June 7, 2004
The next phase of Jeff Larish's and Dustin Pedroia's baseball lives begins today.
The two standouts from Arizona State will be among 700 or so players taken during major league baseball's summer draft, which runs two days beginning today.
"I'd like to be still playing," Larish said minutes after the Sun Devils' season came to an end on Saturday with a 5-0 loss to Cal State Fullerton, the second time ASU had been blanked in eight days.
But when the McClintock High School graduate receives word today of what professional organization he'll join, the future will be very much on his mind.
Baseball America rates Larish the No. 46 pick while Pedroia is No. 53.
Larish didn't put up the big numbers he did last season, when he belted 18 homers and drove in 95 runs. His power numbers dropped to seven homers and 49 RBIs this year, which has raised some questions. But scouts don't pay that much attention to statistics, just what they perceive to be his strengths.
And at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Larish has good professional size.
Quite the opposite of the diminutive Pedroia (5-8, 180) who has been overcoming his relative lack of size throughout his athletic life.
Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew is considered a much better prospect than Pedroia in part because he's 6-1 and 185 pounds.
But coach Pat Murphy believes one of his favorite players has a chance to be drafted in the first two rounds (by Oakland) and a shot to be called up to the big leagues in September.
Pedroia finished the season batting .393. He had 24 doubles and out-homered Larish with nine. Scouts wonder how much of that average was due to the use of aluminum bats.
The Devils are also expecting to lose junior infielder Josh Asanovich, who transferred from Central Arizona this season and finished third on the team in batting with a .366 average.
Asanovich's former Central Arizona teammate, right-hander Jason Urquidez, the ace of the ASU staff, is also not expected back. Urquidez was 12-3 with a 3.41 ERA. He led ASU with 97 innings. He allowed 90 hits, walked 47 and struck out 94.
Because Murphy has backed away from signing big-name prospects, few Sun Devils signees will be premium selections.
ASU's two highest-rated players, infielder Andrew Romine (son of former Devil Kevin Romine) of Lake Forest, Calif., and 6-4 left-handed pitcher Drew Bowman of Morrison, Colo., are expected to be picked in the first five rounds.
ASU believes Romine, the lone signee ranked among the top 100 prospects (74) will enroll, while Baseball America said Bowman appears headed to ASU as well.
Another key pitching signee for ASU, Ryan Mattheus of Sacramento City College, declined an offer from the Colorado Rockies, who held his rights until the end of May. But he's back in the draft pool and another team could draft him and sign him.