Yesterday, the fall season began in the northern hemisphere. Today, fall ball begins in Tallahassee. Florida State baseball will take the field this afternoon for the first time as a full team since March 11th, as Tomahawk Nation confirmed with a school official that the Seminoles will start fall practice today.
With the start of fall practice, comes the start of our fall ball series. We’ll have a series of articles preparing you for the 2021 season, including breakdowns of rule changes, position battles, interviews with coaches, and what to expect from Mike Martin Jr.’s second season.
In normal years, FSU would have 45 days to complete 28 practices and throw in some exhibitions as well. But this year is anything but a normal year. Florida State will have until Thanksgiving break to complete their 28 practices (about nine weeks) and not be allowed to play other schools in exhibitions. The ‘Noles are allowed to have intrasquad scrimmages, including two that are limitless on time and will not count against the 20-hour work week.
Last week, Florida State released their first official roster of the year. This year, the Seminoles won’t be working towards cutting their roster down to the normal number of 35. FSU has 48 players on roster and there is no roster limit.
Despite the large number, Meat told me last month that the number isn’t even as crazy as he expected. He said, “It’s kind of funny. I was thinking that we were really high. I got a huge group text going with a bunch of coaches and we’re actually at the low end, with the roster size. I was shocked at some of the numbers I was hearing.” For more on the fall roster, click here.
A part of that roster are three seniors that received an extra year of eligibility back. All three of them will have large roles in leading this team to where they want to go. Here’s quotes from Jr. on all three.
On Chase Haney: “Weird times like we’re in, it’s a huge blessing to have him back because there’s going to be a lot of questions and you know, he can answer anything about the program and how things are going to work and how we got to do this and do that and he’s a great leader.”
On Nico Baldor: “He’s a great teammate, always has been. He’s fun to be around. Works hard and he’s valuable. Played first or finished at first base one game. He’s played some outfield and he’s a good base runner, good bunter. But the main thing is he is an amazing teammate.”
On Clayton Kwiatkowski: “He’s a perfect example of hard work and dedication. Didn’t get a lot of time as a freshman, just kept working, kept plugging away. Out of the same mold, him, and Chaz, and Nico: he’s a great teammate that we can use in a lot of different ways. He’s a seasoned veteran that we’re really excited to have back.”
FSU lost their Friday and Saturday starters, CJ Van Eyk and Shane Drohan, to the 2020 MLB draft, and their Swiss army knife Antonio Velez as he signed an UDFA deal with the Marlins. Despite those losses, the pitching staff will still be one of the deepest in the country and likely the strength of the team. Martin Jr. said, “I do believe that we could be even deeper than we were last year, and we could really run some guys at you last year.”
The Seminoles have many guys that could fill the holes left from last year’s staff, but two names to watch this fall will be Hunter Perdue and Carson Montgomery.
Perdue was a name many people expected to be a high-round draft pick coming out of the JUCO ranks in the 2019 draft, but an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery led him to FSU instead. After rehabbing all of last year, Perdue is expected to be healthy going into the fall. On Perdue, Meat said, “He’s a front-line guy when he’s healthy. I’ve seen him up to 97, the breaking ball, and competitiveness and everything’s all there.” For more on Perdue, click here.
Montgomery will come in as FSU’s highest-rated pitching recruit ever. He’s part of the Seminoles 15th-ranked incoming recruiting class and is the highest-rated pitcher to make it to campus in the country.
On Montgomery, Junior said, “He’ll compete for a rotation spot. I really think he’s that good even as a freshman and in a tough conference. He’s a guy that’s a difference maker. I’ve said it from the first time I laid eyes on him, how clean and easy and you throw in how mature he is and the work ethic. I think he can step right in.” For more on Montgomery, click here.
In the lineup, Florida State will bring back all their starters from the 2020 season. With a shortened 2020 draft, many draft eligible hitters made a surprise return to Tallahassee. One returner that has an important fall ahead of him is Reese Albert. Albert missed all of last fall after shoulder surgery, which led to a slow start to the 2020 season.
A strong fall could go a long ways for Albert’s regular season numbers. Meat said, “This game is meant to be played every day and with his injury, he took an awful lot of time off and it’s not easy to just jump right back in it and expect it to be there. So the fall would be crucial.”
A lot of things have changed in 2020, but the goal for Florida State baseball always remains the same. As team captain Chase Haney said this summer, “It’s just a matter of putting it all together and making a run at the national championship. Like I said before, it’s just unfinished business at Florida State and I want to be a part of it.”