From high school to the minor leagues, it’s been quite a journey the last 13 years for Brandon Higelin.
Higelin starred at Crescenta Valley High before attending Cal State Los Angeles and being drafted by the San Diego Padres. At each level, Higelin received plenty of advice on the art of pitching. Now, it’s Higelin’s turn to provide pointers.
“I’ve learned a lot about pitching from so many people at the different levels,” said Higelin, who officially signed on as pitching coach at Arizona State University on Wednesday. “I’ve always wanted to coach at some point and show pitchers how to compete and work through different situations in a game.
“I want to give back. It’s an honor and a thrill to be a part of Arizona State. It’s a great conference with a lot of top teams in the country.”
Higelin, who graduated from Crescenta Valley in 2001 and earned All-Area accolades, served as the pitching coach at Indiana University last season under coach Tracy Smith. Smith was named the new head coach at Arizona State on Thursday, replacing Tim Esmay. Smith will be Arizona State’s fifth coach in program history.
Smith asked Higelin, 31, to join him at Arizona State, which finished 33-24, 19-11 for third place in the Pacific Athletic Conference-12 South Division last season. The Sun Devils lost in the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Regional.
Higelin, who was taken in the 28th round of the 2005 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by San Diego, said the Arizona State job seemed intriguing.
“Coach Smith gave me an opportunity to let me be myself while at Indiana last season,” said Higelin, a left-hander. “He’s the kind of person who lets you work to your strengths.
“I’ve learned from him that as a pitching coach you have to treat each individual differently. You realize you are in charge of a staff of 12 to 14 pitchers. There’s a lot to cover. You want to be able to go out there and create a bond with your staff.”
In his one season at Indiana, which went 44-15, 21-3 for first place in the Big Ten Conference, the Hoosiers fared well under Higelin. Indiana finished with a 2.33 team earned-run average and advanced to the Bloomington Regional. Arizona State registered a 3.88 team ERA last season.
Higelin credited, among others, current Crescenta Valley Coach Phil Torres and pitching coach Darin Beer for getting him on track on the mound.
“Coach Torres gave me the opportunity to learn about pitching,” Higelin said. “Coach Beer always told me to be able to trust myself.
“I’m grateful in being able to learn from both of them.”
Torres, who guided Crescenta Valley to its third straight Pacific League championship this season, said Higelin will be a good fit for the Sun Devils.
“Brandon is somebody who clearly paid his dues at the different levels and he will do well [at Arizona State],” Torres said. “He did a good job with us and we liked the way he competed hard and listened to people.
“Now, he’s going to a PAC-12 team and he will do well.”
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .