Column: Good early returns

College : : Story
Kendall Rogers        
Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014

TEN THOUGHTS FROM LAST WEEK


1. Florida State’s starting rotation earned recognition before the season with the return of right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver, lefty Brandon Leibrandt and righty Mike Compton, who was coming off Tommy John surgery. But then there’s the bullpen. Not talked about much in the preseason, this group again proved to be formidable over the weekend against N.C. State, with quirky senior right-hander Gage Smith tossing four shutout frames, Bryant Holtmann throwing 1 1/3 shutout frames, Kenny Burkhead throwing some quality innings, and of course, Jameis Winston, who tossed three shutout frames and struck out seven in the series finale. FSU was already a scary team, but it looks like a true national contender with an impressive bullpen.


2. Auburn has one of the nation’s elite freshmen in right-handed pitcher Keegan Thompson. Ranked No. 63 nationally by PG out of high school, Thompson was a true two-way star. And though he only has 55 at bats (with a .218 batting average) so far this spring, his presence is being felt on the mound for the Tigers. Thompson tossed yet another gem against Texas A&M over the weekend, and now has a 0.69 ERA in 39 innings, along with 31 strikeouts, six walks and opponents hitting him at a .104 clop. The hard-nosed 6-foot-1, 208-pounder, sits 90-93 with his fastball, along with good secondary stuff. He’s an early frontrunner for National Freshman of the Year.



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