This is probably the most damning aspect of the Tim Esmay era at Arizona State: The
Sun Devils have never been as irrelevant in the Major League Baseball draft as
Esmay resigned under pressure this week after taking his teams to the NCAA
tournament in four out of his five seasons as a head coach. The one year the Sun
Devils missed was 2012. They were banned from the postseason as punishment for
infractions under Esmay’s predecessor, Pat Murphy.
Esmay’s victory total had been on a steady decline.
What’s more the talent level had declined drastically as shown by this year’s draft.
The top Sun Devil pick was Drew Stankiewicz, selected as shortstop in the
11th round, 322nd overall.
Since the draft began in 1965 — the first ever-pick was a Sun Devil, Rick Monday —
ASU had never gone a year without a player going in the first 10 rounds.
The previous lowest top Sun Devil pick was John Finn in 1989. He went as a third
baseman in 10th round, taken by the Brewers as the 261st overall.
Pro coaches and managers have little control over how talented their teams are. High
school coaches generally don’t — or at least are supposed to — control the
level of talent on their teams. But attracting talent is one of the main functions of college
Clearly, Esmay was not successful at that — at least by the standards of this program.
The NCAA sanctions surely hurt.
Esmay’s defenders have cited aging Packard Stadium as a factor. But Packard was newer and quite a bit larger than UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium. And the Bruins somehow managed to win the College World Series last year.
Besides a plan to move to move (first to the Cubs’ new spring training home in Mesa, then to Phoenix Municipal) had been on the boards for three years.
Esmay was a decent head coach, a solid assistant, but not the guy you want for a top program.
ASU was smart to change while it still is one.