With all the talented freshmen entering the 2018 season, it will be interesting to see how the FSU coaching staff handles certain situations, as it relates to playing time. Typically, freshman pitchers do not see a large workload in their first year, however, injuries to Ed Voyles and Will Zirzow could open the door for a few of the newcomers.
CJ Van Eyk (RHP)
After learning about Shane Drohan earlier this week, it’s important to point out that Van Eyk has also been touted as one of the best prospects in the country. Perfect Game slotted him as the No. 3 RHP (by class) in the state, and the 19th best in the country. His talent also awarded him the opportunity to play for the 2016 USA Baseball 18U National Team, alongside Royce Lewis (1st Overall Pick, signed with Twins) and Hunter Greene (2nd Overall Pick, signed with Reds).
Leading up to the 2017 MLB Draft, Baseball America put out its list of Top 200 Pitchers in the nation— Van Eyk laid claim to the 117th ranking. Now his teammate, Drohan slid in ahead of him at 107th on the published list. Fortunately for the Seminoles, after being selected in the 19th round by the New York Mets, Van Eyk, as was the case with Drohan, decided to enroll at Florida State.
When asked about what the draft process was like, the Lutz (Fla.) Steinbrenner High School alum admitted that it was quite a “nerve-wrecking” experience. He didn’t shy away from the fact that money was a big factor in his decision to enroll at FSU instead of sign a contract with the Mets. While he and his dad fielded phone calls all day, Van Eyk realized that the next time he stepped on the mound was probably going to be for the Seminoles.
“Just a bunch of phone calls all day not really knowing if they would hit my number,” Van Eyk said of the financial implications. “I didn’t really care about the round, but the money wasn’t right so I decided I would be better suited here than there for not life-changing money.”
Sands helps welcome the new guys
It’s become very clear that Cole Sands is going to do everything he can to help, not just himself, when it comes to the success of the team. Multiple freshman have now stepped up and stated how much support they’ve received from the junior right-hander and former Houston Astros draft selection. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see Sands helping out others. He’s proven that he is about more than just baseball, having been named to the 2017 ACC Academic Honor Roll. Van Eyk made sure that he acknowledged how much he appreciates the support as he transitions from high school.
“Coming into the summer it was definitely different being in classes with a bunch of people. But I managed to handle that pretty well and get adapted through the fall,” he said when asked about the difficulties of being a freshman on campus. “Cole Sands has helped me out pitching wise, understanding signs, and how Coach [Mike] Bell does stuff. He’s been like that to all the guys just letting them know how the ropes work around here.”
It’s no secret — especially after watching the Florida Gators win their first National Championship last season — that the Florida State Seminoles have never won the College World Series. Having led his Steinbrenner High School teammates on an incredible journey to the 2016 8A State Championship, perhaps Van Eyk could be a part of an even greater championship run in Tallahassee.