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FALL PROFILE: Florida State Seminoles
2011 record: 46-19
(NCAA Super Regional)
Final 2011 PG
ranking: No. 9
Top returning players:
Benincasa, 1B Jayce Boyd, P Brian Busch, 3B Sherman Johnson, OF James Ramsey, P
Hunter Scantling, P Scott Sitz, 2B Devon Travis, SS Justin Gonzalez
P Sean Gilmartin, UTI Mike McGee, C Rafael Lopez, P Daniel Bennett, OF Taiwan
Easterling, 3B Stuart Tapley
Areas of concern:
The Seminoles must
replace a stud ace starting pitcher in Sean Gilmartin and a very solid reliever
in Daniel Bennett. The pitching staff had issues at times last season with the
two in tow. Now they must improve without them.
What we think: When
college baseball switched to the BBCOR bats last season, we wondered how much
it would affect power-hungry programs like Florida State. Though the Seminoles’
power production was down last season, they still finished the campaign with a
.293 average and 61 home runs. FSU once again will have a solid lineup in 2012
with outfielder James Ramsey anchoring the unit. As usual, the Seminoles’
future rests in the hands of a pitching staff with some question marks. FSU
hopes new pitching coach Mike Bell can work some magic in this area. If not,
it’s business as usual.
What they’re saying:
“This team will probably be a lot like last year’s club. We’ll find a way to
score runs and we’ll play infield defense. We’ll have a good club, scratching
and clawing our way to victory. The pitching staff is the question mark right
now.” – Florida State assistant Mike Martin Jr.
Florida State knows all too well what life in the NCAA
postseason is like when a team doesn’t have enough consistent pitching to get
over the hump.
Whether it’s iffy pitching performances in Omaha, or last
year’s pitching blunders in the Tallahassee Super Regional against Texas
A&M, the Seminoles historically have had issues pitching at a high level in
Everyone in Tallahassee, Fla., knows it much change, and
preferably sooner rather than later. They hope new pitching coach Mike Bell,
previously at Oklahoma and a former FSU player who helped guide the program to
a pair of College World Series appearances, will provide the much needed to
spark this fall to get the pitching staff headed the right direction.
The Seminoles will be in fantastic shape should Bell work
“We’re worried about the pitching staff because you can
never have enough of it,” FSU assistant Mike Martin Jr. said. “Coach Bell,
though, has some new ideas and he’s doing some things we’re excited to
implement. Overall, his routines are a little different from what we’re used
to, as would be the case with any new pitching coach.”
Bell has his work cut out this fall. The Seminoles had one
of the nation’s best starting pitchers last season in left-hander Sean
Gilmartin. However, the lefty is now gone after signing this past summer as a
first-round pick of the Atlanta Braves.
The Seminoles are left with some pitchers with experience.
However, consistency with this group continues to be a concern, and is
something that must be rectified between now and February.
Some returning headliners for FSU include Robert Benincasa,
Brian Busch, Hunter Scantling and Scott Sitz. Benincasa finished last season
with a 3.58 ERA in 20 appearances and three starts, Busch had a 4.29 ERA in 63
innings, Scantling finished last season on a rough note in the Tallahassee
Super Regional and had a 4.45 ERA in 58 2/3 innings and Sitz made eight starts
and 18 appearances and had a 5.92 ERA in 51 2/3 innings.
“I really felt like Benincasa did some nice things this past
summer, despite the fact a couple of bad outings ruined his numbers. I also
feel very comfortable with Brian Busch out there at any time, as he’s a guy who
has been through the rigors of the season,” Martin Jr. said. “We feel like we
have a few pitchers who will improve the next few months. They’ll get some outs
and win some ballgames for us.”
FSU expects plenty of other pitchers to make significant
strides this fall and beyond. For instance, sophomore right-hander Peter Miller
is expected to make a move forward. Miller had a 2.70 ERA in just four appearances
last season, but made enough strides this past summer to catch the coaching
“Peter is a guy we really look at and think he’ll make some
big-time strides,” he said. “He had some control issues last season that kept
him from being a significant contributor, but he had a good summer and is much
more mature entering the fall.”
The Seminoles also welcome a huge crop of talented freshman
pitchers, including Cody Alling, Kyle Bird, Mike Compton, Bryant Holtmann,
Brandon Leibrandt, Jordan Priddle and Luke Weaver.
“I think when it’s all said and done, this pitching staff
can be at a national title level, but you just never really know,” he said.
“Once we get through fall workouts, we’ll have a clearer idea of what to expect
moving into the spring.”
Though the Seminoles’ situation on the mound is filled with
uncertainty, the offense, which hit .293 last season, once again is expected to
“Like last season, I think we’re going to be an offense that
finds a way to score runs,” he said. “We’re once again going to scratch and
claw for anything we can get at the plate.”
FSU received an early Christmas present this past summer
when outfielder James Ramsey spurned the Minnesota Twins for another campaign
with the Seminoles. Ramsey finished last season with a .364 batting average, 10
home runs and 67 RBIs.
The Seminoles also have high hopes for returnees Jayce Boyd
and Devon Travis, while Justin Gonzalez and Sherman Johnson are expected to
improve after having unimpressive 2011 campaigns. Travis, though, will miss
fall workouts after having knee surgery.
“We’re very comfortable with the offensive production we
have back this fall,” Martin Jr. said. “We feel like Sherman Johnson is going
to have a great fall and upcoming campaign, and we feel the same way about
Ramsey, Boyd and Travis. It was nice to see Travis come back to school looking
good physically despite the setback.”
There are others to keep an eye on this fall. For instance, the
catcher position should be a hotly contested fight between freshman Mario
Amaral and 6-foot-3, 200-pound, returnee Stephen McGee, who hit .111 in just
nine at bats last season because of an injury. Also, junior outfielder Seth
Miller earned limited playing time last season, but has looked great in four-man
drills and is primed to assume a greater role.
“Amaral can really do some nice things behind the plate and
we’re going to have a nice bout back there this fall,” he said. “McGee had a
shoulder injury last season, but he has come back looking good with his
shoulder now fixed. We think he’ll really improve.”
The Seminoles also are excited about talented freshmen Jose
Brizuela and Josh Delph. Brizuela was one of the top high school players in
America last season and expects to make an immediate impact, while Delph is
intriguing with a solid left-handed bat.
On the surface, things don’t look much different for the
Seminoles entering fall workouts. They have enough key offensive cogs back to
make some loud noise at the plate. But the pitching staff remains a legitimate
That’s where Mike Bell enters the equation.
Rogers is the managing editor of college baseball for Perfect Game USA and can
be reached at email@example.com