FSU Baseball 2019 Season Preview

Haylee Blitch/NoleGameday

Friday, February 15th will mark the beginning of the end for FSU Baseball’s head coach Mike Martin. This will be Martin’s 40th and final season at the helm for Florida State. He has many great accomplishments during his time at FSU. But, one, in particular, was becoming the all-time winningest head coach in NCAA Baseball history last May. While his list of accolades is longer than many coaches dream of, there is still one he has not yet achieved. Martin is hopeful this is the year he can finally leave Omaha with the ultimate achievement, a national title.

After a devastating finish to the 2018 season in a loss at Regionals, Florida State is looking ahead to the upcoming season with even more preparation than before. The ‘Noles had an outstanding season ending with a 43-19 record and back-to-back ACC Championship titles. Towards the end of the year, it looked as if the team could not be stopped, and simply were unlucky in the Tallahassee Regional.

This year’s team is stacked with talented players from top to bottom. The freshman class, one of the largest in program history, is bringing in multiple star players that have the potential of starting on Opening Day. A refreshing group of sophomores that are eager to take charge of the program when called upon. Juniors, with some looking to boost their draft stocks with some success this season. And finally, the seniors, who have seen the ups and downs over the last four years, and are ready to make this the best year yet.

Because of the talent, this freshmen class brings in, you may see their names in the starting lineups often. Some might even be giving the returners a strong competition for their starting spot. Some highly talked about position battles have been at catcher, outfield, and second base. These will all depend on how everyone plays during the opening weekend.

Among the major preseason polls, the ‘Noles were in the top 15 in all of them. D1Baseball ranked them as No. 13, and the third best ranked ACC team. D1Baseball touted the ‘Noles as above average in the categories of hitting and pitching. In the USA Today Sports Coaches Preseason Poll, FSU ranked as No. 11. This was the second highest ranking for them in the preseason. The highest preseason ranking for FSU came from BaseballAmerica, where they ranked as No. 6 overall. BaseballAmerica also picked FSU to be one of the eight teams to make it to the College World Series in June. The final preseason ranking came from Perfect Game, where the ‘Noles came in at No. 14.

Schedule Highlights

Opening weekend will feature a matchup between the ‘Noles and the University of Maine Black Bears. Maine is coming off a 20-34 record, breaking even at 12-12 in the America East Conference. Their only valuable win came over Miami in the first game of their three-game series, despite losing the other two. Maine does have some talented players to give FSU a strong test, but should not be more than the ‘Noles can handle.

Looking ahead to the rest of FSU’s schedule, the first four weekend series are all home at Dick Howser Stadium. The series will feature Maine, Youngstown State, Mercer, and Virginia Tech to kick off ACC play. During the first four weekends are weekday games played against in-state rivals, Jacksonville, USF, and North Florida. After that is the start of the annual three-game series between arch-rival UF. They will face the Gators once at home, on the road, and also at a neutral site in Jacksonville throughout the season.

FSU will have five ACC road trips this season to NC State, Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia, and Louisville. These are all going to be difficult road games with the atmospheres that most of these schools have built for their respective teams. FSU will need to leave these road trips with multiple series wins if they want to be in consideration for postseason play.

Headlining the ACC teams coming to Tallahassee are Clemson, Wake Forest, and Pitt. Clemson has been a powerhouse in the ACC the past few years, while also sending multiple players to the MLB every year. Wake Forest has quietly been making their name more prominent in the conversation of strong ACC teams. Wake Forest won two of three against the ‘Noles last season. Former assistant coach Mike Bell took the head coaching position at Pittsburgh this past summer, so it will be interesting to see how his new team plays against his former team and mentor, Coach Martin.

Projected Starting Lineup

Florida State has some of the best players in the country, especially with captains Drew Parrish and Drew Mendoza. Both are coming off stellar sophomore years, and are looking to make their junior seasons the best one yet with the MLB Draft in June. The sophomore class is returning multiple players who came up big when they were needed most last season, such as CJ Van Eyk, Jonah Scolaro, and Reese Albert. The freshman class is led by the second-ranked position player to choose college over the Draft last summer with Nander De Sedas. Other freshmen like Robby Martin, Matheu Nelson, and Elijah Cabell had an excellent fall season and could be beneficial to FSU in their respective positions.

The starting lineup for Opening Day against Maine should look something like:

Catcher: Matheu Nelson

First Base: Nico Baldor

Second Base: Mike Salvatore

Shortstop: Nander De Sedas

Third Base: Drew Mendoza

Right Field: Elijah Cabell

Center Field: J.C. Flowers

Left Field: Reese Albert

Designated Hitter: Robby Martin

Weekend Pitching Rotation: Drew Parrish (Friday), CJ Van Eyk (Saturday), Austin Pollock (Sunday)

For Opening Weekend against Maine, the pitching lineup will be as mentioned above, with the addition of sophomore LHP Shane Drohan for game two of the doubleheader on Saturday.

The bullpen relief staff will be led by sophomore LHP Jonah Scolaro, junior LHP Clayton Kwiatkowski, and sophomore RHP Conor Grady. Freshmen Jack Anderson and Cole Beverlin should be able to work in when needed as well. For the closer position, redshirt junior Chase Haney is the leading candidate.

With the multiple questions still surrounding the pitching staff and rotations this season, it will be interesting to see how the first few weeks of the season play out. There is a lot of buzz coming into this season for Florida State because of the talented players, and Martin’s final season as the head coach. There is so much to look forward to for this team, and so much to accomplish. Regardless of if this season comes to fruition, the ‘Noles and Coach Martin will have a lot to be proud of because of what they have put into this program as a whole. The final chapter begins on Friday, February 15th at 4 p.m. as Florida State takes on the Maine Black Bears for Opening Day.

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