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 pitching recruits will bring to Tallahassee.
Jimmy Belanger has only been the pitching coach at FSU for about four months, but he’s already making an impact on the current staff and the future of the program. While the program already had a few arms committed, the outlook looked quite bleak for the future of the pitching staff. But since he was hired, Belanger has added four quality arms to bolster the future on the mound at Dick Howser stadium. This class boasts tons of projection and a high-ceiling with multiple electric arms.
Commits before Mike Martin Jr.’s promotion/Jim Belanger’s arrival
Carson Montgomery, RHP, Windermere, FL
Carson Montgomery simply is the crown jewel of this class and has been for a while. Montgomery has been committed to FSU for over two years and has participated in events such as the 2019 All American Classic and the Prospect Development Pipeline League, which featured the 80 best 2020 baseball players in the country. The Windermere native is currently rated the fifth best RHP in the nation. The RHP runs his fastball up to 96 and regularly sits in the low to mid 90’s. Montgomery pairs the heater with an advanced power slider, which he can throw for swing and misses and strikes in the low 80’s range. He can also drop in a high 80’s change up from time to time.
Obviously with this much talent, it begs the question will he ever make it to campus? His plans currently unknown, to skip college or not. But if he wants to, he has the talent to go pretty high in the draft. But it doesn’t hurt to have his commitment if you’re FSU. At the time of the 2020 draft, he will have been committed to FSU for three years, giving FSU plenty of time to build close relationships with him. If he gets drafted and signs, awesome for the kid. If not, this would be an electric arm to take the hill at Dick Howser stadium.
Andrew Armstrong, LHP, Buford, GA
Andrew Armstrong isn’t a guy that jumps off the screen or lights up the radar gun, but he simply gets the job done. Armstrong has molded his game around being a crafty lefty, and it works for him. Armstrong stands 6’2, but weighs just 150 pounds. The lanky lefty has topped out at 88 with his fastball, but shapes his game around his off speed and a funky delivery. The Georgia native already has an advanced feel for both his curve ball and change up and has the ability to use them in any count. Andrew does a good job of hiding the baseball behind his back hip and then flings it at hitters from a low arm slot, which makes it hard to pick up.
The lefty is coming off a dominant performance at the PG WWBA tournament in Jupiter which features all the best high school players in the world. Armstrong told me that has given him quite the confidence boost, “I feel like after the WWBA my confidence went up from knowing that I was facing the best hitters in the country that I’m going to be playing against every game in college and still being able to succeed against them.” He also mentioned to me that his relationship with new pitching coach Jim Belanger is already flourishing, “I feel like me and him have a really good relationship and I can’t wait to pitch for him.” If Armstrong can physically mature and add some muscle and velocity onto that fastball, he could be a very tough pitcher to face in college.
Wyatt Crowell, LHP, Cumming, GA
Wyatt Crowell is another lanky lefty for Jimmy B to work with in the near future. Crowell stands 6’0 and weighs 160 pounds. Crowell has a little more sizzle on his heater than Armstrong, reaching up to 90 MPH with a tailing fastball. Crowell also likes to use a slider which he has great feel for and makes him very hard on left handed hitters. The Georgia native can be very effective with the two-pitch combo as they ride the same tunnel to the plate, but split off in different directions before the plate.
Crowell has both hit and pitch in high school and travel ball but will come to FSU as just a pitcher he told me, “I would love to pitch and hit but I definitely focus a lot more on the pitching side. I also have been recruited as a pitcher so sadly I don’t think fans are going to get to watch me hit.” But Wyatt is ready to get to work with Belanger, “I know he is a very good pitching coach so I’m pretty pumped up to be able to work with him.” With the graduations of LHP’s Clayton Kwiatkowski, Antonio Velez, and Jonah Scolaro, the additions of Armstrong and Crowell are crucial to the pitching staff.
Commits after Mike Martin Jr.’s promotion/Jim Belanger’s arrival
Najer Victor, RHP/OF, Clermont, FL
Najer Victor may have the most raw talent on the mound of any of FSU’s commits. Victor can run an electric fastball up to 95 and can sit in that low-mid 90’s range with lots of arm side run on it. He also has a hammer of a breaking ball to go along with it. The ceiling on Victor is as high as anyone in the nation. He stands 6’2, but weighs just 185. His velocity comes purely from arm speed and his athleticism. Victor is a potential draft candidate due to his ceiling and pure talent. Victor is almost an exact duplicate of J.C. Flowers on the mound. He can also play some outfield and cover lots of ground as he runs a 6.54 60-yard dash. Victor is a former UCF commit.
Victor told me that the environment at FSU made him decide to change his commitment to FSU, “What made me want to commit the most is just the environment there. Looks like I’ll fit in good there... I thought about it being a nice place I can call home.” The Clermont native also told me he has lots of room to improve, “As of now, I’m just trying to work on the fundamental part which is throwing strikes and staying under control.” If Victor can clean up his mechanics and find the strike zone more, he has the ability to dominate like J.C. Flowers did in 2019.
Ross Dunn, LHP, Salt Lake City, UT
Ross Dunn is likely the most physically mature pitcher of this class, as he stands 6’3 and 220 pounds. Dunn is rated the number one LHP in Utah and is more of a power lefty than the crafty lefties like Armstrong and Crowell. Dunn has ran his fastball all the way up to 93 and can consistently sit in the low 90’s. Dunn has some room to improve with off speed but that will come with development. Being 6’3, 220 and a lefty throwing 93 is something that just can’t be taught.
Dunn’s commitment was simply the work of Jim Belanger. Dunn had formerly been committed to Kentucky, where Belanger was formerly the pitching coach, and flipped just a couple months after Belanger changed schools. Ross told me that Belanger was a major reason for the flip, “Well simply Jimmy B leaving had the biggest pull to make me leave Kentucky, not to be rude to UK or anything, but it just started to feel less of the fit when I originally committed.” Jimmy B will soon have this talented lefty arm on campus to work with.
Colton Mercer, LHP, Sneads, FL
Colton Mercer is another lanky lefty for Jim Belanger to work with. Mercer stands 6’3, 195 pounds and has lots of room to grow and progress. Mercer has been up to 87 MPH with the fastball but his go to pitch is a big breaking ball. Mercer comes over the top with the curve and puts 12-6 shape on it. Mercer could bring a Clayton Kwiatkowski type of arsenal to the hill at FSU.
The Sneads native also plays football in high school and says being a QB has taught him a few things, “It has taught me how to be a leader and a good teammate. It also helps with developing my arm strength.” Mercer will not play football at FSU, but he’s looking forward to his baseball career under Junior, “The coaching staff is outstanding. Coach Martin put an emphasis on doing things the right way and being a family atmosphere.”
Gavin Smith, RHP, Cooper City, FL
Gavin Smith is another high ceiling, hard throwing RHP for Jimmy B. Smith can run a sinking fastball all the way up to 90 and regularly sit in the high 80’s. Smith burst onto the scene in summer ball this year and was a really popular name around the travel ball circuit. He pairs the fastball with a biting slider in the mid 70’s that is hard for hitters to pick up. Smith stands six-feet tall and weighs 185 pounds. Gavin has a very simple delivery with quick arm actions that make his ceiling on velocity pretty high. With the right development, Smith could be a very decent RH arm out of the pen for FSU down the road.
As commitments are added or changed the article will update. A rundown on the hitters for the 2020 class will also drop today and articles for the 2021, 2022, and 2023 classes will drop in the coming weeks.