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2021 NCAA Top 25 Preview: No. 9 Florida State

Last season: 12-5
Final ranking: NR
Coach (record at school): Mike Martin Jr. (12-5, 1 year)

Top 200 draft prospects: OF Robby Martin (No. 59)

The good news: The Seminoles return their offense in full in 2021, thanks in part to the shortened 2020 draft. In a normal year, Florida State might have expected to lose junior Reese Albert and draft-eligible sophomores Elijah Cabell, Nander De Sedas and Mat Nelson. Instead, Albert formally removed his name from the draft and Cabell, De Sedas and Nelson all went unselected. They reunite with third-year sophomore outfielder Robby Martin, one of the best pure hitters in the country, and second-year freshmen Tyler Martin and Dylan Simmons, both of whom were off to strong starts to their careers. That lineup has dynamic and explosive potential, particularly if Albert gets off to a better start in 2021 than he did in 2020, when he was coming off offseason shoulder surgery.

The bad news: While the offense is returning intact, the same cannot be said of the pitching staff. Florida State lost starters C.J. Van Eyk and Shane Drohan in the draft, leaving some big holes at the front of the rotation. They do return to the rotation fourth-year junior Connor Grady, but they could use a bit more upside at the front of the rotation than he provides. The Seminoles believe that will come from second-year freshman lefthander Parker Messick, who was excellent in the bullpen in 2020 and will now move to the rotation. His velocity has ticked up and he makes for a tough at-bat. If Messick is ready for the Friday night lights, Florida State has the pieces for a strong pitching staff, particularly with the addition of freshman righthander Carson Montgomery, the highest-ranked player on the 2020 BA 500 to make it to campus, and the emergence of second-year freshman Doug Kirkland, who has taken a step forward now that he is solely focused on pitching.

Player to know: Elijah Cabell, OF.

Cabell has some of the best raw power in the country and hit seven home runs last spring. He’s added 25 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame and has been hitting balls further than ever this fall. There is a fair amount of swing and miss in his game and he struck out in more than a third of his plate appearances, but his middle-of-the-order presence is still formidable, and he has game-changing potential for the Seminoles.

Path to Omaha: While the strength of last year’s team was on the mound, the 2021 Seminoles will fit the program’s more traditional profile as an offensive group. A healthy Albert combined with Cabell and Robby Martin makes for an exciting heart of the order. If De Sedas can take a step forward as he gives up switch hitting and Tyler Martin and Dylan Simmons continue to progress, the lineup all of a sudden gets much deeper. The Seminoles won’t be overwhelming on the mound and need to shore up their defense, but they should be deep and talented enough to compete at the level they’re used to and make a run at Omaha.

Jake Burger (Photo By Chris Bernacchi Diamond Images Via Getty Images)

Identifying Best Raw Power Prospects In Minor League Baseball

Geoff Pontes sets out to identify the best raw power hitters in the minors.

2021 Lineup
CMatheu Nelson, R-So..250.410.38360114
1BDylan Simmons, R-Fr..378.489.4863707
2BJackson Greene, R-Jr..190.373.22458010
3BTyler Martin, R-Fr..310.481.43158013
SSNande De Sedas, R-So..150.307.1506007
LFElijah Cabell, R-So..263.488.64957728
CFReese Albert, R-Jr..242.407.51662413
RFRobby Martin, R-So..324.439.41268014
DHColton Vincent, R-So.Transfer -- Central Florida JC
LHPParker Messick, R-Fr.110.7712191
RHPConor Grady, R-Jr.203.0015150
LHPBryce Hubbart, R-Fr.016.488130
RPChase Haney, R-Sr.301.2914200
RPDoug Kirkland, R-Fr.004.50210

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