Miami of Ohio. Here’s what you need to know ahead of the action this weekend:
The Sun Devils have a lot of young talent that you will get to see on display this weekend. Two freshman will make up the middle infield on Opening Night, while junior Jeremy McCuin will be getting the start at first and sophomore Carter Aldrete will be at third.
Sophomore lefty Spencer Van Scoyoc will get the start on the bump on Friday.
Justin Toscano gives more on the Sun Devils ahead of Opening Weekend below.
Despite having a solid group of returners this season, several key components from the Wildcats’ 2017 team moved on after last year’s MLB draft resulting in head coach Jay Johnson having to move some guys around the field.
Junior Alfonso Rivas will be starting at first base on Friday. Rivas replaces JJ Matijevic who went to the Astros in last year’s draft. Rivas played left field his freshman year, then primarily DH his sophomore year. In 2017, Rivas was a key bat in the Wildcats’ lineup. He comes into this season with several preseason honors including being ranked as the No. 3 first baseman in the country by D1 Baseball and was named to the Preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List.
In the outfield, senior Cal Stevenson will be making the move from right field to center field. Stevenson was also a big bat for Arizona last season.
Johnson told the media earlier in the week that this may be his best defensive group in his three years as head coach.
In their preseason player power rankings, @d1baseball ranked:
* Alfonso Rivas as the 3rd best 1st baseman in the country
— Arizona Baseball (@ArizonaBaseball) February 13, 2018
He said having Cesar Salazar and Ryan Haug rotating behind the plate will be huge because of the experience both have had in the last few years and that third baseman Nick Quintana has made some big improvements in the offseason that he is excited for.
Junior right-hander Cody Deason will get the start for the Wildcats on Friday. Deason came into his own in 2017, getting some experience in the postseason that will surely help him this year.
Around the Pac
The Pac-12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll has Oregon State leading the Pac with Stanford and UCLA following. Arizona comes in at No. 4, while ASU comes in at No. 8. Conference play will get started in mid-March.
Here is the full Pac-12 baseball preseason coaches poll:
1. OSU (100 votes)
2. UCLA (93)
3. Stanford (88)
4. Arizona (67)
5. Cal (55)
6. Oregon (50)
7. UW (49)
8. ASU (40)
9. USC (30)
10. WSU (18)
11. Utah (15)
— Bob Lundeberg (@The_Real_Bob) February 12, 2018
Oregon State will be kicking off their season in Surprise, AZ in the College Baseball Classic at Surprise Stadium.