Baseball in Florida State is five weeks from opening day. The Seminoles pitching staff was #1 in the ACC last season in ERA (3.45), hits allowed per nine (7.81) and strikeouts per nine (11.4). 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 by the Baltimore Orioles in the 18th round of the 2021 MLB draft.
Despite a full fall from scrimmage, FSU has not made a decision on their Sunday starter. The competition is wide open due to the depth of the Seminoles on the hill. 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 top five candidates to fill one of the country’s top weekend rotations.
Baumeister was the state of Florida’s highest-rated candidate to make it on campus in the 2021 recruiting class. The right-handed pitcher had plenty of helium in the MLB concept after a monstrous senior season on the hill, but turned down seven figures to go to Tallahassee. During his senior season with The Bolles School, he registered 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 after high school. Baumeister works in the low to mid 90s with ease. The fastball plays up as he uses his 6’4 frame to slide down the hill and get extreme extension. Baumeister’s out-pitch is his curveball, which is in the mid-’70s. 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. Easily 91-93 MPH with the FB. CB for strokes and swing/miss. Going so deep down the hill in his delivery, the ball explodes on hitters. Mechanics as clean as can be. The development of the CH will be crucial for the FR. pic.twitter.com/UQ4h4KqNWM
— Brett Nevitt (@brettpn) September 22, 2021
Crowell is a pitcher again this season and his gear has only gotten more electric. As a freshman, he posted a 3.86 ERA over 16.1 IP. Taking a rough trip in the mopping service at Virginia Tech, the southpaw allowed only three earned runs over 16 IP.
Crowell has the stuff to dominate hitters when it’s his turn. His fastball rose to 96 MPH in the fall and was regularly in the 93-95 MPH range. The left-hander can really send his fastball to his glove side and lock right-handed batters under their hands. His slider has taken another step forward and looks like an elite breaking ball. It’s a wipeout pitch in the low 80s that could make any hitter look crazy.
Wyatt Crowell was electric yesterday. FB sat 92-95 MPH, peaked at 96. Just attacked RHH on the inner half of the plate. Slider was wiped out 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 who should see an increase 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 only one earned run and struckout 14 batters over 12 IP. Dunn had an up and down summer in the Cape Cod League due to command problems, but he recorded 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 90s and will usually be in the 92-93 MPH range. His curveball has taken a big step forward this season. It’s a hard CB, running at 81-83 MPH, with sharp down action. Dunn can often swing hitters as far in front of the plate at breaking balls.
Today was the best I’ve ever seen Ross Dunn. Show how dominant he can be when he attacks with his fastball. FB was 92-93 MPH. CB has made great strides forward. Hard breaker with depth at 81-83. CH is making progress, as he showed today in the mid-’80s. pic.twitter.com/VQJnTMnGzQ
— Brett Nevitt (@brettpn) October 21, 2021
Montgomery saw the most of the boys’ time on this list last season. The Windermere native came to FSU as the best high school right-hander and the highest-rated player in FSU history to make it to campus. Like a true freshman, he won the Saturday runway to start the season. Due to command inconsistencies and inefficiency, 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 ran 7.4 per nine.
Despite the battle for command last season, Montgomery still has the highest ceiling of all FSU employees. The right-handed pitcher has a five-pitch mix with a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, cutter, changeup and slider. The fastball is in the 92-94 MPH range, and the two-seam gets plus arm-side run when it racks up a few MPH. The cutter, which he added last season, has progressed and is often deployed early in counts. Both the change-up and slider are out-pitch, but they need to be more consistent.
Pitching coach Jimmy Belanger and Montgomery have been working hard on the consistency of his mechanics this past fall. A minor injury caused the RHP to fall up and down, but a shorter arm action led to consistency towards 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. Continuing to tap deeper he went into his work today. He just needs to keep piling good days while being consistent with his mechanics. pic.twitter.com/Ae1vx1zq6E
— Brett Nevitt (@brettpn) October 26, 2021
Nezuh was the state of Florida’s most improved arm this fall. As a freshman, he made only three appearances and gave up 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 moved to the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Nezuh was named All-Star in the league after posting a 1.42 ERA in 38 innings. He struckout 62 batters and walked only three (yes, that’s a real statistic).
The right-handed pitcher always had a high-spin fastball that yielded a lot of swing-and-misses in the zone. This fall, he also added quite a bit of speed. It can now operate into the mid 90s and be in the 92-94 MPH range. Much of the improvement came from a newly added splitter, which just dies halfway through the record. The splitter fits perfectly with the fastball in the zone. His slider has taken steps forward and looks a bit sharper this season.
Nezuh was also FSU’s most consistent arm in the fall. He hit the zone with consistency, with over 70% strikes in nearly all of his falls.
Jackson Nezuh was a nice watch today. FB was mostly 93-95 (!!!) MPH with a lot of late life. His FB just explodes on hitters, picked up 4 swing and misses on 12 FB. 14/18 places 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 red shirt 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).
See below for the first three pieces of our countdown series:
8 Weeks Until FSU Baseball: Eight Breakthrough Candidates
7 Weeks Until FSU Baseball: Seven Real Freshmen To Know
6 Weeks to Florida State Baseball: How FSU’s Six Red Shirts Will Provide Seniors with Valuable Leadership in 2022
Also make sure you get the latest FSU baseball news On Sunday Golds: A Florida State Baseball Podcast: