The Noles are coming off a season that started with a lot of promise and hype but unfortunate injuries and some tough postseason matchups ended the season shorter than expected. There has been a lot of turnover on this team going into Mike Martin's 36th opening day as head coach and the newcomers have a lot of promise and should be exciting to watch. But lets focus on what Florida State brings back this year.
Despite the offense falling flat in Regionals last season Florida State still had one of the best offenses in the country. Year in and year out despite roster turnover Mike Martin and Mike Martin, Jr do an incredible job which is why despite the departure of the players below fans should expect another season where the Seminoles exercise excellent plate discipline and score lots of runs.
Losing half of your team's plate appearances for most teams means rebuilding but that is not usually the case with Florida State. Our staff did a great job previewing the new players in both the infield and outfield.
DJ Stewart is easily the Noles best player and also one of the best hitters in college baseball while Ben Deluzio showed flashes of being a superstar last season. If he can cut down on his strikeouts and be a little more patient hopefully he can move his way up the lineup. Josh Delph's play doesn't warrant him being at the top of the lineup but I guess until someone else proves themselves that is where Martin will play him.
Florida State should be able to find a better hitter than John Sansone, no player has had more plate appearances than him the past two seasons and if he can't get it together other options need to be explored. The Noles will look towards Truluck as their super utility player and Gage West could see some early at bats with the injury to Chris Marconcini.
There is no reason to believe that even despite losing some quality contributors that the Noles should have a down season offensively. If they were to struggle it would be the first season in a long time and honestly come as a shock to just about everybody.
Considering all the injuries that Florida State went through last year and they were freaky bad luck injuries the pitching staff did remarkably well. Established pitchers did very well but what should be concerning is the lack of development from the younger pitchers.
Losing a pitcher like Luke Weaver, who is one of the all time best to ever pitch for Florida State is a tough pill to swallow. Compound that with arguably one of the best relief pitchers in Seminoles' history and you have some big holes to fill. To make matters worse you also lose one-time ace Brandon Leibrandt to the draft despite only pitching in six games last season.
Returning over 40% of your innings isn't the worse problem to have but just how many of those innings were exactly meaningful? Mike Compton slides into the Friday night role, a position that I don't believe he is capable of filling based on his previous two seasons. Over his 33 career starts he has averaged just 5.3 innings per start, if that doesn't improve there will be a lot of pressure on players who have very little to no experience.
Holtmann is a question mark as well due to his season ending injury last year. He looked great prior to the injury and hopefully he can regain that form. Billy Strode can't remain a reliable closer if he is going to issue as many walks as he does. If he can get back to his 2013 numbers where his walk rate was half of last year and his strikeout to walk ratio was doubled of last year he can prove to be extremely valuable.
If you are curious to how the rest of the staff shapes up read up on them here. There is no doubt that Mike Bell has been a huge asset to Florida State in his three seasons as the pitching coach but this will be his toughest task yet. He is now at a point where he has a large number of players that he recruited and is directly responsible for developing. Just how many pitchers come along and make an impact is yet to be seen but for the Noles to have a season that goes above expectations they are going to need it.
Florida State is ranked anywhere from 11th to 21st in the six ranking publications which is fair because this team is not top ten caliber. The Seminoles earned seven first place votes in the ACC Preseason Coach's Poll and were predicted to win the Atlantic Division ahead of Louisville who are making their conference debut.
There is no doubt in my mind that Florida State will finish with 40 wins this season and more than likely host a Regional but past that is up in the air. For the first time since 2012 I don't believe that they win 20 games in conference as their road schedule is extremely tough this year with trips to Virginia, NC State, Louisville, Notre Dame and Miami. The lack of a Friday night ace will also play a factor and cause them to lose games to lesser schools who do have at least one arm that is extremely talented. You can call it a rebuilding year if you like but Florida State will do what it does, they will be competitive all the time, absolutely frustrate you sometimes and play remarkably at others.
Before I get into any predictions, I think it's worth pointing out that this team should be fun to watch this year, maybe even surprise you FSU fans, because the expectations should not be set very high. But that doesn't mean it won't succeed and outplay its preseason ranking. It's a young team; a talented one, too.
I'm with Rays on this one - I don't see the streak of 40-plus wins coming to an end this season. I believe they host a regional and, if the weekend rotation turns out to be what they think it can be, the Seminoles will also host a super regional. Florida State got the blunt end of the stick with its road schedule this year - just brutal - and the 'Noles will likely run into difficulties in ACC play.
Sounds weird with so many unfamiliar faces in the lineup, but I think DJ Stewart has much more protection in the lineup than he did last year and I expect him to take advantage. Watch out ACC Player of the Year and first team All-American.
Sit back and enjoy some baseball - without the monstrous expectation. Don't become too frustrated with a youthful team that will progress throughout the year. Have fun with this one. Go Noles.
Florida State ended a season with high expectations disappointingly in 2014. This year's squad has much less expectations but could surprise some folks in the ACC. I really like the freshmen infielders the Noles brought in with Busby and Walls, plus Nieporte and Marconcini are big time additions to a lineup that needs some power bats to help DJ Stewart. I think the offense takes a step forward in 2015 with Stewart having a monster year and Ben Deluzio taking the next step in his progression.
The key will be in the pitching staff. Can the Noles replace Weaver and Leibrandt with two newcomers? You know what Compton gives you, but I think fans will really like Boomer Biegalski and Cobi Johnson, both are extremely talented and polished for young guys. I really think FSU will host a another regional this year (some have their doubts) but how much further they go depends on if the new starting pitchers can develop and and adjust to the D1 game in their first years at FSU.
There is not much hype with the opening series against the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies who finished last season at 12-33 and 5th place in the Horizon League. The weather should be absolutely beautiful for opening weekend, we will have you full covered, make sure to follow @RodMahoney @AriyaMassoudi @Andrew_Miller36and @dtackett for play-by-play and coverage all season.
Today's game starts at 4PM with tomorrow and Sunday's at 2PM and 12PM. All are available to watch on ESPN3.
If you are new or forgot the structure of the series is as follows, all Individual game threads are posted in the series stream. Game Recaps will also be in the stream but each game will be withing the same article. Enjoy opening weekend and another fun season of college baseball.