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One week till FSU baseball: 2022 season preview

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Position-by-position breakdown of the ACC preseason favorites.

Florida State baseball is one week away from opening day against the James Madison University Dukes. First pitch of the 2022 season is scheduled for 6:00 PM on February 18th at Dick Howser Stadium. The ‘Noles will begin the season as a consensus top-15 team in the country. FSU was also selected the ACC’s preseason favorite by the conference’s coaches.

The Seminoles finished the 2022 season 31-24 and 20-16 in conference play. FSU’s season came to an end as the 3-seed in the Oxford Regional. The ‘Noles were 18-13 at Dick Howser Stadium and 11-9 on the road. FSU won 10 of 14 weekend series during the regular season but swept just one series (at Miami).

FSU had seven players selected in the 2021 MLB Draft. The Seminoles brought in a top-10 class of newcomers to revamp the roster. Here’s a preview of what the ‘Noles will look like in 2022:

Pitching staff

FSU’s pitching staff will be headlined by preseason All-Americans Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart. Messick was the Seminoles’ Friday starter last season as a redshirt freshman. After posting a 3.10 ERA in 90 IP, Messick was named the ACC’s Pitcher and Freshman of the year. Hubbart was a Third Team All-ACC member as he posted a 3.80 ERA in 71 IP. The southpaw followed up the strong season with an incredible summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League, where he went on to win the league’s best pitcher award. Messick and Hubbart will create the best 1-2 punch in the country.

The Seminoles will have a new Sunday starter in 2022. Who that starter will be is yet to be decided. Sophomore Carson Montgomery has long been seen as the favorite after making eight starts in 2021. Montgomery had a 4.50 ERA in 28 innings. He struggled with command (23 BB) and efficiency, but still boasts a powerful arsenal that made him the best freshman arm to reach campus from the 2020 recruiting class.

Left-handed sophomores Wyatt Crowell and Ross Dunn will fill major roles for FSU. Both southpaws are in the mix for the Sunday spot and each has the arsenal for a backend piece in the bullpen. Crowell and Dunn each throw fastballs that can range into the mid-90s. Crowell has a wipeout slider, while Dunn has a hard curveball. Crowell, who is no longer a two-way player, had a 3.86 ERA in 16.1 innings last season. Dunn had a 2.13 ERA in 12.2 IP.

Jackson Baumeister was one of the top prep arms to forego the 2021 draft and head to college. Baumeister has a powerful fastball that gets consistent swing-and-misses. The freshman may need some time to develop the curveball, but he’ll be an impactful arm in year one. Jackson Nezuh tossed just 2.2 innings last season, but he’ll be a main piece for the ‘Noles this year. The RHP was dominant in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in the summer and was FSU’s most consistent arm in the fall. He pairs a high-spin, low-90s fastball with a splitter and slider.

Jonah Scolaro was another ‘Nole that had a strong summer on the Cape. Scolaro was a Cape League All-Star as a starting pitcher. Scolaro, who has made 92 appearances in his FSU career, could be a reliable starter for the ‘Noles, but his experience may be even more valuable in the bullpen. The lefty’s fastball is a tick up at 88-90 MPH. Both the slider and curveball’s spin rates are up. His new changeup has made him tougher on right-handed hitters.

Davis Hare will continue to be a key piece of the Seminoles’ bullpen. When he’s sharp, the fastball is working into the mid-90s with sink and the splitter is getting swings-and-misses. UNC transfer Joe Charles will be another power arm for the FSU pen. Charles’ FB works in the 93-95 MPH range. He also possesses a wipeout slider and a curveball that he can throw in any count.

Andrew Armstrong will be a left-on-left specialist for the ‘Noles. The sophomore didn’t see much action last season but was named to the All-Coastal Plain League this summer. The lanky left throws an 87-89 MPH FB and possesses a sweeping slider that gives left-handed hitters nightmares.

Dylan Simmons and David Barrett will be right-on-right specialists. Simmons pairs a low-90s sinking fastball with a hard slider in the mid-80s. Barrett has a high-80s FB that plays well off a high-spin slider in the 83-84 MPH range.

Kyle McMullen and freshman Conner Whittaker will be inning eaters for the Seminoles. Both guys could be the bridge to the bullpen or a fifth starter for FSU on weeks with two midweek games. McMullen has a four-pitch mix, including a FB, cutter, curveball, and changeup. Whittaker is much like former ‘Nole Conor Grady, as he attacks the strike zone with a fastball-changeup-slider mix.

RHP Doug Kirkland is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery early last season. If he is able to return, he has the stuff of a top-end closer.

Outfield

Logan Lacey will be FSU’s everyday center fielder. Lacey was FSU’s most consistent bat not named Matheu Nelson last season. In 61 games at Florida State, he’s compiled a .306 average and 11 home runs. Lacey will hit somewhere in the top five of the order and provide strong defense in center.

Reese Albert will likely be FSU’s starting right fielder. Albert has struggled the last two seasons due to a shoulder injury, a concussion, and a knee injury. This season, Albert had a full fall to prepare for the season and it’s helped him. If the left-handed hitter can get back to his old self (.283 AVG, 9 HR in 2019), it will be a big boost for FSU. When he’s healthy, he’ll provide the ‘Noles with power and consistent defense.

