clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Florida State baseball practice report: ‘Noles return to practice

New, comments

Notes, video, and photos from FSU’s first practices of the 2021 season.

Brett Nevitt

Florida State baseball opened up the 2021 regular season with two practices this weekend. The ‘Noles ended each practice with a scrimmage. Mike Martin Jr. continued to implement an uptempo pace to each practice and scrimmage. As Junior said in his presser on Friday, the emphasis leading up to opening day is pitching, defense, and base running. Tomahawk Nation was there for both practices, here are our notes, videos, and photos from the weekend:

Pitchers

I wrote last week that consistency will be the key for Carson Montgomery and his role in his freshman year. He showed consistency, dominance, and polish in a two-inning outing on Saturday. Montgomery had four pitches for strikes and his usual powerful stuff. The fastball sat 93-95 with run. He was effective with both his slider (81-83 MPH) and changeup (86-89 MPH). He added on a high 80’s cutter as well. He struck out five of nine batters he faced and held his velocity for two innings. The freshman is starting to build up a starter’s profile. The fastball slider/overlay is below, it shows how dominant he can be when he’s executing and sequencing his pitches.

For Montgomery’s full outing, see below:

Parker Messick was his normal self on Friday. The lefty used three pitches for strikes on the day. He struck out half of the batters he faced in two innings of work, while giving up just one hit. The fastball sat at 90-93 MPH. The changeup continues to be his best off-speed, using it in any count against any hitter at 79-82 MPH. He worked in a curveball on Friday, the first time we’ve seen it since summer. It gives the lefty more of a breaking ball for strikes, while his slider is the swing-and-miss pitch. For Messick’s full outing, see below:

Hunter Perdue was another pitcher who struggled with consistency in the fall. Coming off Tommy John surgery, Perdue struggled with the feel and release point of his powerful fastball. On Friday, the big right-hander threw nine fastballs, all for strikes. The FB sat in the 92-94 MPH range. He featured both a slider, which has lots of lateral movement at 82-83 MPH, and a hammer curveball. The curveball was more effective on the day. It’s a two-plane breaker, meaning it has both lateral and vertical break. If he commands the zone with the fastball, he’ll be nearly un-hittable for college pitchers. For Perdue’s full outing, see below:

Brandon Walker was the best he’s ever been at FSU on Saturday. The second-year freshman had his powerful fastball back, sitting in the 93-95 MPH range. The FB also had significant run to the arm side. Walker’s pitchability is night and day from last season. Walker heavily featured his curveball at 79-81 MPH. The breaking ball has hard downward break and is a knee-buckling pitch against right-handed hitters. If he continues to perform like he did on Saturday, he’ll be in the closer mix for the Seminoles. Here’s a reel of some of the righty’s best curves:

For Walker’s full outing, see below:

Tyler Ahearn is another big arm in the mix for the closer spot. Either way, he’ll have a large role. The high-end stuff was sharp for Ahearn on Friday, as the fastball sat in the 93-94 MPH range. He pounded the zone with the sinking fastball. Both the changeup and slider were swing-and-miss pitches on the day. The slider is sharp at 86-87 MPH, with spin rates into the 2500’s. The changeup is a hard, fading pitch at 83-85 MPH. With every outing, the command and comfort level get better and better for the reliever. For Ahearn’s full outing, see below:

Clayton Kwiatkowski continues to be a reliable veteran and the stuff seems to be ticking up in year five at Florida State. The lefty’s fastball sat in the 87-89 MPH range with spin rates into the 2400’s. The curveball is his best pitch, and he can use it in multiple ways. He can land the pitch wherever he wants and be effective against both right-handed hitters and lefties. The changeup was also effective at 77-80 MPH. The veteran is going to eat up a lot of innings with his quality three-pitch mix in 2021. For Kwiatkowski’s full outing, see below:


Hitters

Matheu Nelson was lights out behind the plate this weekend. Since the weight drop over the summer, his defense has been night and day compared to his first two years at FSU. On Friday, he threw out all three attempted steals when he was behind the plate, which you can see below. The arm strength has always been there, and with the more agile lower half, he’s a different animal behind the plate. He also stacked together quality at-bats through the first two days of scrimmages. Nelson could be the most important player for FSU in 2021.

Robby Martin, as usual, is raking to start 2021. Martin had three hits on the weekend, two of which were 100+ exit velocities. Both hits were also to the pull side, including a towering, 370-foot, 106 MPH exit velocity homer. The hard contact has been consistent for Martin all of fall and early in spring. He’s starting to open up the power as he’s lofting fly balls to the pull side. If he can get the bat head out in front and turn some opposite field line drives into pull-side fly balls, the power numbers will breakout in 2021. You can see the homer below:

Nander De Sedas will be a right-handed hitter only in 2021. That transition could lead to a drastic change in his numbers at the plate. He only started switch-hitting in his senior year of high school, and always looked more confident and powerful from the right side. He’s been more consistent and produced hard contact since switching back. He took advantage of a middle-middle fastball for a 100 MPH exit velocity and 385-foot homer of the scoreboard on Saturday. Going to just one side of the plate should free him up mentally., as he doesn’t have to worry ab getting AB’s, swings, and looks on both sides. He’s another candidate to have a breakout in power production.

Vince Smith was the breakout freshman position player and continued that trend on the first weekend back. Smith is a quality at-bat machine. He battles and often makes pitchers work harder than they want to. He smoked a line-drive single up the middle on a two-strike, 92-MPH fastball. Smith has also been consistent and sure-handed up the middle of the infield. He’s deep in a position battle at short stop and second base. He has a really good chance of being a starter on opening day if he continues to stack the quality at-bats.

Dylan Simmons makes hard contact as consistently as anyone on FSU’s roster. We saw it all last spring. The right-handed hitter loves to shoot line drives to the opposite field. He smoked an opposite-field single off Perdue on a two-strike curveball. Simmons bat will be key to the middle of FSU’s order, as he’s an imposing presence for any opposing pitcher.

Veteran Nico Baldor had a really nice day on Saturday. He left the only blemish on Montgomery’s day, as he smoked a 94-MPH fastball for a no-doubt homer. The ball traveled 393-feet and came off the bat at 103 MPH. Baldor also had a hustle double on the day. The senior likely won’t be an everyday starter, but is an important piece to the locker room and role player. He does the little things right, runs the bases well, and plays hard.

You can see photos from the weekend in the gallery below:

For all the videos from this weekend and the rest of spring practices, check out the youtube playlist below: