FSU coach Mike Martin talks about his excitement for the opening day of the 2019 season.
Wayne McGahee III, Tallahassee Democrat
Florida State’s 2019 baseball season starts Friday.
The No. 11 Seminoles open up with a four-game series against Maine that starts at 4 p.m. Friday. They will play a doubleheader Saturday starting at noon and will finish up the series at 1 p.m. Sunday.
FSU coach Mike Martin will be going through this process for the 40th and final time. He plans to retire following the season.
But before that happens, Martin and his Seminoles will be looking to go as far as they can.
Here’s what FSU fans should expect the lineup and pitching rotation to look like at the beginning of the season.
Catcher: Freshman Mat Nelson
Nelson was drafted in the 39th round of the 2018 MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He came in and won the starting catcher job outright in the fall. The coaching staff couldn’t say enough about how well he performed and there’s high hopes for him at FSU.
First Base: Junior Nico Baldor
Baldor is a transfer from Miami where he played in 34 games as a freshman during the 2017 season. He hit .239 with three RBI during that season with the Hurricanes. He beat out Cooper Swanson for the starting job at first base during the fall.
Second Base: Senior Mike Salvatore
Salvatore moved over to second during the off-season after starting all 62 games at shortstop in 2018. He led off for most of the 2018 season for the Seminoles and hit .244 with 27 RBI. Salvatore led the team with eight stolen bases on 12 attempts.
Shortstop: Freshman Nander De Sedas
De Sedas was ranked as the 55th best player in the 2018 MLB draft by MLB.com, which included both high school and college players. The FSU coaching staff is extremely high on him and big things are expected for the talented baseball player. He hit .385 with a .531 on-base percentage as a high school senior in 2018. He was drafted in the 29th round by the Milwaukee Brewers after telling teams that he planned to attend FSU regardless of where he was drafted.
Third Base: Junior Drew Mendoza
Mendoza finished second on the team with a .313 batting average as a sophomore in 2018. He had seven home runs and a .440 on-base percentage. Mendoza had an incredible first half of the season hitting near the .500 mark, but came back down to earth in the second half. FSU is hoping he can put it all together at the plate and improve on defense after posting a .919 fielding percentage in 2018.
Left Field: Freshman Elijah Cabell
Cabell originally signed with LSU, but enrolled at FSU. He’s a power-hitting outfielder that’s going to strike out a lot, but also hit a lot of home runs and doubles. He’s also a much better fielder than FSU expected him to be when he arrived. He was drafted in the 14th round by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Center Field: Junior J.C. Flowers
Flowers is an excellent outfielder with exceptional speed, but not a great hitter. He hit .218 last year with a .383 on-base percentage and 14 RBI. FSU will be platooning him out in center field for the first half of the season as he takes on a much bigger role as a pitcher.
Right Field: Sophomore Reese Albert
Albert was the standout position player from the 2018 freshman class. He hit .268 with seven home runs and 34 RBI. He’s expected to have a much bigger role on this year’s team and has become one of the leaders of the team. Albert will move to center field when Flowers is on the mound.
Designated Hitter: Freshman Robby Martin
Martin was the surprise breakout player of the fall when he hit three home runs in five exhibition games with 11 RBI. He will be in the DH role for the Seminoles except when Flowers is pitching. Martin will move to right field to take over for Albert when that happens.
Sophomore Cooper Swanson
Swanson lost out on the battle at first base with Baldor, but he will still have a role on this team. He will see some time in the DH role and will also platoon with Baldor at first base at times. He hit .255 with two home runs in 29 games in 2018.
Senior Jonathan Foster
It’s unlikely that Nelson will catch every game for the Seminoles this season. Foster is a guy that’s had success as a pinch-hitter and will be the primary backup for Nelson behind the plate. He hit .214 with two home runs in 21 games in 2018.
Friday: Left-handed junior Drew Parrish
Parrish is coming off an All-American season in 2018. He had a 5-1 record with an ERA of 2.52 in 107 innings pitched with 128 strikeouts and 37 walks. Parrish took over the ace role on the staff halfway through last season and was up for the challenge. He will fill that role once again this year. He threw 10.1 scoreless innings for Team USA over the summer where he allowed just five hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.
Saturday: Right-handed sophomore C.J. Van Eyk
Van Eyk spent most of the 2018 season in the bullpen. He was exceptional during his freshman season with a 7-0 record and a 2.86 ERA. He struck out 71 and walked 30 in 56.2 innings of work. He will step into the Saturday role due to the departure of Cole Sands and Andrew Karp.
Sunday: Left-handed Sophomore Austin Pollock
Pollock is a former Big Bend Pitcher of the Year at Lincoln, but he struggled in his first season at FSU. He had a 4-4 record with a 5.28 ERA. He struck out 49 and allowed 31 walks in 61.1 innings of work. He started out the 2018 season in the Sunday role but was moved to the weekday starter role and then to the bullpen. FSU has been pleased with his progress this off-season and is depending on him to step up in 2019.
Closer: Right-handed junior J.C. Flowers
Flowers had a standout fall camp as a pitcher and has impressed the coaching staff so much that he’s been tabbed the closer for the 2019 season. Martin said Flowers will have more of a six-out closing role rather than the normal three-out closing role. He has not pitched during his first two years at FSU, but was initially brought in to do both.
Middle Relief: Right-handed redshirt junior Chase Haney
Haney missed all of the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery. He had a 4.26 ERA in 33 games in 2017.
Middle Relief: Left-handed junior Clayton Kwiatkowski
Kwiatkowski had a very good year in 2018. He finished with 3.18 ERA in 45.1 innings with 49 strikeouts and 21 walks. He appeared in 26 games.
Middle Relief: Left-handed sophomore Jonah Scolaro
Scolaro was FSU’s primary closer in 2018, though he was never officially named to that role. He had a 3.43 ERA in 44.2 innings with 60 strikeouts and 18 walks. He appeared in 26 games and had six saves.
Middle Relief: Right-handed sophomore Conor Grady
Grady appeared in 22 games and finished the year with a 4.34 ERA in 29 innings of work. He struck out 33 and walked 21.
Middle Relief: Left-handed sophomore Shane Drohan
Drohan struggled as a freshman, but will be getting the start on Sunday against Maine due to the four-game series. He allowed 10 runs in 4.1 innings of work in 2018.
Reach Wayne McGahee III at [email protected]
No. 11 Florida State vs. Maine
When: Today, 4 p.m.
Where: Dick Howser Stadium
TV/Radio: ACC Network Extra/106.1 FM