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NoleGameday

FSU Fall Ball Preview 2019

Haylee Blitch

Happy bye week folks, let’s talk baseball! The ‘Noles have been participating in team workouts for most of September, but officially start fall practice today. It will be a busy fall for the Seminoles, with 5 total games and the transition from Mike Martin Sr. to Mike Martin Jr. The new staff of Jr., Mike Metcalf, Jim Belanger, and Tyler Holt have already begun putting their mark on the program this summer and fall with an absolute tear on the recruiting trail. They’ve already proven they recruit, now they need to prove they can coach and lead 35 players. FSU will enter fall practice with 38 players on the roster, meaning 3 players will be cut before the spring. With 18 of the 38 players on the roster being newcomers, there will be a lot of turnover this fall.

Fall Schedule

10/7, 3 PM vs. Ontario Blue Jays

The Ontario Blue Jays are a team of the top high school players in Ontario. FSU played the squad last year in fall for some tune-ups before playing college teams. This will be a good opportunity to see a lot of new faces and young guns get their shot on the diamond. The Blue Jays will also play UVA and FGCU this fall among other exhibitions.

10/18, 4 PM vs. State College of Florida

The ‘Noles will get one of the best JUCO teams in the nation this fall. The State College of Florida has regularly put up big numbers in the JUCO ranks and sent many players to D1 baseball and the MLB. This will be a good opportunity for the ‘Noles to face an instate team that rarely happens, but also for the staff to see some JUCO prospects. Meat made a point of bringing in JUCO prospects this season, as the ‘Noles brought in five transfers.

10/30, 3 PM Intrasquad

11/1, 6 PM Intrasquad

The ‘Noles will play their annual garnet-gold games the 2 days leading up to the Miami-FSU game in Tallahassee. FSU will get all of their healthy players on the field throughout the scrimmages and have some friendly competition. It will also be a good opportunity for a lot of fans to come out and see the new era of FSU baseball. If you’re coming for the Miami game, make sure to head over to Dick Howser Stadium to catch the Seminoles.

11/9, 2 PM vs. Jacksonville

Florida State and Jacksonville have seen a lot of each other in the last couple years. Last season, the ‘Noles not only played the Dolphins 3 times in the spring but also played a doubleheader against them in the fall. FSU dropped 2 of 3 games to the Dolphins in the spring. JU always presents a tough test, as they bring a technically sound team and make you beat them. FSU struggled with errors last year against Jacksonville leading to 2 losses. FSU will have a chance to send a message to the Dolphins this fall that they’re the superior team.


Position Battles

Sunday Starter

There will be a lot of roles to fill between the bullpen and weekday starters, but the focus will be on the Sunday starter role. FSU lost their Friday starter Drew Parrish to the 8th round of the MLB draft last year but will return both CJ Van Eyk and Conor Grady, leaving one-weekend spot open. I believe the spot will come down to 2 of the ‘Noles veteran lefties. Last season, Shane Drohan filled the Sunday role for most of the year, and actually pitching pretty well but not being efficient enough to eat up innings for the ‘Noles. If Drohan could put it together and throw more strikes, he could be very dominant. Antonio Velez was superb down the stretch for the Seminoles last season in his first year with the ‘Noles coming from Hillsborough Community College. Velez put together quite the resume at the end of the season last year and has the efficiency and throws enough strikes to be a starter. If FSU feels that the bullpen will be deep enough to take Velez out of it, I won’t be surprised if he’s the Sunday starter.

Second Base

The ‘Noles lost MIF Mike Salvatore to the 9th round of the MLB draft, and he’ll be almost impossible to replace on both sides of the ball. Salvy was the most consistent player on the team and kept the team afloat when it struggled. Nander De Sedas will slide back over to SS, leaving the ‘Noles with an opening at 2B. The likely starter will be freshman Danny Andzel. The Tallahassee native has been getting most of the reps at second so far this fall. Andzel stands 5’11, 175 and has stood out so far in workouts. FSU has multiple freshmen that could play second and it’s likely that Tyrell Brewer will backup Andzel. Brewer is known for his prowess in the field and athletic abilities on the base paths. It will likely be a year or two until Brewer sees the field regulary, as he weighs just 150 pounds right now. Other freshmen such as JD Tease, Josiah Smith, or Caleb Cali could also see some time at second.

