EMERSON, Ga – With over 40 teams playing in the talent-rich 17u South Texas Super25 Regional, the Texas Sun Devils are looking to prove that they are the elite program in the state.
Matt Thompson has coached the Sun Devils program for over 10 years, and in that time he has succeeded in helping his players achieve their goal of playing baseball at the college and professional level. With Thompson at the helm, over 70 Sun Devils have been drafted and over 130 have gone on to play Division I baseball.
Three Sun Devil alums were drafted in the first round in 2012, as Andrew Heaney, Gavin Cecchini, Stryker Trahan and Ty Hensley were drafted by the Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees, respectively. This year, the Texas Rangers selected former Sun Devil shortstop Ti’quan Forbes in the second round, and many other former players are currently competing in the College World Series.
Even with the plethora of talented players that have come through the Sun Devils program, the 17u Sun Devils’ roster this summer boasts just as much talent as prior years. Thompson believes he has a complete team this summer, with both supremely talented pitchers and position players.
Thompson believes that the Sun Devils have three aces on their pitching staff, calling them their “Three-Headed Monster.” Those aces are Chase Shugart, Kale Breaux and Devon Roedahl.
Shugart is a two-way player committed to the University of Texas, who Thompson described as a “left-handed power stick” at the plate. On the mound, Thompson said Shugart is a right-hander who will, “throw anywhere from 87 to 92, with a nice combination of a curveball and a hard slider.” Shugart is the No. 24 ranked prospect in the state of Texas.
Breaux gives the Sun Devils a different look, coming from the left side. Thompson said, “he’s an ace you’ll see anywhere from 86 to 91. The greatest thing about Kale is that he can throw any pitch in any count he wants. If he wants to go 0-0 changeup, he will, if he wants to go 3-2 curveball, he will. He has great command, great touch, and great feel.” Breaux is committed to Mississippi State and is the No. 10 ranked prospect from Louisiana in the 2015 class.
Roedahl is the third member of the Three-Headed Monster, and is a power right-hander committed to TCU. He pitches, “anywhere from 87 to 92, he has a big body and long arms. He throws it by guys with his heavy fastball, and he’s one of the toughest competitors we have, not just on our pitching staff but our whole team.” Roedahl is the highest ranked player on the Sun Devils in Perfect Game’s Class of 2015 rankings, coming in at No. 9 in the state of Texas and No. 43 nationally.
The Sun Devils can do more than pitch, however, as they have players who excel both at the plate and with the glove across the diamond.
Their defense starts with Gavin Johnson behind the plate. For Thompson, “Gavin reminds me a lot of a young Stryker Trahan, as both fit the mold of strong-armed catchers and left-handed hitters.” Thompson praised Johnson for how he works with pitchers and captains the defense, saying, “he anchors the battery with his ability to throw out runners at any time, and we’re extremely excited to have him.”
After Johnson, Braden Comeaux, Ford Proctor and Shane Selman anchor the defense up the middle. Comeaux and Proctor man the middle infield exceptionally well, leaving Thompson to state: “I’d like to see somebody with a better shortstop-second base combination both offensively and defensively than those two guys.” Comeaux is committed to TCU while Proctor is committed to Rice.
Selman is one of the most complete players in the country, and while he is currently ranked the No. 14 player in Louisiana, with another strong summer, he should jump even higher in the Class of 2015 rankings. He mashes for one of the best high schools in the country (Alfred M. Barbe) while hitting in the middle of the Sun Devils’ lineup during the summer.
Thompson praised Selman as one of the most important pieces on the roster, and described him as a player: “He’s a right-handed power bat who can put one out at any time. Shane has as much power, if not more power, than anybody on the offensive side of the team, and he’s also a 6.7 runner in the outfield.” With his speed and power in the outfield while being an integral part of such a powerful program, Selman should catch many scouts’ eyes while he plays in the Super25 tournament as well as other Perfect Game tournaments throughout the summer.
While the Perfect Game Super25 Regional in South Texas is taking place this weekend, it unfortunately overlaps with one of the biggest Perfect Game showcases, the Perfect Game National Showcase. The Sun Devils have numerous players who would stand out at the National Showcase, but only one player (Comeaux) is attending, meaning the Sun Devils’ roster is still in tact for the Super25 regional. That’s bad news for the rest of South Texas.
Thompson is excited about the Super25 concept of a team-based tournament, “because it closely follows the College World Series format. We also like that it’s a Perfect Game event, and everybody knows how well scouted their events are.”
Thompson also believes the Super25 format is helpful for their players because it allows them to play high-level competition while minimizing travel. “We enjoy that we can get the Perfect Game experience within our region. We used to have a hard time finding quality tournaments, but this is perfect now, as we can face the best local teams before facing national competition.” The Super25 model lets his team play together against good competition while still giving the players the exposure to scouts offered by Perfect Game events.
The Sun Devils are the team to beat in the South Texas region. With their ability to put out a front-end starter every game along with their loaded offense, it would be a surprise if they lost a game, even with the magnitude of high-quality teams they will play. Coach Thompson develops his players the right way and gives them an opportunity to thrive in the future, and the first step for the Sun Devils is succeeding this weekend in the Super25 South Texas Regional.