ASU hires former MLB pitcher as pitching coach

The Sun Devils were without a pitching coach during the 2017 season

At long last, the Arizona State baseball program has found its pitching coach, that being former MLB pitcher Mike Cather. The Sun Devils did not have a pitching coach their unsuccessful 2017 season, after firing former pitching coach Brandon Higelin in late December. 

The news was first reported on Tuesday by Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball.com.

The Sun Devils also issued a release regarding the hiring Tuesday afternoon.

"After an extensive and diligent national search, we've found a pitching coach whose credentials match the unique requirements of ASU Baseball. We wanted a candidate who not only understood the rigors of college baseball, but someone who also had experience and knowledge in the professional ranks," ASU baseball head coach Tracy Smith said in a release. "The caliber of kids we pursue at Arizona State University all share the same mindset. They choose to be educated at a world class university while honing their skills for a long career in professional baseball. Mike Cather has coached and/or played at every level of the game. His career in professional baseball after his Pac-12 and MLB playing days has greatly enriched his ability to mentor our student-athletes. We couldn't be happier to welcome him as a Sun Devil."

Cather, 46, played with the Atlanta Braves from 1997-1999 and has experience as a pitching coach in the minor leagues. He played college baseball at Cal-Berkeley. 

In 2006, he entered the Boston Red Sox farm system, where he was a pitching coach and scout until 2011. Cather joined the San Diego Padres organization from 2012-2014, where he spent the 2014 season as the pitching coach for Triple-A El Paso. 

He continued coaching in the minors in 2015, this time for the Chicago Cubs in Triple-A Iowa. His coaching was effective for the Cubs, as the Triple-A affiliate led their league with a team ERA of 3.73.  In 2016, Cather was named the minor league pitching coordinator for the Miami Marlins. 

"I would like to thank Tracy Smith for this opportunity. The biggest thing for me in accepting this position was having the chance to develop players for multiple years," Cather said in the release. "Player development has always been my first love. I love teaching and have a passion for helping. My driving force is to see the light bulb turn on in a young man's head when things click."

Cather's hiring comes at the right time for ASU, as the Sun Devils had a 5.53 team ERA and allowed a .296 opposing batting average, which were respectively the second worst and worst in the Pac-12. Not surprisingly, the Sun Devils finished with a lowly 23-32 overall record. 

Cather will have some experienced pitchers to work with, such as senior Eli Lingos, junior Connor Higgins, and sophomore Chaz Montoya are expected to be key pitchers for the Sun Devils in 2018. 

Even though it took a while for ASU baseball to find its new pitching coach, the administration liked the final result. 

"We had no doubt that Mike Cather was the best fit to join our program from a cultural and professional standpoint," said Sun Devil Athletics senior associate athletics director Ken Landphere in the release. "We feel that he will be able to relate to our players and our recruits and provide insight and development to their careers that very few collegiate coaches can provide. He's also adept at evaluating and assessing high school talent and collegiate players and will provide a valuable addition to our already exceptional recruiting efforts."


Reach the reporter at mpharri7@asu.edu or follow @Harris_Mark7 on Twitter.

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