2020 NCAA Top 25 Preview: No. 12 Florida State
Last season: 42-23 (17-13 in ACC); reached College World Series.
Final ranking: No. 7.
Coach (record at school): Mike Martin Jr. (first year).
The good news: It’s the dawn of a new era in Tallahassee. For the first time in 40 years, the Seminoles have a new coach after Mike Martin retired at the end of last season as the winningest coach in NCAA history. Replacing a legend in the dugout is never easy, but Mike Martin Jr. is as well-equipped as anyone can be having spent the last 22 years coaching and recruiting on his father’s staff. He takes over a team with a true ace at the front of the rotation in righthander C.J. Van Eyk, a steady third starter in Conor Grady and a promising lefthander who may have the most potential of the group in Shane Drohan. Catcher Matheu Nelson and outfielders Reese Albert and Robby Martin give the lineup a solid, young core to build around. The Seminoles are a battle-tested team after last year fighting through a tough NCAA Tournament draw to reach the College World Series.
The bad news: The Seminoles must find replacements in the for All-American center fielder/closer J.C. Flowers, All-American third baseman Drew Mendoza, the team’s most dangerous hitter and shortstop Mike Salvatore, who led the team in hitting. That trio combined for 36 of Florida State’s 81 home runs last year and it will need to be a team effort to replace that production. A fully healthy year from Reese Albert should help both in that regard and to fill Flowers’ spot in center field. Nander De Sedas, a former blue-chip recruit, will slide over from second base take over at shortstop and has all the tools to be a star. Replacing Mendoza is the toughest task for the Seminoles. He brought a presence to the heart of the order that isn’t easy to find in college baseball. At the back of the bullpen, Florida State has several options to turn to from its recruiting class, while also bringing back experienced arms like seniors Chase Haney and Antonio Velez. In addition to needing a new closer, it must account for the loss of lefthander Drew Parrish, a rotation fixture for the last few years, though Drohan should be ready to fill that spot.
Player to know: C.J. Van Eyk, RHP.
Van Eyk has impressed since he arrived at Florida State, earning Freshman All-American honors in 2018 as a swingman and then emerging as its best starter as a sophomore. Now, Van Eyk enters his junior year as the Seminoles’ unquestioned ace and a potential first-round pick. A strong year from him at the front of the rotation would help ease the transition to Martin Jr. and go a long way to Florida State staying in the mix at the top of the ACC.
Path to Omaha: The strength of the 2020 Seminoles should be on the mound, which is a bit unusual in Tallahassee. But with Van Eyk and Grady back in the rotation, Drohan as a breakout candidate and a deep, talented bullpen, the pitching staff should be capable of carrying a significant load. Florida State has never had much of a problem scoring runs, but this year’s lineup may take some time to sort itself out. There’s a lot that’s new in Tallahassee, but by the end of the season the Seminoles should be back in a familiar position as a College World Series contender.
2020 College Baseball Top 25 Chat (2/17/20)
Our first Top 25 chat of the season has plenty to focus on, including an impressive start to the season by Michigan, Ole Miss and more.
|C||Matheu Nelson, So.||.282||.442||.442||6||29||156|
|1B||Carter Smith, Sr.||.245||.360||.362||2||10||94|
|2B||Jackson Greene, Jr.||Transfer -- Wallace (Ala.) JC|
|3B||Cooper Swanson, Jr.||.159||.362||.409||7||14||88|
|SS||Nander De Sedas, So.||.231||.353||.337||4||32||208|
|LF||Elijah Cabell, So.||.220||.404||.415||7||25||164|
|CF||Reese Albert, Jr.||.283||.390||.518||9||35||166|
|RF||Robby Martin, So.||.315||.398||.449||4||54||216|
|DH||Nico Baldor, Sr.||.173||.277||.252||1||16||.252|
|RHP||CJ Van Eyk, Jr.||10||4||3.81||99||129||0|
|LHP||Shane Drohan, Jr.||3||1||3.66||52||71||0|
|RHP||Conor Grady, Jr.||9||6||3.64||64||71||0|
|RP||Chase Haney, Sr.||2||2||2.41||37||36||1|
|RP||Bryce Hubbart, Fr.||HS -- Windermere, Fla.|