Florida State baseball is four weeks away from opening day. In a week, the Seminoles will begin preseason training. Last season, the ‘Noles went 31-24 (20-16 ACC) and 1-2 in the Oxford Regional to finish their season. FSU has been ranked in the top 15 by both D1Baseball and Perfect Game to kick off the 2022 season. The Seminoles also brought in a top-10 class of newcomers, headlined by UM transfer Alex Toral and RHP Jackson Baumeister.
Where does the state of Florida need to improve to reach their potential in 2022? See below in part five of our countdown series:
Put more pressure on defense through contact, athletics
Last season, FSU’s offense relied on the long ball and their sluggers to produce points. FSU was 18th in the country with 80 home runs, but 258th in the country with a .241 batting average. The ‘Noles had to rely on the home run ball for their lack of contact and athleticism. As a team, the Seminoles threw 32% of their at bats. Of FSU’s 11 players with more than 50 at bats in 2021, eight had at least a 30% strikeout rate. The ‘Noles’ were bottom of the ACC with only three triples and 24 stolen bases.
Since Mike Martin Jr. hired, he talks about putting pressure on the defense. To do that, FSU had to improve their contact rate and athleticism. This season, the state of Florida should be able to put pressure on the defense after a major overhaul of the roster. Of FSU’s 20 position players, 12 are newcomers. Tyler Martin and Logan Lacey are the only two returnees to have more than 100 at bats in 2021. They had the two lowest strikeout percentages on the team. Brett Roberts had a 15% K-rate at Tennessee Tech (as well as a .343) batting average last season, and Jordan Carrion had a 22% K-rate at UF.
FSU will also get a boost on the basic paths of the aforementioned Roberts and Carrion, along with some talented freshmen. Roberts stole 17 bases last season, 11 more than FSU’s leader in stolen bases in 2021. Carrion stole four bases in 24 starts and ran a 6.63 60-yard dash in high school. Freshmen Mayes White and Jaime Ferrer are also 6.6 runners.
Position player depth
Perhaps FSU’s biggest weakness last year was the depth of their position as players. After injuries to Bazz Jimenez and Reese Albert, the depth of the Seminoles was extremely thin. It was so thin that the state of Florida had to turn to three pitchers to hit. That roster overhaul mentioned above has given the ‘Noles a huge boost to position player depth.
Freshman Treyton Rank becomes FSU’s utility man as he played all nine positions in high school. After having only two catchers last season, including the best in college baseball, FSU is going into this season with four backstops. Across the board, in every position, FSU has someone who can step in and play a role.
Florida State’s defenses improved in 2021, but it still wasn’t at a level that FSU will get to Omaha. The ‘Noles were 10th in the ACC with a field percentage of .968. But outside of Matheu Nelson, Jackson Greene and Logan Lacey, FSU had defensive question marks. Nander De Sedas struggled at the end of the season when he recorded a 0.914 FLD%. Tyler Martin, who was blocked at first base with a shoulder injury, initially struggled with seven errors. In the outfield there were not many errors, but many balls fell in the outfield that should have been caught. The Seminoles have a top three staff in the country, but they need the defense to back them up to reach their ceiling.
Roberts and Carrion, along with Toral, should ensure the defense in the field. Carrion becomes FSU’s starting shortstop and is an elite defender. He had a 0.955 FLD% as a freshman at shortstop. Roberts will play 3B or 2B for the ‘Noles. He had a .962 FLD% between SS and 2B last season. Toral is limited in range, but he makes his infielders better with his glove work and footwork around the base. Martin will be able to play second or third base in a more natural position.
In the outfield, Lacey will man the midfield. The veteran has a huge arm to shoot down runners and takes strong routes to cover a lot of ground. Reese Albert will provide experience and athleticism in a corner outfield spot. AJ Shaver and James Tibbs both possess a combination of speed and arm strength to man an outfield spot in a corner. Isaiah Perry is as quick as anyone in college baseball and can cover foul post to foul post.
Doing business in non-conference game
Florida State was surprisingly a three-seed in the tournament last year, despite being one of the top five teams in the ACC. The ‘Noles’ were also sent to one of the toughest regional teams with Southern Miss and Ole Miss. FSU failed to rank higher due to crucial losses in the non-conference game that was killer for the Seminoles RPI. Midweek games don’t say everything and show how a team will be in the ‘postseason’ game, but you have to trade against weaker opponents to be a regional host.
See below for the rest of the pieces from 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
5 Weeks Until FSU Baseball: Five Candidates To Complete The Weekend Rotation
Also make sure you get the latest FSU baseball news On Sunday Golds: A Florida State Baseball Podcast: