Florida State baseball is five weeks from opening day. The Seminoles’ pitching staff was #1 in the ACC in ERA (3.45), hits allowed per nine (7.81), and strikeouts per nine (11.4) last season. FSU will return 58% of their production from the mound last season, including Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart, the Friday and Saturday starters. The Seminoles will have to replace Sunday starter Conor Grady (73.1 IP, 4.05 ERA), who was selected in the 18th round of the 2021 MLB draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
Despite a full fall of scrimmage, FSU has not decided on their Sunday starter. The competition is wide open due to the Seminoles’ depth on the mound. For the one weekend spot left, up to seven names are still in the running. For the fourth article of our countdown series, we’ll take a look at the five main candidates to fill out one of the best weekend rotations in the country.
Baumeister was Florida State’s highest rated prospect to make it on campus in the 2021 recruiting class. The right handed pitcher had lots of helium heading into the MLB draft after a monster senior season on the mound, but turned down seven figures to head to Tallahassee. During his senior season at The Bolles School, he posted a 0.63 ERA and 16.9 K/9 over 77.1 innings.
The RHP showed this fall why he was such a highly regarded prospect out of high school. Baumeister works in the low-to-mid 90’s with ease. The fastball plays up as he uses his 6’4 frame to glide down the hill and get extreme extension. Baumeister’s out pitch is his curveball, which sits in the mid-70’s. He can throw the curveball in any count he wants. He also possesses a changeup.
Jackson Baumeister showed today why he was #FSU’s top ranked recruit. Easy 91-93 MPH with the FB. CB for strikes and swing/miss. Gets so deep down the hill in his delivery, ball explodes on hitters. Mechanics as clean as it gets. Development of the CH will be key for the FR. pic.twitter.com/UQ4h4KqNWM— Brett Nevitt (@brettpn) September 22, 2021
Crowell is back to being a pitcher-only this season, and his stuff has only gotten more electric. As a freshman, he posted a 3.86 ERA over 16.1 IP. Taking out a rough outing in mop-up duty at Virginia Tech, the southpaw allowed just three earned runs over 16 IP.
Crowell has the stuff to dominate hitters when he’s on. His fastball ran up to 96 MPH in the fall and regularly sat in the 93-95 MPH range. The lefty can really command his fastball to his glove side, locking up right-handed hitters under their hands. His slider has taken another step forward and has the looks of an elite breaking ball. It’s a wipeout pitch in the low-80’s that can make any hitter look silly.
Wyatt Crowell was electric yesterday. FB sat 92-95 MPH, topped out at 96. Just attacked RHH on the inner half of the plate. Slider was wipeout in the low-80’s with spin up to 2600 RPM. CH was also effective against RHH. Dominant, dominant stuff. pic.twitter.com/qAmzdkOICV— Brett Nevitt (@brettpn) September 24, 2021
Dunn is another powerful lefty that should see an uptick in innings in 2022. As a freshman, he had a 2.13 ERA over 12.2 innings. After his first collegiate appearance (5 BB, 2 ER in .2 IP), he gave up just one earned run and struck out 14 over 12 IP. Dunn had an up-and-down summer in the Cape Cod League, due to command issues, but he posted a 17.25 K/9 over 12 innings.
The sophomore is an imposing presence on the mound at 6’3 and 225 pounds. Dunn can also run his fastball into the mid-90’s and will usually sit in the 92-93 MPH range. His curveball has taken a major step forward this season. It’s a hard CB, at 81-83 MPH, with sharp downward action. Dunn can often get hitters to swing at breaking balls well in front of the plate.
Today was the best I have ever seen Ross Dunn. Showed how dominant he can be when he’s attacking with his fastball. FB was 92-93 MPH. CB has taken big steps forward. Hard breaker with depth at 81-83. CH is making strides as he showed command of it, was in mid-80’s today. pic.twitter.com/VQJnTMnGzQ— Brett Nevitt (@brettpn) October 21, 2021
Montgomery saw the most time out of the guys on this list last season. The Windermere native came to FSU as the best right-handed arm out of high school and the highest-rated player in FSU history to make it to campus. As a true freshman, he won the Saturday starter job to start the season. Due to inconsistencies with command and inefficency, he was moved to the midweek role after two weekend starts. He finished the season with a 4.50 ERA in 28 innings pitched. He had a 12.5 K/9, but also walked 7.4 per nine.
Despite the command struggles last season, Montgomery still has the highest ceiling of anybody on FSU’s staff. The right-handed pitcher has a five-pitch mix with a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, cutter, changeup, and slider. The fastball sits in the 92-94 MPH range, and the two-seam gets plus arm-side run as he takes a couple MPH off. The cutter, which he added last season, has made strides and is often used early in counts. Both the changeup and slider are out-pitches, but they need to become more consistent.
Pitching coach Jimmy Belanger and Montgomery have worked hard on the consistency of his mechanics this past fall. A minor injury led the RHP to have an up-and-down fall, but a shorter arm action led to consistency near the end of the fall.
Good day for Carson Montgomery today. Was mixing his 5 pitches well (4S FB, 2S FB, CT, CH, SL). Fastball in the 91-94 MPH range. Continue to tick up deeper he got into his work today. Just needs to keep stacking good days while being consistent with his mechanics. pic.twitter.com/Ae1vx1zq6E— Brett Nevitt (@brettpn) October 26, 2021
Nezuh was Florida State’s most improved arm this fall. As a freshman, he made just three appearances, allowing one run in 2.2 innings. Nezuh didn’t see much time due to inconsistency with command and a lack of secondary pitches. That changed in the summer when he went to the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Nezuh was named a league All-Star after posting a 1.42 ERA in 38 innings. He struck out 62 batters and walked just three (Yes, that’s a real stat).
The right-handed pitcher always had a high-spin fastball that got lots of swing-and-misses up in the zone. This fall, he also added a good bit of velocity. He can now work into the mid-90’s and sit in the 92-94 MPH range. Much of the improvement came from a newly added splitter, which simply dies halfway to the plate. The splitter pairs perfectly with the fastball up in the zone. His slider has taken steps forward, looking a bit sharper this season.
Nezuh was also FSU’s most consistent arm in the fall. He pounded the zone with consistency, topping 70% strikes in nearly all of his fall outings.
Jackson Nezuh was a fun watch today. FB sat mostly 93-95 (!!!) MPH with tons of late life. His FB just explodes on hitters, picked up 4 swing and misses on 12 FB. 14/18 pitches for strikes. New SPL looks like it’s possessed. Throwing SL for strikes. pic.twitter.com/LT2VRI3Dsj— Brett Nevitt (@brettpn) October 1, 2021
Bonus: Two dark horses for the weekend rotation are redshirt senior Jonah Scolaro and freshman Conner Whittaker. Scolaro and Whittaker are different pitchers than the five above. Both rely on their pitchability for outs, with three pitches for strikes. They define FSU’s motto of AAA34K (any pitch, anywhere, anytime, three pitches for strikes).
For the first three pieces of our countdown series, see below:
Also, make sure to catch up on the latest FSU baseball news on Sunday Golds: A Florida State Baseball Podcast: