Florida State baseball opened up their fall ball scrimmage with a 14-inning scrimmage against the Jacksonville Dolphins today. The Seminoles ran out an 11-man lineup, consisting of seven newcomers. While it wasn’t the sharpest day for FSU’s pitchers, the new faces in the lineup powered FSU to a 14-8 win. Here are our notes and observations from the scrimmage:
- Parker Messick got the start for the ‘Noles in front of 15+ MLB scouts. The southpaw worked two innings. Messick got into an early jam, but in typical Messick style, he got out of it with ease. The redshirt sophomore started his day with a strikeout. A walk and a single put two on with one out. After a swing and miss, Messick induced a chopper up the middle. Freshman Treyton Rank flipped and Jordan Carrion combined to turn an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. In his second inning of work, Messick worked around a one-out single for a scoreless second. He threw 25 pitches (68% for strikes) and struck out two batters over two scoreless. His fastball has been a tick up all fall, sitting more 90-92 with some 93’s. He’s also tweaked his slider to be a power slider, up about three MPH from last year. It now has later bite and is going to induce more swing-and-misses. His changeup, which looks like a screwball at times, is still his best pitch.
- FSU’s offense is going to be completely different this year, filled with new faces and new skills. That new offense was on quick display in the bottom of the first. The first three hitters in the lineup were the Seminoles’ three transfer bats: UF-transfer Jordan Carrion, Tennessee Tech-transfer Brett Roberts, and UM-transfer Alex Toral. Carrion led off with a line drive single up the middle. Roberts introduced himself to FSU fans with a no-doubt blast to left field on the first pitch he saw. That’s what Roberts is going to bring to the lineup, aggression and a whole lot of talent. He only hit five homers this past season, but there’s potential for 10+ homers in his bat.
Toral got behind in the count 0-2, but ripped a line drive through the shift for a single. Following a Logan Lacey single and a fielder’s choice, freshman James Tibbs drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-0 after one.
- Bryce Hubbart struggled with his fastball command and put himself in a hole early. The southpaw walked his first two hitters. A couple of fluky hits, a bloop single and a chopper down the third base line, plated two runs. But Hubbart bounced back and showed off his stuff to limit the damage. He jammed a left-handed hitter for a pop out, before picking up a backwards K. Hubbart’s stuff is a tick up this year as well, as he’s touched 95 MPH and sat 92-94 MPH today. He’s also added a new wipeout slider to pair with his curveball. The new slider allows him to use the curveball as a pitch for strikes and the slider for swing-and-misses.
- FSU put up another crooked number in the third inning. Freshman Jaime Ferrer legged out an infield single to start the inning. Ferrer, despite being a catcher, has wheels on the base paths. Carrion followed with a walk. Roberts roped a line drive into the left-center field gap, but was robbed of a second extra-base hit. Toral beat the shift for the second straight AB as he knocked in Ferrer with an opposite field single. Colton Vincent capped a five-run inning as he laced a two-run single into left field. Vincent really struggled last fall, but has put together consistent quality at-bats and has shown to be a reliable defender behind the plate.
- Dylan Simmons is now a pitcher-only for the ‘Noles and he has really improved on the mound. So far this fall, he’s been one of FSU’s most dominant pitchers. He’s done it with a power sinker-slider combo, similar to that of Tyler Ahearn’s arsenal last season. But Simmons is a bit more polished than Ahearn. Simmons allowed two men on base, but stranded them both. He struck out one batter, using the slider to get an uncomfortable swing from a left-handed hitter. The sinker and slider tunnel well off each other and make him a tough task for any hitter. With the extra time devoted to the mound, I expect Simmons to be one of FSU’s top relievers in 2022.
- Roberts showed off his athleticism to start the fifth inning. The right-handed hitter was able to leg out an infield single on a chopper to short stop. Toral walked to put two runners on. The left-handed slugger reached base in each of his first three plate appearances. Reese Albert plated his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly to left field. After falling behind 0-2, Albert was able to battle back for an eight-pitch, quality at-bat.
