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Florida State baseball at No. 8 Miami: Series preview, how to watch, game thread

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‘Noles looking to ride momentum into Coral Gables.

FSU sports information

Florida State baseball is starting to find their groove at the right time, as they travel to No. 8 Miami this weekend. The Seminoles will play on prime-time, national TV the first two nights in Coral Gables. FSU is coming off their best two games of the season and have posted five top-twenty wins in their last seven games. The ‘Noles will have another chance to boost their early season profile against a talented Miami team.

Since inserting two pitchers, Parker Messick and Wyatt Crowell, the Seminoles offense has done a complete 180. In the last two games, FSU has more hits and runs than strikeouts. Over the last four games, FSU rose their team average by 26 percentage points to .240. They have nine homers over that span to put them at 56th in the nation with 1.15 homers per game. The ‘Noles are scoring 5.9 runs per game.

On the mound, Florida State has been dominant all season. FSU is 17th in the country, allowing 6.83 hits per nine. The ‘Noles are 13th in the country with 11.9 strikeouts per nine. The Seminoles are first in the ACC with a 3.23 ERA. In ACC play alone, FSU has a 2.79 ERA and a .203 average against. When Jimmy Belanger’s pitchers have been in the zone, they’ve dominated every team they’ve faced in every environment.

The Seminoles will have to be better in the field this week, after posting errors in each of the last four games. After playing on an all-turf field last week and misplaying some big hops, FSU will be back on a grass-field this weekend. The ‘Noles have a .964 fielding percentage this season.

Miami has had a rough schedule to start the season and have proven they are one of the best teams in the country. The Canes began the year with a series win in Gainesville and have won their last two ACC series after dropping their opening series to Virginia Tech. UM has also posted big midweek wins over FAU and FGCU to push their record to 9-4. The Hurricanes are a consensus top-10 team in the country.

The Hurricanes heavily rely on the top five in their order, as four of the five are hitting over .300. Miami also boasts a majority of left-handed hitters in the order and will likely have at least three true-freshman starters. As a team, the Canes are hitting .258 with a .405 slugging percentage. They don’t have much on the base paths, with just 10 steals in 13 games and five of those coming from their leadoff hitter Jordan Lala. Their 2-4 in the order have nine of their 15 homers.

On the mound, the Canes have a lot of young, exciting talent combined with veteran relievers. Miami doesn’t have a ton of depth on the bump, but they have lots of high-level talent. UM has posted a 4.08 ERA in in 13 games. They’ve allowed a .235 batting average against, but are giving up more than one homer per game. The Canes throw to contact, with just 33 walks in 119 innings. In the field, the Canes have a .964 FLD%, identical to FSU.

Friday 3/19, 7:00 PM

Probable Starters: LHP Parker Messick (3.54 ERA, 20.1 IP) vs. RHP Alejandro Rosario (1.96 ERA, 23.0 IP)

How to watch: ACC Network

Parker Messick has been everything FSU has needed on Fridays after a rough opening day. Messick provided the ‘Noles with another quality start in Greensboro after a bumpy first inning last Friday. Messick is top-50 in the country with fifth strikeouts. His stuff wasn’t at its best last week, as he struggled to get his fastball down in the zone, but still missed bats at a high rate. The key for the southpaw this week will be getting the fastball down, allowing him to use his off-speed for swing-and-miss. Against a lefty heavy lineup, Messick’s slider will be key to his success.

Alejandro Rosario was one of the very best pitchers to make it to campus this fall and has proven why he was a highly regarded prospect coming out of high school early. After starting as the Saturday starter, he quickly moved to Friday after posting a 1.96 ERA in his first four outings. Rosario was touched up in his first inning by UF for 5 runs, but has been dominant since. He uses a low to mid-90’s fastball, with hard running life, to blow hitters away and induce weak contact. His best off-speed is a polished changeup which keeps lefties and rigjties off balance. He also possesses a slider. Rosario has only allowed seven free passes, so the ‘Noles will have to have the bats ready on Friday.

