Sidebar: Gage Canning’s power bat emerges

The Sun Devils' center fielder has hit three home runs in the last seven days

 LAS VEGAS -- ASU baseball has struggled to find consistency this season, but junior Gage Canning has done it all.

Entering Tuesday’s midweek 14-6 loss at Earl E. Wilson Baseball Stadium, the Sun Devils' center fielder ranked third in the nation and first in the Pac-12 with 51 hits. Canning leads the nation in triples (9), ranks 19th in batting average (.404) and is second in total bases (96). 

Head coach Tracy Smith has said multiple times there is always room for every player, even someone of Canning’s caliber, to improve and add new wrinkles to their game. Whether he intended to hit for more power this season, Canning has certainly done that.

“(A) short compact swing,” Smith said about why Canning has hit for more power. “He is just a phenomenal player. But (he) is just very consistent, keeps doing what he is doing.”

Canning has hit three home runs in the last seven days alone, and none of them were cheap. He blasted a solo home run to right-center field in an eventual midweek loss to Cal State Fullerton last Wednesday. Then, in a win over USC on Friday, Canning jumped on a first-pitch fastball and sent it over the wall in right-center field, giving ASU baseball a 2-0 lead in the third inning.

Last season, Canning hit six home runs and only had nine for his career entering this season. He is already one bomb away from tying his career high with 22 games still left. The Ramona, California native said he attributed his power surge to improved pitch recognition.

"I would say because those pitches were up and in I was just able to put a good swing on them, Canning said. "I think recognizing pitches better helps square up balls better."

Canning may not have the power or hit as many home runs as freshman first baseman Spencer Torkelson, but Smith said he has sneaky pop.

“If you watch his batting practice, the guy has some serious power too,” Smith said.

Canning’s accomplishments at the midway point of the 2018 season have not gone unnoticed across the country. USA Baseball released its midseason watch list for the Golden Spikes Award. The annual honor is given to the top college baseball player in the country at the end of the year, and both Canning and Torkelson made the list.

Before Canning failed to reach base against the Trojans on Sunday, he had gotten on base at least once in every game this season. But aside from his consistent performance at the plate, Canning has also only made one error this season.

“What more can you say about him,” Smith said. 


Reach the reporter at jpjacqu1@asu.edu or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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