Coming out of high school, CJ Van Eyk was rated the third best pitcher in Florida and the 27th best freshman to reach campus. Van Eyk certainly lived up the hype over his three years at Florida State.
In his freshman season, Mike Martin and Co. used the RHP as their Swiss Army knife. He made five starts, while also racking up two saves in 12 relief appearances. His best performance came against Miami, when he gave up just one run in 7.1 innings. He finished the season with a 2.86 ERA over 56.2 innings pitched.
Van Eyk was permanently moved to the weekend rotation for his sophomore season. After a bumpy start, he turned it on late and helped carry the ’Noles deep in the postseason. Over his final six starts, he produced a 3.48 ERA in 31 innings. He struck out 11.7 batters per nine on the year, while posting a 3.81 ERA. The strong finish led to Van Eyk being named the Friday night starter for his junior year.
He made just four starts in 2020, but you got a glimpse of how dominant he might be as the Florida State ace. In 20.2 IP, he allowed just 11 hits, while striking out 25. He gave up 1 or fewer runs in every start. Van Eyk and the Seminoles were just starting to find their rhythm when the season came to an abrupt end. The Friday night starter felt the Seminoles were headed right back to the heart of college baseball in 2020: “I think we were going to run back to Omaha. That’s always the goal and that’s always the mindset.”
The Tampa native produced many great moments on the field for FSU, but the memory he’ll remember the most comes off the field: “The locker room. I’m never going to beat the memories that we shared in the locker room, plane rides, and bus rides.”
For Van Eyk, this’ll be the second time going through the draft process. In 2017, he was coming off an injury, but still possessed one of the most electric prep arms. He was taken in the 19th round, but didn’t sign. He feels he’s in a much different position this time: “I think I’m in a little bit of a better spot than I was out of high school. Our conversations have been good and productive.”
The draft will have a completely different look to it this season. For many guys, the five rounds make their draft status questionable, but Van Eyk is unlikely to be affected. I’d expect the junior to go anywhere from pick 25-45. The Florida native doesn’t have any set expectations going in: “The five rounds, it’s going to affect some people, I hope it doesn’t affect me. I’m just going to go in there without any expectations and hopefully get surprised.”
For my full interview with CJ, you can watch below:
Van Eyk’s pure talent and ability has never been in doubt. The delivery is filled with ease and athleticism for the righty. He glides down the hill and does a good job opening his hips. The velocity comes from a short, quick arm action. He creates natural whip, helping compensate for his smaller stature.
Van Eyk’s fastball explodes out of his hand. The fastball usually sits in the 92-94 MPH range, but he can reach back and hit 98 MPH when necessary. The FB also has a good bit of natural arm-side run to it. Unlike many college pitchers, he has the ability to throw the fastball in different ways, as a blow-by pitch or a double play ball. That pitchability he learned in college was the most important thing he learned at FSU, saying, “Learning how to be a pitcher, rather than being a thrower and just going off my athleticism in high school.”
The changeup is the off-speed Van Eyk is still trying to harness. The pitch drops off the table, making it a weapon against left-handed hitters. It’s his hardest pitch to control, but with so much movement, it often doesn’t matter. The hard fading action leads to numerous roll overs and swings and misses.
The knuckle-curve has been Van Eyk’s breaking ball since reaching campus. In his three years at FSU he’s perfected the pitch, gaining the ability to throw it for a strike, or as an out pitch. It has late, 11-5 break and often makes hitter’s knees buckle. It gives him the ability to throw three plus-pitches to righties and lefties. The curve usually sits in the high 70’s-low 80’s.
Van Eyk added the slider late in the fall of 2019 to round out his arsenal. The pitch gives him more of a starter’s repertoire, as he told me: “I think the fourth pitch is definitely what a frontline starter needs.” It gives him the ability to use the slider as the out pitch, and the curve as the breaking ball for a strike. During the spring, the slider sat in the 84-86 MPH range. He has recently changed the grip to Jake Odorrizi’s cutter grip, making the pitch a bit sharper. The pitch tunnels well with the fastball and has the potential to be a ++ pitch.
For Van Eyk’s full bullpen this past Monday, see below: