Arizona State fans needn’t toss out their "I Like Ike" Tshirts just yet. Ike Davis, a pitcher and first baseman from Chaparral High School, headlined a group of 13 newcomers who began their college baseball careers by attending class Monday.
The group included six freshmen, including four — Davis, Horizon High infielder Matt Hall, Texas catcher Preston Paramore and California third baseman Brett Wallace — who were ranked among the top 100 high school prospects by Baseball America and turned down major league contracts to wear maroon and gold for the next three years.
"I’m just glad it’s over with," said Davis, who along with Hall was still in contract negotiations up until the last two weeks. "It’s a big monkey off our back and now we can just concentrate on school and baseball."
The newcomers’ arrivals on campus capped a summer that saw plenty of turnover on a team that finished third at the College World Series in June. Gone are four starting position players who accounted for 36 of ASU’s 50 home runs last season and the team’s top two pitchers who combined for 21 wins.
Catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, pitcher Jason Urquidez and infielders Jeff Larish and Joey Hooft exhausted their eligibility, while outfielder Travis Buck and pitcher Erik Averill went pro after big junior seasons.
Helping to fill the home run void left by Larish could be Paramore and Wallace, both of whom ASU coach Pat Murphy said, "can hit it as far as anybody we’ve ever had."
Replacing Urquidez and Averill could be tougher. A number of players will get a chance to prove themselves in starting roles, including holdovers, and newcomers Davis, Jeff Urlaub, Brady Martinez and Matt Trink.
"You can’t get too wrapped up in how good a class is or what they are ranked. But we do know that some of them are going to step right in and play right away," Murphy said.
EXTRA BASES: Trink and utility player C.J. Retherford started on the mound for Horizon and Hamilton, respectively, in the 5A state championship game as seniors in 2003. Retherford threw a six-hitter to win the matchup, 5-1. . . .
Pitcher Daryl Arreola and infielder Frank Mesa, both seniors, returned to ASU after spending the spring semester at junior colleges. . . .
Pitcher Seth Garrison, who underwent an emergency appendectomy while with the team at the College World Series, transferred to Navarro College in Texas. . . .
Outfielder Ryan Sontag was the Big Ten freshman of the year at Michigan State last season. . . .
Martinez, a second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection at Utah in 2003, spent the last two years on a Mormon mission to the Dominican Republic. . . .
Infielder Ben Bando is the son of former ASU All-American Chris Bando.