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15 days till FSU baseball: CJ Van Eyk looking for All-American season as FSU’s ace

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Van Eyk entering junior season as projected first-round pick and preseason All-American

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida State vs Michigan Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

CJ Van Eyk is heading into the 2020 season with a handful of preseason honors and first round projections. Van Eyk has received preseason All-American honors from Baseball America, D1Baseball, and Perfect Game. He has also been named within the top 30 prospects for the 2020 MLB draft in all three outlets’ prospects lists heading into the season. The RHP heads into the 2020 season as the Seminoles’ ace and Friday starter after posting a 3.81 ERA in 18 starts throughout the 2019 season. Despite the success and all the preseason honors, Van Eyk still knows he has areas to improve and is adding another pitch to advance his arsenal.

The flame-thrower has one of the best pitching arsenals in the country, and he showed that last year with a 11.7 K/9. The righty has a 93-96 MPH FB that has reached all the way up to 99 MPH. The fastball jumps out of his hand with a short arm action and also has some two-seam action on the pitch. He also has a low 80’s changeup that is a plus off-speed pitch and gets consistent swings-and-misses against left-handed hitters. His only breaking ball his first two years in college was a sharp, over-the-top curveball in the low 80’s that he can drop in the zone for strikes on LHH’s or right-handed hitters. In 2020, Van Eyk will be adding a slider to be more of a swing-and-miss breaking ball. He’s just started working with the slider this semester and it already looks like an advanced pitched in the 85-87 MPH range.

The junior’s raw stuff on the hill is hard to top and it’s what makes him a projected first-round pick. Now, he has to take the final steps in his development to be FSU’s ace. First, the righty will have to rein in the walk rate. Van Eyk’s BB/9 dropped from 4.8 to 3.7 from his freshman to sophomore year, and another drop would make him even more effective. As the Friday starter, the Tampa-native will have to eat up a few more innings and be more efficient to preserve the bullpen on the first day of the weekend weekend series.

With the added slider, the Seminoles’ ace will have hitters guessing all season. I’d expect the junior to be more aggressive early in counts with the fastball to try and keep the pitch count down early in games. Van Eyk can get batters out with any of his four pitches. This is the best stuff FSU has seen on the mound since Luke Weaver, and he will likely be the Seminoles’ first pitcher drafted in the first round since Weaver if he stays healthy. If CJ comes out with the same mentality as he’s had his first two years at FSU and a bit more execution, Florida State will be a hard team to beat on Friday’s.