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Tomahawk Nation baseball roundtable: Questions for the 2021 FSU baseball team

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Answering some of the biggest questions that could face the ‘Noles.

Parker Messick
TJ Messick

The Florida State Seminoles baseball team opens up the season in four days against North Florida—the Noles will take the field for the first time in 346 days. FSU lost contributions from the front end of its weekend staff to the 2020 MLB Draft, but Mike Martin Jr. and Co. return a deep pitching staff. The Noles, who return their entire starting lineup, have high expectations for the season. So what are Tomahawk Nation’s expectations for the 2021 season? Ask and you shall receive...

Which newcomer, not named Carson Montgomery, makes the biggest impact on the 2021 season?

Brett Nevitt: Vince Smith has shown day in and day out for the last five months that he can make an impact as a freshman. Smith is a line-drive hitter that works deep counts and makes pitchers work. He puts the ball in play at a high rate and is never an easy out. He has a veteran approach for a freshman and is a future leadoff hitter in college. In the field, Smith is a sure-handed middle infielder. He’s smooth to both his glove side and his back hand and makes it look easy at times. I believe Smith will be an everyday contributor by season’s end.

Evan Johnson: I’m punting on this question. With COVID-19 rules in place and teams (not just FSU) returning so much it’s going to be super difficult to pick a newcomer. I think FSU is going to play the names you think they’d play and that’s a good thing. Gun to my head? Casey Asman? I have no clue how he’d crack the outfield rotation but I’m grasping at straws here.

Josh Pick: Smith makes the most sense, as he’s just a steady player. He might not blow you away, but he’s just going to get the job done. A name to watch among the pitchers is LHP Ross Dunn, a 6’3 225 freshman from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Austin Cox: I definitely agree with Brett and Josh, and I’ll add that the competition in the infield currently should only work in Smith’s favor. Another name I am excited about is Wyatt Crowell. Coming into a season, you always want to see how the young freshman arms are looking, and he has a ton of potential. His recent uptick in velocity is what is most exciting.

What is your biggest concern with this team?

Brett Nevitt: My biggest concern is that Florida State will not be able to put the ball in play when it matters. FSU as a team is going to swing-and-miss a lot. The ‘Noles averaged over 12 strikeouts a game last year as an offense. With the power potential of this offense, you can trade the K’s for homers at times, but FSU has to be able to put the ball in play with runners in scoring position. The strikeouts led to too many left on base in the short season, which costs FSU in their losses, as they all came by one run.

Evan Johnson: Defense. I’m not worried about FSU putting up runs. I think they can do that with the more veteran lineup they have and their approach at the plate. However, I do not know that can put up enough runs to overcome weak fielding. It’s been an issue for a while in Tallahassee and I don’t think you can fix it in an offseason or two. I’m more optimistic about Nelly behind home plate as his weight loss has him lighter on his feet but I’m very nervous about the infield.

Josh Pick: Defense, specifically at shortstop if Nander De Sedas gets the nod, and wherever a bulked up Elijah Cabell finds himself in the field.

Austin Cox: This isn’t a conventional answer, but it will be interesting to see how positive virus cases and delays could alter the flow of the 2021 baseball season. Because of the frequent nature of a college or pro baseball schedule, shutdowns could unfortunately really mess up a team’s season. How will college teams respond to this? Coupled with more quality pitching returning than in a normal year, we might see a lower-scoring college baseball season.

What would be your weekend rotation?

Brett Nevitt: Parker Messick-Carson Montgomery-Bryce Hubbart would likely give Florida State’s rotation the most upside. Messick will eat up innings on Friday with his efficiency and command. Montgomery has the power stuff to put teams away on Saturdays. Hubbart has the potential to be dominant and be the best Sunday starter in the ACC, but he struggles with consistency and efficiency sometimes. FSU showed last year that they had enough depth to make up for short Sunday starts, and they have even more this year.

Evan Johnson: Messick, Hunter Purdue, Conor Grady. Messick is an easy Friday pick and I like the Grady throwing against pretty much any other Sunday starter. I think Purdue can really give you something in the Saturday role in a year removed from Tommy John surgery.

Josh Pick: Give me Messick, Montgomery, and Grady. Messick is your most reliable arm. Montgomery has the most upside, but he has zero college experience, so there’s no reason to force him into the Friday role immediately. And Grady won’t blow you away, but he’s a veteran head who can throw multiple pitches for strikes in any count.

Austin Cox: I would like to see Messick followed by Grady, with a younger arm coming on Sundays. Really take your pick with the third arm, because the rotation this year is fairly balanced and deep. I think a lot of guys should get a look at starting during the week and even on weekends, with Messick locked in on Fridays.

What improvements can Mike Martin Jr. in his second season as head coach?

Brett Nevitt: Mike Martin Jr. showed a little of what separated him from Senior last season, but wasn’t able to implement all the things he wanted to do in a shortened season. I think Meat can improve on his usage of the bullpen. Sometimes, Jr. left pitchers in too long, despite the deep bullpen that Florida State had. I think we’ll see him base his decision off matchups in 2021 with the deep pen FSU has. I also believe Jr. could put in action more movement on the base paths this season. Some of that lack in aggression last year came from FSU’s lack of athleticism in the lineup, but as they bring in more of their recruiting classes, the athleticism on the roster grows. I’d expect him to put constant pressure on opponents in 2021.

Evan Johnson: Meat needs to be a calming influence at times. He’s a fiery guy and can grind on his players but he needs to strike a balance between that and making sure things do not snowball on the team. Can he be a calming influence after an inning with a couple of errors? Maybe not but maybe he can figure out what the team needs and push the appropriate player/coach to speak to the team in situations like that.

Josh Pick: Bullpen usage. While Meat was better than his father in this regard last season, he still has a ways to go, and he has zero excuses this season with the incredible depth pitching coach Jimmy Belanger has developed.

Austin Cox: Tough to say, without seeing a full season in Meat’s first year as head coach. I will add that the stylistic differences between 11 and Meat, and the potential affect that will have on the team, is a huge storyline to keep an eye on in 2021.

Who will be the most valuable Seminole hitter, pitcher in 2021?

Brett Nevitt: Matheu Nelson will do the most for this team on the offensive side. Nelson commands the pitching staff and is a leader on the field. He’s just starting to find his power stroke and has made huge strides defensively this off-season. Parker Messick is going to set up FSU to win any weekend series. Messick pounds the zone and works efficiently, while avoiding hard contact at a high rate.

Evan Johnson: Robby Martin is my pick for the best hitter. I think he’ll have ample opportunity to drive in runs and we’ll also see an uptick in his power numbers. He also has a discerning enough to handle being “the guy” and having a drop off behind him in the order.

Chase Haney will the the most valuable pitcher because he’ll pitch most every game and give you one to two innings of high quality pitching. He’s poised to have the most impact on a game by game basis and he’s shown the ability to handle the work load at a high level.

Josh Pick: He might not be the most valuable “hitter”, per se, but Nelson’s a guy FSU simply cannot afford to lose. And I called Messick Florida State’s most “reliable arm” earlier, but give me Montgomery among the pitchers for his upside, especially once the Noles get into postseason play.

Austin Cox: I am shocked nobody above mentioned Mr. June, Reese Albert. He is poised for a huge year offensively. We already know that he can help carry an offense during the postseason, because he did it two years ago. And I guess I’ll go chalk again and say Parker Messick as well. You just can’t beat that Friday night ace in college baseball. Let’s all hope he has a Sean Gilmartin-type season!


Make sure to give us your thoughts in the comments as well. We’ll make sure to answer any additional questions you have on the 2021 FSU baseball team.