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Florida State baseball practice notebook: 2/3-2/7

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Hitters take a major step forward in week two of practice.

Florida State baseball is just nine days away from taking the field on opening day against North Florida. This past week of scrimmages was a very good one for the Seminoles. It was a week of back-and-forth battles between pitchers and hitters. After struggling week one, the hitters flexed their muscles in week two. Our notes and video from week two of practice are below.

Pitchers

  • For the second straight week, Carson Montgomery is the first name I’ll mention in this piece. Montgomery has been the winner of spring so far. He’s been consistent, powerful, efficient, etc. The freshman seemingly gets better every time he touches the mound. Montgomery sat in the 91-94 MPH range with his fastball for three innings of work on Saturday. The fastball has heavy riding life on it, which can even break metal bats.

The slider has been his biggest improvement since fall. He’s landing the 81-83 MPH breaking ball whenever he wants, and also getting swing-and-misses with it. The changeup keeps left-handed hitters guessing at all times, with hard fading life in the 86-89 MPH range. Montgomery has built a true starter’s profile and has set himself up to grab a weekend spot at the start of the regular season.

  • Parker Messick has been dominant through two outings this spring. Through three innings of work, he gave up just two hits, while striking out six of 11 batters. The lefty is also yet to walk a batter through two weeks of practice. The fastball sat 89-92 for the length of the outing. The new curveball gets better and better each outing. The curveball has really opened up his ability to use the slider and changeup as swing-and-miss pitches. The consistency and dominance of Messick is why he’s likely to be FSU’s ace this season.
  • Chase Haney was doing normal Dr. Haney things this weekend. Haney faced seven batters through two innings of work, striking out four and giving up just one hit. It’s rare to see the big righty miss spots. He gets better and better as the years go by. His sinking fastball was in the 85-86 MPH range, pairing with the sweeping slider at 73-75 MPH. He also is using his changeup at a higher rate this year. A more consistent changeup will help Haney against lefties, and keep hitters from guessing between the FB and SL.
  • Ross Dunn presents a lot to like on the hill. The build, the arsenal, and projection are all easy to dream on. Dunn was pounding the zone and hitting his spots on Wednesday in two innings of dominant work. The freshman’s fastball sat 91-93 MPH through two innings of work. The curveball is a plus breaking ball, with hard, downhill action at 80-82 MPH. As his changeup develops, Dunn will really start to miss a lot of bats. The freshman is a likely future weekend starter for the ‘Noles.
  • Hunter Perdue was once again on top of his stuff on Saturday. Perdue was nailing all of his spots on both sides of the plate with his fastball. Through two innings, the fastball sat 93-95 MPH with high spin rates up to the 2500’s. The curveball can be used in any count against any hitter, exactly what Jimmy Belanger wants out of his pitchers. He used his changeup a bit more in his past outing, which could be the last piece of the puzzle for Perdue. Out of FSU’s potential closer options, Perdue has been the most consistent so far this spring, putting him as the favorite with a few more scrimmages left.
  • Davis Hare’s stuff is getting better by the week. The big RHP’s fastball sat in the 91-93 MPH range for both of his outings this week. In a one-inning setting, Hare can run it up to 95-96 MPH consistently. The splitter is the dynamite pitch for Hare, but can sometimes be consistent as it’s a hard pitch to control. When he’s on with it, he’s nearly unhittable. Hare’s curveball has taken major steps forward this fall, which will give him more room for error with the fastball. Hare will be another power arm contributor out of the pen.

Hitters

  • Matheu Nelson has been every bit of awesome through two weeks of practice. The catcher completed the cycle over the course of three scrimmages with a homer, triple, double, and single. His raw power is really starting to show on an everyday basis since his weight drop. The homer he hit was a two-strike slider out of the zone, which he poked off the scoreboard. He’s looser at the plate which has quickened up his bat, leading to consistent hard contact.

As good as he’s been offensively, he’s been just as good defensively. Nelson is throwing out runners at a high rate and blocking balls with ease. The third-year catcher is in full command of this pitching staff. His intangibles behind the plate are as good as they come.

  • Reese Albert stacked together multiple good AB’s this weekend. The outfielder is seeing the ball as well as anyone on the roster right now. He got all of a slider for a 106 MPH exit velocity homer over the left field fence. Albert isn’t swinging and missing much right now, working many deep counts and consistently working his way on base. He looks as confident and as locked in as he’s ever been in his time at Florida State.
  • Elijah Cabell struggled week one of practice. Cabell didn’t see many live AB’s this fall due to a lower body injury. He took some major steps forward this past weekend. Cabell put the ball in play at a high rate, including two hits with exit velocities of 108+ MPH on Sunday. Even when he misses the barrel, Cabell has the power to still put balls off the right field fence. Cabell is still dealing with a hamstring injury which Mike Martin Jr. brought up in his presser a couple weeks ago. He is hitting, but not running the bases nor taking the field in live action.
  • Dylan Simmons was nearly unstoppable at the plate this weekend. Simmons produced line drive after line drive. The second year freshman had multiple 100+ exit velocities. The first baseman was FSU’s most consistent hitter last year and it’s looking like that could be the same story in 2021. He also has taken some major steps forward at first base. The full fall of practice has made him look much more comfortable and natural at first this spring.
  • Jackson Greene was a thorn in the side of FSU pitchers all weekend. The first clip below was the best AB of the weekend, smashing a fastball off the RF fence for a two-strike double (you can hear Meat’s excitement with the AB). Greene had multiple hits in all three scrimmages over the weekend. He struggled at the plate last season, but was a .300+ hitter in the JUCO ranks before coming to FSU. Greene has moved his hands lower and back in his stance this spring, which has led to much more consistency at the plate.
  • With every practice, Nander De Sedas’ confidence and comfort seemingly grows. He’s making consistent hard contact at a high-rate. De Sedas has taken an aggressive approach at the plate the last couple weeks, which has helped him stay out of bad counts. The short stop is a completely different hitter on the right side. He ripped a changeup down the left field line for a double on Friday, one of a few hits on the weekend.
  • Cooper Swanson was another hitter with multiple 100+ exit velocities on the weekend. He got all of a middle, middle fastball for an opposite field bomb below. Swanson will always possess some of the most raw power on this roster and in the conference. He’s shown the ability to move all around the field and impact the game in multiple ways this spring. Despite his large stature, Swanson is also one of the fastest runners on FSU’s roster. Swanson may not be an everyday starter, but he could be a major factor as a utility man in 2021.
  • Freshman AJ Shaver had a really nice weekend at the plate, showing off the raw tools that mare him the highest rated bat in FSU’s 2020 recruiting class. The freshman had multiple 105+ exit velocities hits, including this single which came off the bat at 109 MPH. Shaver likely won’t see much time this season, due to FSU’s talent in the outfield, but is a key piece to Florida State’s future.

For all videos from the first two weeks of spring practice, check out the youtube playlist below:

For more talk on last week’s practice and scrimmages, make sure to check out the latest episode of Sunday Golds: A Florida State Baseball podcast. We also spoke to Parker Messick and broke down the pitching staff.