Freshmen James Tibbs and Jaime Ferrer will both be in the corner outfield rotation. Tibbs has special power and can send balls over the right-field fence with ease. His swing plays perfectly to Dick Howser Stadium. He was FSU’s top position player in the 2021 recruiting class. Ferrer came in as a catcher and is still being developed there, but his playing time this season will be in the outfield. He’s an above-average runner (6.6-6.7 60-yard dash) with a massive arm that would be a weapon in right field. He sprays line drives all over the field and is one of the stronger players on the roster.

AJ Shaver was FSU’s top position player to reach campus in 2020 but only got one at-bat as a freshman. Shaver has some of the best tools on the roster. He has the Elijah Cabell type strength, a big arm, and is a 6.5 runner in the 60-yard. Shaver may still need time to develop his approach and discipline at the plate, but if he can put it all together, he has star potential.

Isaiah Perry will be a strong depth piece for the ‘Noles. He showed in the Oxford Regional that he can step up when FSU needs him by blasting his first FSU home run off Doug Nikhazy. Perry is a burner on the basepath and can wreak havoc for opposing defenses when he puts the ball on the ground.

Infield

Jordan Carrion will be FSU’s everyday shortstop. The UF transfer is a special defensive talent. He can make any play and any throw. At the plate, Carrion is a scrappy hitter. He works long at-bats, isn’t afraid to take his walks, and uses the whole field. Carrion is also an athletic guy that will be a factor on the base path.

Alex Toral will be the starter at first base and will make FSU better at the plate and in the field. At the plate, Toral is a perfect fit for Dick Howser Stadium. The Miami transfer, who hit 24 home runs in 2019, is a disciplined hitter who has been through all the ups and downs of a full season in the ACC. In the field, Toral doesn’t have much range, but he will save FSU runs with his footwork and glove work around the base.

Brett Roberts has the most potential at the plate of this group. Roberts has special hands at the plate that let him compete against any pitcher. He is a contact hitter that has an attacking mindset in the box. The Tennessee Tech transfer also has juice in the bat that I expect will play at Howser. He will be active on the base path, as he led Tech with 17 stolen bases in 2021. Roberts could play second or third base, he’s been working at both throughout all of fall and preseason.

Tyler Martin is still working his way back from his shoulder surgery, but he’ll still be FSU’s leadoff hitter when he’s ready. Martin is a coach on the field and one of the toughest outs in the country in the box. He finished second in the ACC in walks last season and posted a .445 on-base percentage.

Treyton Rank will make an immediate impact as a freshman. Rank can play anywhere on the infield at a high level. He’ll be FSU’s backup at shortstop and could start at second or third. He’ll see playing time no matter what as FSU’s utility man. Rank consistently works quality at-bats and doesn’t give any ABs away.

Bazz Jimenez came in as a catcher but missed all of his freshman season due to an arm injury. With Jimenez still working his way back from the injury, he’ll be working at first base this season. Jimenez will back up Toral and be in the mix to be FSU’s starting designated hitter. Jimenez is a big, strong right-handed hitter that would provide pop to the lineup.

Jackson Greene will be in the mix to start on opening day depending on Martin’s status. Greene is as consistent as it gets at second base. In 51 games last season, he made just four errors.

Freshmen Mayes White and Connor Moore are strong defenders but may need time to develop at the plate.

Catchers

I expect Colton Vincent to be Florida State’s starting catcher. Vincent backed up Nelson last season after coming to Tallahassee from the JUCO ranks. He is a tough, gritty player behind the plate. He has turned himself into a reliable backstop that gets his body in front of every baseball possible. At the plate, he grinds out at-bats and has some sneaky pop.

Oklahoma State transfer Brock Mathis will also see action. Vincent and Mathis could be on a scheduled rotation throughout the season, but Vincent will likely get the first opportunity. After not having any live-action in the fall, Mathis has struggled through the preseason. But FSU knows that Mathis is an experienced backstop that they’ll be able to rely on when the season rolls around. He has power in the bat but strikes out at a high rate.

Season outlook

FSU’s pitching staff is one of the best in the country. It is an Omaha-level staff. It has power arms and matchup arms. It has some exciting young arms to go along with experienced veterans. Behind them will be a much-improved defense. FSU will be improved defensively at first base, shortstop, and every outfield position. The ‘Noles are more athletic and have more depth, which will make them both more flexible in the field and in the lineup. This lineup doesn’t have the pop as last year’s, but it is a much more complete lineup. FSU should be a top-three team in the ACC that is battling to be a regional host late in the season.


For the full Tomahawk Nation baseball countdown series, see below:

8 weeks till FSU baseball: Eight breakout candidates

7 weeks till FSU baseball: Seven true freshmen to know

6 weeks until Florida State baseball: How FSU’s six redshirt seniors will provide valuable leadership in 2022

5 weeks till FSU baseball: Five candidates to complete the weekend rotation

4 weeks till FSU baseball: Four areas of improvement for 2022

3 weeks till FSU baseball: Three transfers will take on big roles in the lineup

2 weeks till FSU baseball: Preview of the Seminoles’ 2022 schedule

Also, make sure to catch up on all the latest episodes of Sunday Golds: A Florida State Baseball Podcast: