With the departure of key pieces from last season's offense, the ASU baseball lineup will lean on its young core this upcoming season.
Drew Swift, who led ASU in at-bats, walks and hits last season, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the eighth round of the 2021 MLB Draft. Jack Moss transferred to Texas A&M after hitting .305 with the seventh-most hits. Hunter Jump also moved to the University of Kentucky after leading ASU in walks with Swift.
ASU players and coaches are confident that while their lineup is filled with underclassmen, their experience and previous successes make them one of the most elite offenses in the Pac-12.
"We had a really young lineup last year," redshirt sophomore pitcher Christian Bodlovich said. "We had a lot of freshmen step up and perform. So I think this year is going to be even better. I know we're going to be better than last year."
Redshirt sophomore Joe Lampe is expected to top off the batting order. Lampe hit .294 and tied the team for most triples with four in his first season in Tempe last year. The speedy center fielder has his eyes on stealing 30 bags this season.
Redshirt sophomore McLain and sophomores Long and Hunter Haas all hit over .300 as freshmen and look to continue their success in the box as the heart of the lineup.
Second baseman McLain led ASU in runs (44) and doubles (18).
"Swifty was a huge part of the lineup last year," redshirt sophomore outfielder Kai Murphy said of Swift. "I think you can probably expect Sean McLain to take a step up and take some of those big at-bats that Swifty had last year."
Infielder Long had the highest batting average at .340 and the most home runs and RBIs with 16 and 54.
The young nucleus of talent is led by graduate student Conor Davis, who missed all of last year due to a season-ending knee surgery. The first baseman transferred from Auburn where he spent four years and helped the Tigers to the College World Series Tournament in 2019.
"He is without a doubt our leader in the clubhouse and off the field," head coach Willie Bloomquist said.
Redshirt sophomore catcher Nate Baez will look to build off his run at the end of the year. Over the final 14 games, Baez led the team in batting average (.362), home runs (8) and RBIs (20).
"We have the chance to do something really special," Davis said. "Our lineup might be overlooked because there are some younger guys here and there, but there's experience one through nine and we're going to swing the stick and play good defense."
While the pitching rotation and bullpen remain up in the air, ASU's talented lineup that has power, average and speed will determine its success this spring. Baseball kicks off the season 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, against Dixie State at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.