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Opponent Preview: Florida State

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Meet the Seminoles... a team that’s, of course, still really good at the baseball thing

Florida State Seminoles v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Florida State

Mascot: Seminoles | School Location: Sabre Headquarters | Conference: ACC

2019 Record: 13-2 (2-1, T-3rd Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 58

2018 Record: 43-19 (16-13*, 4th Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 11

2017 Record: 46-23 (14-14*, 5th Atlantic) | 2017 RPI Rank: 8

*2017 & 2018 ACC Tournament Champions


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC)

Game Time(s): Friday, Mar 15 @ 6:30pm; Saturday, Mar 16 @ 6:30pm; Sunday, Mar 17 @ 1:00pm

TV: ACC Network Extra (ACCNE): Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh, GoPack All-Access

Live Stats: Sidearm Stats


Tell me about this team

First, let’s take a look at what was said about Florida State from our 2019 Season Preview:

It’s one last go-round for legendary coach Mike Martin at FSU. JR 3B Drew Mendoza (.313/.440/.491, 17 2B, 7 HR), a 2019 MLB Draft Top 50 prospect, is the key returnee of a group that otherwise has a lot of experience, but didn’t produce at a level that will replace what they lost from a year ago. SO OF Reese Albert (.268/.360/.452, 8 2B, 7 HR), SR SS Mike Salvatore (.244/.333/.298, 8 2B, 8 SB), and JR OF J.C. Flowers (.218/.383/.273, 6 2B) were all key starters from a year ago who return. Flowers was an All-ACC Freshman Team member in 2017, but couldn’t quite take the next step last year; the Seminoles need him to take that step this year. JR 1B/OF Nico Baldor, a transfer from Miami (yes, really, that Miami) by way of JUCO, should see a lot of playing time. Fellow JUCO transfer C Carter Smith should also contend for playing time. This is FSU, so talent among the freshman class is never lacking. C Matheu Nelson, SS Nander De Sedas, OF Elijah Cabell, and OF Robby Martin were all selected in the 2018 MLB Draft; they all may well start as freshmen. De Sedas was the 6th overall HS player in the 2018 recruiting class. Fellow freshmen 2B Alex Sanchez, 3B Cade Hungate, and OF Chris Ruckdeschel are all future studs, too.

JR LHP Drew Parrish (5-1, 2.52 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, .186 OBA) is the lone returning weekend starter, but it’s nice when that one returnee is your staff ace. SO RHP C.J. Van Eyk (7-0, 2 SV, 2.86 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .208 OBA) is a walking nightmare for opponents. He should hit the starting weekend rotation this year. SO LHP Austin Pollock (4-4, 1 SV, 5.28 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, .282 OBA) was a midweek starter a year ago and has a chance to move into the weekend rotation with improvement. JR LHP Clayton Kwiatkowski (4-1, 2 SV, 3.18 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .216 OBA), SO LHP Jonah Scolaro (2-1, 6 SV, 3.43 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .264 OBA), and SO RHP Conor Grady (4-3, 2 SV, 4.34 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, .192 OBA) will lead the bullpen. The Seminoles relief pitching will also get a boost from the return of RS-JR RHP Chase Haney after he missed all of last year with an injury. Haney (3-2, 4.26 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .263 OBA in 2017) was a key member of the ‘Noles ‘pen two years ago and should get his share of critical innings this year. FR RHPs Jack Anderson and Cole Beverlin will provide bullpen depth.

This may be Mike Martin’s last year at Florida State, but with this freshman class, he’s set up his successor very well.

2019 Projected Record: 42-14 (21-9)

NCAA Tournament Bound?: Yes

For some reason (probably that 257th ranked non-conference strength of schedule) the RPI hates Florida State right now (the 2-2 record against Top 50 RPI teams doesn’t help, either). That will change now that the Seminoles are getting into conference play in the ACC (the projected final regular season RPI for FSU is 11th).

Speaking of conference play, the Seminoles were lucky to escape their first conference series of the year with a winning record. In the opener of the series versus Virginia Tech, the Noles had to score six runs over the final three innings, including three in the bottom of the 10th, to escape wtih a win... wait, why do I feel like I’m describing every NC State game this year? Anyways, after getting blanked and held to a single hit in the second game of the series, rebounded with another late-game scoring rally to secure the win (okay, seriously, am I looking at the schedule for NC State again?).

The last game out for FSU, a road matchup with under-performing rival Florida, started with promise and ended with disaster. FSU jumped out to a 6-0 lead after four-and-a-half innings, and ended up losing 20-7. Youch.

As for the makeup of the team itself, the pitching staff has two bona fide aces and a third that’s showing incredible promise. The bullpen, aside from one dude (Austin Pollock) and that Florida performance, is solid and deep. The lineup has several mashers and a couple other consistent guys, but - like NC State - is struggling to find the consistency from the tail end of the lineup that would eliminate the weaknesses and produce more big innings.

Despite winning the ACC Tournament each of the last two seasons, Florida State is a team that has under-performed in conference play compared to its talent level. This might be the season that changes and the team reverts back to pushing for 20 ACC wins, but they’ll need to show some more consistency against the top teams on their schedule and not just beat the dregs of D1 baseball.