- Jonah Scolaro worked the Seminoles’ first 1-2-3 inning of the day in the sixth. He followed it up with a 1-2-3 seventh. He struck out two and threw 15 pitches in his first inning. The next inning, he struck out two more and retired the side on 10 pitches. Scolaro, who was a Cape Cod League All-Star this summer, has added a changeup to his arsenal that has elevated his game. The southpaw had always been a FB-CB-SL pitcher. He relied on the different types of breaks on his breaking balls to keep hitters off balance. With the fourth pitch added, a changeup that gives right-handed hitters fits, he keeps hitters guessing at a higher rate. Two of his four K’s came against RHH’s with the changeup.
- AJ Shaver has all the tools to be a superstar at the college level. Last season, he got just one at-bat as he needed time to refine his tools. This fall, he’s starting to show he’s putting the tools together. Shaver led off the bottom of the sixth with a deep fly ball to the largest part of the park. It fell just short of the center field wall for a double. If the outfielder puts the tools together, plus raw power and athleticism, it will be a game changer for the ‘Noles.
- Ferrer led off the seventh with a walk to reach base for the third time in the freshman’s first three plate appearances. Two pitches later, it was another home run from a transfer addition in the lineup. Carrion took advantage of a 1-0 pitch over the plate and drove it into the FSU bullpen for a two-run homer. The shortstop was brought to Florida State for his glove, and he has shown to be an elite defender this fall, but he’s also showing that he can be a consistent producer at the plate. He has stacked quality at-bats on top of each other throughout fall. No matter where he hits in the order, he’ll consistently be on base.
- Wyatt Crowell is going to be in the mix for the weekend rotation and he showed why in his first inning of work. The southpaw has an electric arm. He’s been up to 96 MPH this fall and loves to work underneath hitters’ hands with the fastball. Crowell also possesses a wipeout slider in the low 80’s. His changeup is a developing pitch that would take him to the next level. He worked around a two-out double for a scoreless eighth. The first strikeout came on a 94-MPH FB under a right-handed hitter’s hands. The next came on a slider to a left-handed hitter in the other batter’s box. His stuff is as un-hittable as anyone’s on the staff. He also showed his negatives in his second inning of work. Crowell allowed two runs as he gave up three free passes in the ninth.
- Jackson Baumeister will also be in the mix for a weekend spot. He relieved Crowell with the bases loaded and one out. The freshman struck out two straight batters with high fastballs to strand the bases loaded. Baumeister sat 93-95 MPH with the fastball. The fastball also plays up because of his large stature and extension down the hill. He also dropped in a curveball in the upper-70’s. He has the ability to throw the breaking ball for strikes whenever he wants. The right-handed pitcher allowed a lead-off home run in the 10th, but bounced back for three more strikeouts. He picked up six swing and misses over 31 pitches.
- Roberts showed off his aggression and quick bat again in the tenth inning. The Tennessee Tech-transfer roped the first pitch of the inning into left field for a leadoff double. Toral followed with a walk to reach for the fifth time in as many at-bats. Two more walks plated Roberts. The freshman Tibbs added onto the run total with a deep sacrifice fly to right field. Tibbs’ left-handed stroke is going to fit well in Dick Howser Stadium. He could be a day-one impact player.
- Jackson Nezuh has been FSU’s best pitcher this fall and he was the Seminoles’ best pitcher today. Nezuh worked a 1-2-3 12th inning with two strikeouts. The right-handed pitcher is a completely new pitcher this fall. He is now throwing in the low to mid-90’s with a new splitter that has been un-hittable. The splitter plays perfectly with the fastball, which Nezuh likes to use up in the zone. Nine of his 12 pitches went for strikes. In the summer, he walked just three batters over 38 innings, while striking out 62. If he continues the work he’s put in over the last five months, he’ll have a really good chance to slide into the weekend rotation.
- Conner Whittaker is going to eat up a lot of innings for the Seminoles as a freshman. Whittaker reminds me of Conor Grady. He’s a three-pitch pitcher with all three pitches for strikes. He showed off all three of those pitches today in a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Whittaker posses a low-90’s sinker that produces a lot of ground balls. His breaking ball is a curveball with good depth that he can use against righties and lefties. The right-handed pitcher also possesses a plus changeup that creates swing-and-miss from left-handed hitters. He needed just 10 pitches (eight for strikes) to complete a scoreless inning.
- Ferrer showed off his athleticism and arm strength to help Whittaker notch a 1-2-3 inning. On Whittaker’s first strikeout, a curveball bounced away from Ferrer. He quickly got to the ball and fired a bullet down to second to erase a leadoff single. Carrion applied a quick tag to get the out.