With the Seminoles’ baseball season rapidly approaching, we are getting a glimpse of the team that will take the field for the opener in a few days. While some spots are seemingly set in stone, with the entire weekend rotation returning and expected to be even better than last season, there remain some question marks as to who will best fill the gaps left by the departure of Taylor Walls, Dylan Busby, Matt Henderson, and Quincy Nieporte.
If things continue as planned and no injuries occur, it is expected that Drew Mendoza will play third and Tyler Holton will be slated at first when he’s not on the mound with Rhett Aplin to take his place when he is. Jackson Lueck should be locked in at left field as well as Cal Raleigh behind the plate. However, the emergence of new players joining the squad has sparked a battle with members of last year’s team for who will snag the job at second base.
Rafael Bournigal, the son of former Florida State and Major League baseball player Rafael Bournigal, comes to FSU as a grad transfer from Belmont University. Bournigal was a top hitter for the Bruins, where he hit .337 last season, knocking in 31 RBI and scoring 35 runs. In the field, Bournigal totaled only 3 errors in 56 games for a .984 fielding percentage.
Nick Derr returns to FSU for his sophomore season. In his 50 appearances in 2017, Derr only hit .225 but drew 29 walks and ended the season with a .401 OBP. Derr allowed 3 errors for a fielding percentage of .897. While Derr saw the field several times in his freshman season, a majority of it was spent in right field, where he had 22 starts. Derr only played at second 5 times and in another 4 occasions found himself in the lineup in the DH spot.
So, while Derr has the experience playing at the ACC level, it is still up for debate how he will play with the transition back into the infield. Also at question is how Bournigal’s bat will translate against top-notch competition.