A week ago, the Florida State baseball team officially started fall practice. As another week of practice comes, part two of the fall ball series arrives as well. This week we take a look at our first position group with the catchers.
As Mike Martin Jr. was promoted, Mike Metcalf was hired as the recruiting coordinator and took over the role of working with the catchers. Since Metcalf came in, the catcher position has been one they’ve built around on the recruiting trail. The last few seasons, FSU has had one main catcher, but not much depth at the position. That will not be the case over the next few years.
The fall season is important for everyone, but especially catchers. With many new faces behind the plate and on the pitching staff, the fall ball season gives them time to create cohesion.
The catcher position will be one of, if not the deepest position group on the roster. Florida State’s backstop situation is set up for the present and the future. Let’s take a look at what the Seminoles could look like behind the plate in 2021.
SO Matheu Nelson
SO Colton Vincent
FR Sebastian ‘Bazz’ Jimenez
The starting spot will likely not be much of a battle, as two-year starter Matheu Nelson returns to campus. Nelson was a draft-eligible sophomore, but with the draft shortened to five rounds, did not hear his name called. Last season, the sophomore was used in a new role as the two-hitter, posting a .250 average and a .793 OPS.
He tied for the team lead with five doubles, but the HR numbers were down, as he had just one HR in 17 games. With some more aggression at the plate in 2021, his raw strength should start show. There is double-digit HR capability in his bat.
Behind the plate, the Florida native struggled a bit with some new faces on the staff. He had eight passed balls in 15 games behind the dish. Metcalf believes that the passed balls can be fixed with some minor adjustments, “I think there’s a couple things that we can continue to tweak to help improve on that side of the ball. It wasn’t for a lack of work and it wasn’t a lack of effort from him. It was just some things that we need to continue to refine.”
Metcalf also knows after one year of working with Nelson that he’s not going to stop improving. On what he looks forward to when working with the two-year starter, Metcalf said, “His desire to be the best he possibly can and his desire to not only be a great physical player but also a great mental player on the field and continue to add to his knowledge of the game and his physical abilities.”
FSU does bring in some really talented catchers behind Nelson. Colton Vincent comes to Tallahassee after posting a .331 average in two years at College of Central Florida. Vincent will be a name that Mike Martin Jr. will use in multiple different ways, as Carter Smith was in the past two years.
Vincent can play some infield as well, and consistently finds the barrel in games. In each of the last two seasons, he has walked more than he has struck out. Whether it’s at DH, catcher, or an INF position, the JUCO transfer will find AB’s in 2021.
Metcalf recruited Vincent out of the JUCO ranks last fall. On what he brings to the table, the recruiting coordinator said, “He brings a competitive nature to the field of high, high baseball IQ both offensively and defensively. He helps bring more stability to the position.”
The ‘Noles also bring in Bazz Jimenez, an extremely talented and high-ceiling player. Jimenez was one of the better defensive catchers in the entire class. He’s a long-framed backstop with a big arm to throw runners out. He presents a big frame for pitchers to throw to at 6’4, 210.
The bat is extremely whippy with some real pop to go with it. As he continues to add weight to the frame, the pop will only get bigger. Jimenez is one of the most projectable players on the roster.
Jimenez was another recruit which committed after Metcalf was hired. On Jimenez, Metcalf said, “He’s an exciting player. He does a lot of things well behind the plate. He’s got strength at the plate as a hitter.”
With the projectability of a player like Jimenez, development is key. Metcalf believes that development will be aided by his counterparts behind the plate this year. “I think it’s going to be great for him to work next to two guys that have the experience they have at the college level with Mat and Colton. I think that that’s going to accelerate his development and we’re excited about it.”