College Preview Capsules: No. 21 Florida State

Michael Lananna

Head coach Mike Martin knows he has his work cut out for him this season—all it takes is a quick glance at Florida State’s roster.

“When you lose two of your top three starters and your closer and your shortstop, it’s definitely a year in which you have to have patience,” Martin said.

The Seminoles will no longer have ace righthander Luke Weaver and lefthander Brandon Leibrandt heading up the rotation. The left side of the infield is vacated by the losses of shortstop Justin Gonzalez and third baseman Jose Brizuela. And the closer, Jameis Winston, is off to try his hand in the National Football League.

D.J. Stewart
D.J. Stewart (Photo by Cliff Welch)

But the Seminoles do retain an important piece in junior outfielder D.J. Stewart, the ACC’s player of the year a season ago and a surefire high draft pick. He’s someone Martin and the Seminoles will lean on.

“I expect him to show the same work ethic, the same attitude, the same approach to the game that he has shown the previous two years,” Martin said. “He’s an outstanding athlete, very competitive, and obviously the guy you look at if you’re in the other dugout. You’re looking at D.J. Stewart.”

The supporting cast around Stewart will certainly look different than it did a season ago. At third, sophomore Hank Truluck—who started just three games last season—will battle freshman Dylan Busby for playing time. Switch-hitting freshman Taylor Walls gave Martin “good vibes” during the fall and projects to bat at the top of the order. And Duke transfer Chris Marconcini brings some pop to first base.

The rotation is a little more up in the air.

Mike Compton (Photo by Cliff Welch)
Mike Compton (Photo by Cliff Welch)

“There’s no doubt that’s the pieces of the puzzle that we haven’t figured out yet,” Martin said. “We have (redshirt junior) Mike Compton. He’s going to be very important to us. Michael is the only returning rotation guy. And we have (senior) Bryant Holtmann pitching a little in the rotation last year before he got hurt.”

The Seminoles will turn to freshmen to round out the rest of the group. Righthander Boomer Biegalski showed poise and command in the fall. Not overpowering, Biegalski dots the corners with a low 90s fastball, mixing in a slider and changeup. Righthander Cobi Johnson was Florida State’s top recruit in a top-10 class and has a higher ceiling, touching 93-94.

“The guy knows what he’s doing,” Martin said. “I’ve been very impressed with his work ethic, and he’ll hopefully do nothing but get better.”

Obviously, there’s talent at Martin’s disposal. But Florida State is also seeping with youth and will need its freshmen to contribute from the get-go.

“We’re going to go through some tough spurts as we always do,” Martin said. “And sometimes with a young club it’s very important that we understand that good lord willing there’s still tomorrow and we can’t get down on ourselves.”