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25 days till FSU baseball: Doug Kirkland to start FSU career in the pen

Fastball-slider combo makes Kirkland a tough at-bat for right-handed hitters / Haylee Blitch

Doug Kirkland came to FSU as a catcher, but a talented arm caught Mike Martin Jr.’s eye when he got to campus. Kirkland comes to FSU from Orlando, Florida and TNXL Academy with high school teammates Danny Andzel and Tyrell Brewer. The Florida-native stands 5’11 and weighs 192 pounds and comes into FSU as the 41st rated catcher in Florida. You can likely forget seeing the freshman behind the plate this season, unless Matheu Nelson or Carter Smith come down with an injury. The switch from catcher to pitcher had a little to do with struggles with the bat, but mostly domination with the ball in his hand.

The freshman put in work on the hill in the fall. Kirkland struck out eight batters in just 3.2 innings and gave up no earned runs. The righty also gave up just one hit in his three fall appearances. The one concern with the freshman is his control, as he walked four batters in less than four innings of work. If he can get it under control, he will make an impact as a freshman. At the plate, the right-handed hitter went 1-11 with two walks, two RBI, and five strikeouts in the fall.

On the hill, the stuff is nasty for Kirkland, even earning him a JC Flowers comparison from Meat. Kirkland regularly sits in the 91-93 MPH with his fastball and can run it up to 94 from time-to-time. His strikeout pitch is a mid-80’s slider that has hard biting action and makes it hard to pick up off the fastball. He can also drop in a big curveball at 76-77 when he needs to keep the hitter off balance.

The key for the freshman will be fastball command. If he can get ahead in the count and use his slider to get swings-and-misses, we will see a lot of the freshman in 2020. If he gets himself behind and has to work mainly with the fastball, he could get in trouble and not see much action in 2020. Either way, the future on the mound looks bright for the freshman. He has a quick arm action and still room to fill out with muscle and add on some more velocity. If he can find the zone more often, he could be a weapon for Jimmy Belanger in 2020 and down the road.

FSU was ranked #12 by the second different outlet on Monday morning, as Baseball America dropped their preseason rankings. The ‘Noles have now been ranked in the top 14 in three separate polls.