Today marks the first national signing day of the year for many athletes around the country. Multiple FSU baseball commits will be signing their names on the dotted lines today as Mike Martin Jr. has his first official recruiting class. Let’s take a look at what the 2020 position player recruits will bring to Tallahassee.
When Mike Martin Jr. was hired, one of the positives was how well he can recruit and what he could possibly do with a full staff. So far, Junior has backed that up with the help of new assistants Jim Belanger and Mike Metcalf. When Meat was promoted to head coach, the outlook of the 2020 recruiting class was quite bleak, as it in the thirties according to Perfect Game’s class rankings and had just seven commits. Since the promotion and the addition of his assistants the Seminoles have picked up nine commitments and moved up ten plus spots in the class rankings.
This class won’t be what FSU is accustomed to, but the job by the staff to salvage it is quite impressive. The staff hasn’t just added bodies, they’ve picked up positions of need with likely openings on next year’s roster. Florida State has 21 players that will be draft eligible in the 2020 MLB amateur draft, so the 2020 recruiting class is crucial to the projection of the program.
Commits before Mike Martin Jr.’s promotion
Anthony “A.J.” Shaver, OF, Clermont, FL
FSU has had a bleak amount of athletic position players in recent years, but with the philosophy changing under Mike Martin Jr., the ‘Noles will become a much more athletic team. Anthony Shaver is the first example of that type of athlete. The OF has run 60 times as fast as 6.45, good for 99th percentile in the 2020 class. But Shaver isn’t just a speed threat, as he stands 6’2, 197 and can drive the ball to all parts of the field. Shaver also has a good enough arm to play any of the OF positions, topping out at 92 MPH from the OF. The right handed hitter is physically mature enough to come in as a freshman and impact the Seminoles lineup in 2021 if Reese Albert and Elijah Cabell depart the OF in the draft.
Shaver is excited to get to Tallahassee and play for the coaching staff, “I can tell they all have a lot of knowledge on the game and I’m ready to get up there and play for them,” he told me. The Clermont native will bring tons of talent to the Mike Martin Field outfield and look to develop his skills under the new coaching staff.
Trey Carter, OF/RHP, Martinsville, VA
Trey Carter may have the most tools of anyone in this class. Carter can run a sub 6.8 60-yard dash, throw 96 MPH from the OF, and hit for big time power in the batter’s box. The Virginia native is a special talent when he connects, often making loud contact with the bat. Carter also has the ability to be special on the mound as he’s topped out at 95 with his fastball. Carter is a prototypical RF with a big arm and a power bat and already stands 6’4, 212.
There is J.C. Flowers type potential here and that’s what he’s striving for. Carter told me, “I think looking forward, I want the same role as J.C. Flowers.” Carter has been committed to FSU for over a year, but not much has changed for him since Junior was promoted, “Coach Martin, Jr. was the guy who started recruiting me and pretty much nothing has changed with our relationship.” With the amount of raw talent Carter possesses, he could be set up for early impact at FSU.
Colin Apgar, OF, Bradenton, FL
Colin Apgar is another guy that will likely add on to the OF depth at Florida State. Apgar is the only lefty bat in this class and has a really impressive stroke. The 6’1, 180 pound OF generates power with a stride that gets his momentum moving towards the pitcher and a quick torque in his hips through the swing. Apgar is likely to fill a corner OF spot as he’s not the fastest guy on the diamond, but possesses the arm talent for the OF, topping out at 91 MPH.
Apgar has also pitched throughout high school and travel ball but will enter FSU as just a hitter he told me, “In college the plan is to just play the field.” Colin also gave some pretty good insight into how things have changed under the new staff, “Ever since Jr. got hired they have been more involved with everything and always checking up on me... I can’t wait to be coached by them.” If Apgar continues to add muscle to his pretty left handed stroke, he could hit a few balls over that RF fence at Mike Martin Field.
Richie Morales, MIF, Bradenton, FL
Richie Morales comes from the same high school, Lakewood Ranch, as Apgar and possesses some similar tools. Morales is a smaller kid, just 5’10 and 181 pounds, but has some surprising pop in his bat. Morales is best known for his slick defense up the middle. Morales has the quick hands to play second base or the arm talent to play SS, as he can get up to 89 across the diamond. Either way, Morales should find himself up the middle for some depth as a freshman in 2021. Morales is a former Tulane commit.