Third Base

FSU will have to replace the production of team captain and 3rd rounder Drew Mendoza at the hot corner. The replacement will likely come by a freshman. The ‘Noles will keep Carter Smith at first base, meaning Mike Martin Jr. will turn to a freshman. The likeliest starter is Tallahassee native Josiah Miller. The North Florida Christian player is the ‘Noles highest-rated incoming position player, as the 104th best incoming freshman by Perfect Game. The switch hitter has a strong arm to man the corner and will get the chance to put his best foot forward in fall. Freshman Caleb Cali will likely compete for the job with Miller. Cali has the build of a 3B, standing 6’2, and weighing 210 pounds. Cali is another guy with a strong gun to man the hot corner. Cali and Miller will likely be the candidates at the position but other freshman such as Brandon Walker and Danny Andzel could also compete for the job.

Designated Hitter

Last season, Robby Martin manned the DH spot for most of the year, but with the departure of JC Flowers, Martin will have to man RF in the OF as Reese Albert moves to CF once he fully recovers from shoulder surgery. Obviously, anyone on the roster could fill the DH spot, but it will likely start out with veterans Cooper Swanson or Nico Baldor in the spot. Both guys struggled mightily on both sides of the ball last year. Taking the field away from them and having them just focus on hitting could help them out. Coop has all the tools but has to put the bat on the ball more, while Nico needs to likely be more aggressive and have some more hard contact. At the start of last season, the 2 platooned at first before being overtaken by Carter Smith. If a freshman OF emerges, Robby could slide back to DH. Other options could be freshmen Parker Messick or Brandon Walker.

Closer

JC Flowers locked down the closer position for the ‘Noles last year before getting drafted in the 4th round. The job this year will likely go to redshirt senior Chase Haney. The sidearmer had a great year last year, posting a 2.41 ERA in 37.1 IP. Haney’s combination of a sinking fastball and frisbee slider is nearly unhittable when he’s on. Tyler Ahearn may be a dark horse here. Ahearn has struggled in his first 2 years at FSU, but he’s never been fully healthy. Ahearn may have the best stuff on the staff besides Van Eyk, and reports have been that he’s been stellar in camp. If TA puts it together this year, the ‘Noles pen would get a major boost.


Headlines to watch

The development of Nander De Sedas and Elijah Cabell

FSU has to replace nearly half of its offensive production this year, and a lot of it will fall on the shoulders of Nander De Sedas and Elijah Cabell. De Sedas and Elijah were both related extremely high coming into the season last year but struggled to put it together for the full season. Nander struggled with his defense and Elijah struggled to put the ball in play, with a contact rate just over 46%. But in college baseball, the freshman season is an insane adjustment from high school. Both guys have the tools to be top players in the nation and top draft picks. Nander will slide to SS with the departure of Salvy and Elijah will be back in LF with the departure of Tim Becker after being benched last year. During the fall, Cabell will likely start in CF with the absence of Reese Albert, who hasn’t started hitting yet. If the 2 can break out in their sophomore years, it could be a great year for the ‘Noles. It will be interesting to watch if Nander can be more consistent in the field and if Elijah can put the bat on the ball more in the fall.

FSU brought in 5 transfers to boast the roster

The ‘Noles had a weaker freshman class this year, but for good reason as the players wouldn’t know who the coach would be. Meat adjusted and boasted his roster with 5 transfers, SS Jackson Greene, RHP Logan Lacey, RHP Davis Hare, RHP Jake Suddreth, and RHP Hunter Perdue. We will likely not see Perdue in 2019-20 as he had Tommy John surgery in March, but whenever he touches the mound it will be electric, as he was projected a top 5-round pick before the surgery this past spring. Last year FSU struggled with RHP depth in the bullpen, but this year it shouldn’t be a problem. Lacey, Hare, and Suddreth will boast the ‘Noles pen, giving Junior the ability to use more righty-righty matchups this season. Jackson Greene will likely backup Nander at SS but it will be interesting to see him at the plate this fall as he hit .336 last season at Wallace CC.


It’s a new era at Dick Howser stadium and the fall slate will be your first chance to see the new wave of FSU baseball. Last week, the ‘Noles were rated the #7 program in the nation and they will be out to prove that and much more in the fall slate before heading into the regular season. New era, same name, same goal, FSU baseball is back.


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