Saturday 3/20, 7:00 PM

Probable Starters: LHP Bryce Hubbart (2.30 ERA, 15.2 IP) vs. RHP Victor Mederos (4.79 ERA, 20.2 IP)

How to watch: ACC Network

Bryce Hubbart comes into week four with the lowest opponent batting average in the ACC. As he’s been in the zone, the stuff has really started to dominate. Hubbart had another strong outing against Virginia Tech. His only mistakes came on three hit batters, two came in two-strike counts. If he can limit the mistake pitches, he’ll have another good outing in Miami. The curveball should be the key and a high-usage pitch throughout the night. He’s top fifty in the country in hits per nine (4.02) and WHIP (0.70). Hubbart has been the ‘Noles best pitcher so far this season, with a 2.30 ERA in 15.2 innings.

Victor Mederos is another highly-regarded prospect to make it to Miami. The big right-handed pitcher has the most powerful stuff of the group. Mederos possesses a fastball which can reach into the high-90’s and sit in the mid-90’s range. Like Rosario, his most effective off-speed has been his changeup. The freshman has given up a good bit of contact, allowing a .279 opponent average, but has been able to keep a respectable 4.79 through his first 20.2 innings of work. He’s walked just 2 batters in an efficient 20.2 innings of work.

Sunday 3/21, 1:00 PM

Probable Starters: RHP Conor Grady (4.22 ERA, 21.1 IP IP) vs. RHP Daniel Federman (8.10 ERA, 13.1 IP)

How to watch: ACC Network Extra

Conor Grady’s ERA doesn’t shown how good he’s been for FSU this year. The veteran has tossed five or more innings in three of four starts. He’s given up five or less hits in each of those. Every time the right-handed pitcher steps on the mound, he gives Florida State a chance to win. He’s been on with his off-speed this year, aided by a tick up in the fastball velocity. The slider is un-hittable at times and his changeup gets better with every outing. If this series goes to a rubber match, like every one this season, FSU should have the advantage on the mound.

Daniel Federman was a dominant back-end of the bullpen arm for Miami in his first three seasons. This year, he made the move to the weekend rotation and has really struggled. Federman started the season as the Friday night starter, but gave up 12 ER in his first 13.1 innings. Federman’s stuff has been down this year. He’s throwing upper-80’s with a sinking FB instead of a firm four-seam fastball. His best pitch is a repeatable slider with late bite. He also keeps left-handed hitters off balanced with a changeup. He’s given up nine extra base hits in 13.1 IP and a .298 average against.

Miami top performers

  • Adrian Del Castillo is a likely top-10 pick in the upcoming MLB draft. Ever since stepping in Coral Gables, he’s been a dominant force. Del Castillo is hitting .294 this season .942 OPS. Del Castillo has one of the best bat-to-ball skills in college baseball. The catcher has struck out just six times while drawing seven walks. The left-handed hitter has three homers and 13 RBI. Behind the plate, he’s yet to make an error and allowed just five stolen bases.
  • Yohandy Morales has been one of the very best freshman in the country. Morales is hitting .345 through his first 13 collegiate games. The right-handed hitter is a line-drive machine that can spray the ball to any part of the park. Morales leads the team with a .618 SLG% and 15 RBI. He has three homers this year to go with four doubles. Morales is a free swinger, as he’s walked just three times in sixty plate appearances. He’s also struggled at third base, with an .815 FLD%.
  • Christian Del Castillo has made an instant impact at Miami since transferring from Seton Hall. Christian is the older brother of Adrian. He won the Co-Player of the week award in the ACC for his performance in Gainesville. He’s hitting .340 so far this year and has just one more strikeout than free passes. Del Castillo has no homers, but is tied for the team lead with 15 RBI.

Sunday Golds: A Florida State Baseball Podcast’s preview of the weekend:

First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM from Miami. The game will be broadcasted on ACC Network. We will have updates in the game thread below, and I’ll have updates on my twitter as well (@brettpn).