Commits after Mike Martin Jr.’s promotion
Vince Smith, SS, Clearwater, FL
The Clearwater native is the highest-rated 2020 position player recruit FSU has picked up this offseason, rated #206 overall in the country by PG. Smith comes from Calvary Christian, the same high school as Mat Nelson. Smith is a quick-twitched MIF, running a 60 as fast as 6.69. The 5’11, 170 SS/2B is a compact RH hitter that is powerful for his size. Smith could have the ability to stick at SS at the next level as he’s very sure handed and quick getting the ball across the diamond. Smith was formerly committed to LSU, but will now end up at FSU, unless he is taken in the 2020 MLB draft. Smith is coming off of a stellar perfomance at the WWBA where he had a walk-off HR to go with a .350 batting average as he made the All-tournament team and elite hitters list.
The SS’s walk off HR in the WWBA actually came off of FSU commit Andrew Armstrong and was one of just two runs he gave up in 13.2 IP. When I asked Smith about homering off his future teammate he said, “I’m not going to try and brag about it because he had my number my first three at-bats but it will definitely be something I can bring up later down the road to mess with him when we’re both in Tallahassee.” Smith also gave some interesting insight to the new FSU staff, “I don’t know many other teams with the knowledge and experience that we have... I have always wanted to go to a school where I felt that I would max out my potential on the field and I feel the staff at FSU can help me do that.”
Sebastian “Bazz” Jimenez, C, Miami, FL
Sebastian Jimenez is another athletic position player, especially for a catcher. Jimenez has ran a 60-time as quick as 6.87 and that athleticism helps him behind the dish. Bazz is known for his defense as he has extremely quick motions and a strong arm, popping throw down times to second base as quick as 1.89 (for reference, the average MLB pop time is 2.0 seconds). Jimenez has also come around with the bat as of late, showing some pop and power to the gaps in the OF. Jimenez is a very physically mature 17-year old, standing 6’4 and weighing 207 pounds.
With Mat Nelson being a draft eligible sophomore, another good season would likely lead to his departure from FSU after the 2020 season. Senior Carter Smith is currently the backup catcher, so the starter’s spot will be open to just about anyone next year. Jimenez recognized that the chance to start next year has pushed him, “I am working as hard as I can to put myself in the best position to start. I want to contribute to the team.” The Miami native also took pride in his defensive abilities behind the plate, “I am proud to be considered a very good defensive catcher. I work as hard as I can in every aspect of my game.” In recent years we have seen freshman catchers take control behind the plate and run with it, in Cal Raleigh and Nelson. Jimenez will have the opportunity to continue that trend in 2021.
Luke Hatcher, 3B, Cross City, FL
Luke Hatcher is a physically mature corner infielder that could add some much needed depth to the Seminoles’ INF next year. Hatcher stands 6’1, 190 pounds and has a powerful swing at the plate. Hatcher sets up in a low stance and uses his leg strength to generate power through the baseball. The Cross City native has the ability to drive line drives to all parts off the field with a simple stroke.
Hatcher had some glowing remarks about new head coach Mike Martin Jr., “The biggest selling point for me was Mike Martin Jr. He’s a very approachable type of coach that cares about his players, and obviously the Seminoles’ winning tradition.” Hatcher will provide Mike Martin Jr. with some much needed corner INF depth in return.
Rook Ellington, OF, Paducah, KY
Mike Martin Jr. and his staff have put an emphasis on adding JUCO commits to the 2020 class to fill holes on the roster. Rook Ellington is currently at the State College of Florida and will come to FSU for the 2021 season. Ellington is a position player but this was the work of Belanger once again. Ellington had formerly been at Kentucky with Belanger for his freshman season last year. Ellington is a rangy CF who can make an impact on both sides of the ball. Rook led off against FSU earlier this fall and put up a 2 hit day with 2 RBI’s.
With Reese Albert’s likely departure in the draft next year, this may very well be the most important commit of the class. Ellington is a guy that has experience and Mike Martin Jr. will be able to plug him into the starting CF position day 1.
Colton Vincent, C, Palmetto, FL
Colton Vincent is another important JUCO commit for the ‘Noles, this time coming from the College of Central Florida. As I’ve mentioned before, the starting catcher position will likely be up for grabs next year and bringing in an experienced catcher is important for the lineup and the pitching staff. Vincent hit .318 in 47 games for the CF Patriots last year while driving 34 runs in and scoring 40 runs.
The opportunity for Vincent to start next year was a selling point to his commitment, “Something that sold me was that I was going to have an opportunity to compete for a starting job.” Vincent and Jimenez will likely have a competition for the starter’s role next year if Mat Nelson has another productive year.
As commitments are added or changed the article will update. Rundowns on the pitchers for the 2020 class will also drop today and articles for both will be published in the next couple weeks.