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Duke Series Recap: Straight Outta Mike Compton

Florida State has been scuffling as of late as they have dropped four out of their past five games and three consecutive road ACC series. Coach Mike Martin shook up the pitching rotation over the weekend in Durham as Drew Carlton would go Friday, Cole Sands on Saturday, and Ed Voyles on Sunday would square off against Duke. Missing from the rotation was redshirt senior Mike Compton, who has started every Friday night start for the Seminoles this season. As a result, Florida State is slipping in the polls and is losing their grip on a national seed. Let’s examine the series to see where the Seminoles went wrong and where they can improve.

Trending Upward

OF Jackson Lueck 3-12 RBI

The biggest positive for the Seminoles over the weekend is that starting left fielder and freshman phenom Jackson Lueck returned from his ankle injury that had sidelined him for a couple of weeks. The offense had been sorely missing the spark the Lueck provided and although he did not hit particularly well, the important part is that Lueck is back and healthy. Judging from Coach Martin’s confidence in Lueck, he should be able to slide in to the 3-5 hole in the lineup in upcoming games and will be a key factor in producing runs for Florida State going forward as he leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage in limited playing time this season.

RHP Cole Sands 6.0IP 4H 3R 3ER 2BB 6K

The freshman starter for Florida State responded at being bumped up in the weekend rotation by pitching one of his best games this season. Cole Sands was pitching ahead of batters and had his offspeed pitches working to compliment his fastball. By getting ahead and not falling into hitters counts, Sands was able to avoid being too predictable and was able to entice strikeouts on two strike counts. The issue with Sands for the majority of the season was falling behind batters and being unable to locate his fastball. He only had two walks on Saturday and his stuff has never been a question, it has just been a matter of when he can throw the offspeed as opposed to having to force a fastball to a hitter in order to avoid a walk. Sands has some of the best stuff in Florida State’s rotation and although this move to Saturday may not last, he has shown he deserves to be in the weekend rotation.

IF Taylor Walls 6-14 HR 4R 3RBI

The not-so-light-hitting shortstop for the Seminoles now has three home runs over his past four games as he added two against Florida Gulf Coast over the week and another at Duke on Sunday. Walls, along with John Sansone, has been one of the more important cogs for this Seminole offense this season. When he was moved to the leadoff spot early on this season the move paid dividends immediately for the Seminoles and Walls is continuing to mash as the season heads towards the playoffs.

Florida State is ranked highest in any of the national polls by D1Baseball at no. 9. The Seminoles had a huge twelve spot drop in the Perfect Game poll, falling from no. 5 to no. 17.

Trending Downward

RHP Mike Compton DNP

Let me preface this section by stating I do not think that Compton will be out of the rotation the rest of the way. I believe that this is just a weekend of rest for a guy who has been pitching for 4+ years and has already had one Tommy John surgery. That being said, the season-long Friday night starter did not pitch at all for the Florida State Seminoles this weekend, and it is worth considering where he stands with the team going forward. Mike Compton has long been one of Coach Martin’s favorite players and Compton was one of the team’s leaders and captains for the past two seasons. He has been mired by ineffectiveness and loss of fastball velocity this season so it is not hard to see why the move was made from an on-field perspective. Compton’s season has hinged on his ability to locate his fastball on both sides of the plate and to finish batters off with his slider and changeup combination. Going forward Compton is likely to rejoin the rotation at some point but it will be interesting to see whether or not he pitches against rival ACC powerhouse Miami next weekend.

C Cal Raleigh 2-13

Every player is likely to succumb to a bad series or two every now and then, unless your name is John Sansone, and this was one of those series for Cal Raleigh. Shake N’ Bake has been a name to watch for the Seminoles ever since he flipped his commitment from Clemson to Florida State at the eleventh hour. Offensively, Raleigh has been an important piece of the lineup as he leads the team in home runs (9). The freshman catcher has a patient approach at the plate, not being fooled very often, and keeps his weight back with a long swing through the zone (especially from the left side) which contributes to much of his power. Raleigh will definitely bounce back, he is one of the most talented hitters on the team, and he will be expected to carry a significant load of both the offensive lineup and the pitching staff.

RHP Drew Carlton 7.0IP 8H 5R 5ER 1BB 2K

Florida State’s sophomore right-hander continues his lackluster 2016 campaign by turning in what has become a prototypical start for Drew Carlton. It is refreshing to see a Seminole starter going seven innings but eight hits and five runs are entirely too much. The two strikeouts are very low, even considering Carlton relies on contact. Carlton is a similar pitcher to Mike Compton as he has a fastball, slider, and changeup combination and his effectiveness is entirely reliant upon the location of his fastball. If he can locate his fastball he can use his secondary pitches to force groundouts and strikeouts. When he is struggling, he falls into hitters counts and is forced to throw fastballs over the middle of the plate, which his 89-92 fastball cannot overcome on velocity alone.

Florida State travels to take on Stetson on Tuesday 5/17 and hosts Miami in Tallahassee for the final weekend series of the season for the Seminoles.

Vinnie Cervino
Lead Baseball Writer, Perpetually Pessimistic Sport Fan, Proprietor of My Own Delusions and Fallacies, 80 Grade Takes. Twitter @cervino_vinnie.

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