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Florida State baseball practice report: First live looks

‘Noles newcomers impress, pitching staff stacked with power.

Brett Nevitt

Florida State baseball’s fall practice is in full swing and we got our first looks at the team this Friday and Sunday as the ‘Noles scrimmaged. The ‘Noles currently have 48 guys on roster, and scrimmaging will be a key to what guys come out of the pack as contributors. Over the weekend, there were tons of positives to take away. Here are my notes from the two scrimmages, including videos and gifs.

  • Florida State is going to run a gauntlet of arms out on the mound in 2021. Jimmy Belanger has options on options this year. Last year, the weekend rotation was pretty clear cut and announced by the end of fall season. That will not be the case this year. I walked away from the weekend thinking there are at least six capable weekend arms. There’s going to be a combination of pure power and matchup nightmares up and down the rotation. This weekend alone, I saw six arms hit at least 94 MPH. Between the young pups and the veterans, this will be one of the deepest staffs in the nation.
  • Last season, the ‘Noles were close to a complete team, but just had no defense at times. A lot of that came from the middle infield. Florida State has the depth and abilities across the infield that they shouldn’t struggle in 2021. Over two scrimmages, the ‘Noles played decent to great defense the entire time. Up the middle Nander De Sedas flashed multiple times with big time plays. The defense will come down to consistency and the ability to make the routine play.
  • RHP’s Hunter Perdue and Carson Montgomery were electric on Sunday. Perdue is a big, lanky figure on the mound and gets deep down the hill for a long release point. The fastball jumps out of his hand, and he sat 93-95 MPH while dotting the black. He also spun a high-spin, wipeout slider at 79-82 MPH. He comes down the hill with a loose, athletic delivery and also hides the ball well behind his back hip.

Montgomery looked much improved with his consistency and off-speed since I saw him in the summer. He ran his fastball up to 97 MPH, while sitting in the 93-96 MPH range. The changeup has taken a big step forward since the summer. When he gets on top of the slider, it’s dynamite, but he can lose it high from time-to-time. As he continues to find more consistency, he’ll be a top of the line starter.

  • Florida State is bringing in two power lefties in Wyatt Crowell and Ross Dunn. Crowell has a smaller stature, but some of the most present arm speed on the team. He ran his fastball up to 94 MPH, sitting in the 91-93 range. He also featured a high-spin, frisbee slider that was in the low 80’s.

Dunn is a big presence on the mound with a workhorse build. He started game one on Friday, sitting 90-93 with his fastball. He also slider in the low 80’s, paired with an effective changeup. Both of these lefties should carve themselves roles in 2021 with consistency this fall.

  • Doug Kirkland and Jackson Nezuh are two reliever types that ran it up on the gun this weekend. Kirkland sat 93-95 in his one inning of work, paired with two breaking balls. He featured both a slider, in the mid 80’s, and a CB in the low 80’s. Along with some of the top velo’s, he posted the highest spin rates of any FSU pitcher, with the CB registering a spin rate into the 2900’s.

Nezuh looked much improved from the summer when he was topping out at 91. His fastball sat 91-93, and topped out at 94. He looked much less stiff in his delivery and in command of the zone. He also worked in a slider in the mid-70’s.

  • Kyle McMullen and Chris Ruckdeschel have both been on roster the last two years, but haven’t thrown an inning in the regular season. McMullen has been recovering from a shoulder injury late in 2018. He looked healthy on Sunday as he sat 92-93 with his fastball, paired with a hammer CB at 76-77 MPH that he landed for strikes over and over. He still looks a bit rusty, as he struggled with the FB command, but as the feel comes back, he’ll be in the mix in 2021.

Ruckdeschel has been developing on the mound for two years since coming in as an outfielder. That position change looks to have paid off. Ruckdeschel sat 91-93 with hard tail on his fastball. He also threw a mid 80’s cutter and a mid 70’s slurve. He presents a tough look for hitters, as he has a cross-fire delivery.

  • FSU has two transfers competing on the for the first base spot with Dylan Simmons. Garrett Mathes was a pitcher only at Mercer, but hit .392 and .324 with 9 combines HR’s in two seasons at Santa Fe. Mathes is back to hitting at FSU. He has a simple, wide set up with a short load and direct swing. He put together a few good AB’s, including a 97 MPH exit velocity single up the middle below.

JUCO-transfer Casey Asman had a really nice day on Sunday. The lefty connected on two 100+ exit velocity hits, one for a double and an opposite field single below. Asman is quite athletic and can also create some havoc on the bases. He’s got a quick trigger and quick hands that will create consistent hard contact.

  • Freshman Vince Smith’s approach really impressed at the plate. He keeps it simple and battles down in counts. He shortens up, spreads out his stance, and chokes up on two-strike counts. He had lots of good takes on breaking balls in the dirt, and was aggressive early in counts on fastballs. He’ll be a large part of the position battles going on in the infield.
  • There’s a lot of names that could be penciled in as the starter at second base on opening day. Ryan Romano, Jackson Greene, and Danny Andzel all did good things over the weekend.

Greene took an inside fastball off the RF fence for a double.

Romano had a loud out to the LF warning track and a couple hits.

Andzel also produced a hit and continued to flash as a defender. The depth across the infield is going to be a weapon for Meat in 2021.

  • FSU’s veteran hitters did their thing throughout the two games. Reese Albert looked like his old self as he produced the highlight of the weekend. The junior took a hanging two-strike changeup 23 of the way up a light tower over the RF fence. With a full fall, Albert could be in for a big 2021.

Robby Martin and Matheu Nelson both look significantly slimmed down. Martin made a leaping catch at the wall in RF and doubled a runner off of first for one of the defensive highlights. He also continued his thing at the plate, ripping multiple line drive singles up the middle.

Nelson had Friday’s scrimmage off, but was pestering the RF fence during BP. He looked great behind the plate on Sunday. He was moving around well and extremely light on his feet.

  • AJ Shaver was FSU’s highest rated high school position player in the class. He showed those tools despite struggling in Friday’s scrimmage. He put up one of the best rounds of batting practice, shooting line drive after line drive to right and center field. In game on Sunday, he had two 100+ exit velos, including the top of the week at 111 MPH on a double off the RCF wall.
  • Freshman catcher Bazz Jimenez was quite impressive on both sides of the ball. Jimenez struggled some with receiving some of FSU’s pitchers with more movement, but showed off his best tool in his arm. He gunned down multiple runners, including two in one inning. He presents a large frame to pitchers and is going to steal a lot of strikes in the future. He’s an imposing presence in the box and is going to be a consistent line drive hitter. He had multiple hard hit balls between the two days. As he adds to the frame, the ceiling is as high as it gets.
  • Third basemen Tyler Martin and Logan Lacey both continued doing their things. Martin put together good at bats all weekend, including two hits on Sunday. He also made a high IQ play in the field to end the day.

Lacey has an aggressive approach at the plate, ripping fastballs when he gets them. He stroked a leadoff double down the LF line on the first fastball he saw on Friday. He also looks extremely comfortable at third and his arm may be his biggest strength.

For all videos from the weekend, and all videos the rest of fall, see the youtube playlist below:

For some photos from practice, see the gallery below: