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Marrero headlines talented Sun Devils’ roster

Deven Marrero squares up for a bunt in a game against UA on Mar. 27, 2011. Marrero is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by various scouting services. (Photo by Beth Easterbrook)
Deven Marrero squares up for a bunt in a game against UA on Mar. 27, 2011. Marrero is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by various scouting services. (Photo by Beth Easterbrook)

Look down the list of any projected 2012 MLB Draft order and it won’t take long to find Deven Marrero’s name.

Many experts view the junior shortstop as a potential No. 1 overall pick in June. His range defensively coupled with a phenomenal arm and great bat-speed warrants such high regards.

With only three returning players from its everyday lineup last year, the ASU baseball team will rely heavily on Marrero, along with the other two returners, to provide offensive stability for the No. 17 Sun Devils.

“It’s been a joy to watch Deven grow up in this program,” coach Tim Esmay said. “He’s always been a high-profile type baseball player, but he comes out every day and he’s got the energy to push not only himself, but other guys too. The baseball has always been there, but I’ve enjoyed watching the young man become a man.”

The attention doesn’t faze Marrero. Instead, he embraces it.  The 2011 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year was a 17th round draft selection coming out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds.

“I’m used to it already, I just have to go out there and play,” Marrero said. “If I take care of my team stuff and do what I have to do out there, the draft stuff will take care of itself. I’m out here to have fun and enjoy this special team that we have.”

The other two returning starters are outfielder Andrew Aplin and infielder Joey DeMichele, both juniors.

Aplin is the centerpiece of the ASU outfield with an exceptional knack of tracking down balls in any direction. At the plate, Aplin is a contact hitter with not much power, but he will get on base and won’t wait for others to drive him in.

DeMichele came out of nowhere last year to win the 2011 Pac-10 batting title with a .368 average as a full-time designated hitter. His season highlights included a three home run performance against Stanford, who is the No. 2 team in the country, and a walk-off home run in the Tempe Regional against New Mexico.

This season, he won’t surprise any opponents though. Named a preseason All-American by some publications, DeMichele will be on everybody’s radar.

“Welcome to being somebody, once you get a book on you, people know who you are,” Esmay said. “I’d imagine there aren’t a lot of programs who won’t circle Joey’s name when they come here. You have to grow and you have make adjustments to get better and he has done that.”

Another change for DeMichele in 2012 will be playing in the field. Esmay said he could play a number of different positions, including first, second and third base.

“Knowing I’ll play a bigger role means a lot to me,” DeMichele said. “(I’m) most comfortable at second base, but Esmay is the coach, so whatever he decides, I’m 100 percent for it. Physically, I’ve done a lot with speed and strength, so I’m just ready to go play now.”

Filling the rest of the lineup for everyday purposes might take some time, but there are a lot of talented Sun Devils waiting for their opportunity.

Senior first baseman Abe Ruiz will finally get his chance to shine while sophomore infielder Michael Benjamin and outfielder Kasey Coffman will build upon their limited roles last season.

Other Sun Devils who will see their first field time include Valley freshmen natives Drew Stankiewicz and Jake Peevyhouse, among others.

“It’s Arizona State, all our guys are studs,” Marrero said. “You have freshmen that are All-Stars already and you have other guys who were on the bench last year who are ready. You will be surprised when you see them.”


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