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Friday: LHP Drew Parrish (JR)

Saturday: RHP C.J. Van Eyk (SO)

Sunday: LHP Shane Drohan (SO)


Key Players:

Offense

3B Drew Mendoza (JR) - .340 BA, .537 OBP, .766 SLG, 47 AB, 5 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 17 R, 16 RBI, 20 BB, 15 K, 0-1 SB. MLB Pipeline’s 47th ranked prospect for the 2019 MLB Draft, Mendoza is the Noles most dangerous hitter. Any opportunity to pitch around this guy is one that should be taken. He’s also no slouch at third base.

LF Elijah Cabell (FR) - .295 BA, .536 OBP, .727 SLG, 44 AB, 4 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 17 R, 14 RBI, 17 BB, 21 K, 2-2 SB. Cabell was the 38th ranked recruit nationally out of high school last year and - as you’d expect - he’s very advanced for his class. Hits for power and average, plus he has speed on the base paths.

RF Robby Martin (FR) - .379 BA, .409 OBP, .552 SLG, 58 AB, 7 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 8 R, 21 RBI, 5 BB, 10 K, 0-0 SB. Another high recruit, although not quite to the level of Cabell, Martin was more of a long-projection type; that is, he was supposed to be good, but not this good this quickly. He’s not the athlete that Cabell is, but he’s going to be scary once he fills out his frame.

1B/DH Cooper Swanson (SO) - .310 BA, .444 OBP, .828 SLG, 29 AB, 0 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 8 R, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 10 K, 0-0 SB. Swanson was one of FSU lowest-rated recruits in 2017 and spent last year as a backup, then started this year on the bench. Since being inserted into the lineup he has produced and moved his way up to the 2-hole.

SS Nander De Sedas (FR) - .295 BA, .467 OBP, .636 SLG, 44 AB, 4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 14 R, 13 RBI, 12 BB, 17 K, 1-2 SB. De Sedas is a rare talent and a future high draft pick. The switch-hitting SS is currently being protected as a lower lineup hitter, but he could hit pretty much anywhere.

CF J.C. Flowers (JR) - .277 BA, .452 OBP, .532 SLG, 47 AB, 3 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 15 R, 18 RBI, 10 BB, 14 K, 3-4 SB. Flowers is having a nice bounce-back year more indicative of the type of success that he flashed as a freshman in 2017. Considered more of a pitching prospect coming out of high school (more on that below), he’s proved plenty capable as a two-way player.

Pitching

LHP Drew Parrish (JR) - 2-0, 3.86 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, .183 OBA, 32.6 K%, 7.0 BB%, 21.0 IP, 13 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 6 BB, 28 K. Has already made 35 starts in his career, and was a 2018 1st Team All-ACC selection. The 5’11 lefty can pitch.

RHP C.J. Van Eyk (SO) - 3-1, 4.05 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .243 OBA, 29.2 K%, 10.1 BB%, 20.0 IP, 18 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 9 BB, 26 K. Van Eyk was one of college baseball’s top relievers a year ago as a freshman, but hasn’t yet found that same level of success as a starter. Incredibly talented, he’ll get there... just hopefully not this weekend - or ever when he faces the Pack.

RHP Shane Drohan (SO) - 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, .167 OBA, 35.1 K%, 26.3 BB%, 11.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 15 BB, 20 K. Drohan has done a great job of missing bats, but an almost equally impressive (in the bad way) of missing the strike zone. His numbers are better right now because of the short leash the staff has him on, typically pulling him before he can get into too much trouble.

RHP Connor Grady (SO) - 2-0, 0 SV, 1.23 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .189 OBA, 29.3 K%, 6.9 BB%, 14.2 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 17 K. Grady has been able to duplicate his success from a year ago as one of the top Noles relievers, even in taking on a larger role.

LHP Jonah Scolaro (SO) - 0-0, 0 SV, 3.38 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, .070 OBA, 19.2 K%, 11.5 BB%, 13.1 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 10 K. That’s an absurdly low opponent batting average (.070) and not at all sustainable, but Scolaro (the team’s closer last year and a Freshman All-American) is a talented dude, despite being FSU’s lowest ranked recruit in their 2017 class.

LHP Clayton Kwiatkowski (JR) - 0-0, 0 SV, 2.25 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, .143 OBA, 29.0 K%, 9.7 BB%, 8.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. Just another top-line reliever doing good work.

LHP J.C. Flowers (JR) - 0-0, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, .176 OBA, 42.1 K%, 0.0 BB%, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. I’m not sure that you can call Flowers the team’s closer, although he’s produced (obviously) every time they’ve put him into a game. The starting CF for the Noles, Flowers was drafted out of high school by the Reds as a pitcher, so he obviously has talent on the mound.


Quick! Fun Facts!

Florida State leads the all-time series with NC State 70-32.

FSU’s win last Sunday over Virginia Tech marked Head Coach Mike Martin’s 2000th career victory. He has the most wins all-time in college baseball history.

The Seminoles only have four players on their roster from outside of the state of Florida; none from North Carolina.

This is Florida State’s first road series of the season.

FSU still has the worst website for baseball...


Prediction

This is a tough match-up of two pretty evenly-matched teams. I really have mixed feelings on this one and could see this series going from either extreme to anything in between. This should be must-watch baseball.

Outcome: The Pack and Noles split the first two games. Game 3 likely becomes a bullpen affair, with the winner being whichever team can save the most arms in the first two games.