Mike Martin Jr. was proud to see seven Florida State players selected in the 20-round MLB Draft, the most since 1995 — when eight Seminoles were among the first 600 picks. While he spent time talking and texting, celebrating the achievements, he was also busy on the phone Tuesday night talking with undrafted Seminoles, signees and prospects in the transfer portal.
The 2021 draft was held a full month later on the calendar compared to last year. Players also have just a few weeks, until Aug. 1, to sign. MLB teams negotiate financials on the phone with players before making a selection, and it’s expected that all of FSU’s draft picks will go pro. A later draft puts the Seminoles and college baseball in a tight spot as coaches build rosters ahead of the 2022 season.
“It’s definitely not ideal to have it as late as they did — I don’t think they’ll stay with that (draft) format because it really puts the college people in a bind because school starts a little over a month,” Martin Jr. told the Osceola on Wednesday. “Trying to figure out who’s coming back, who’s signing. It puts the college guys, coaches and programs in a real bind.”
FSU’s undrafted players can sign pro deals but those signing bonuses are capped at $20,000. The question is whether taking $20,000 is enough compensation for one of FSU’s players to pass up remaining eligibility as well as if their draft stock can be improved in future years. Among FSU’s top undrafted players are third baseman/outfielder Logan Lacey, outfielder Reese Albert and left-hander Jonah Scolaro.
“We want our guys happy,” Martin Jr. said. “We’ll tell them exactly what we feel is best. Ultimately, it’s their decision. But I don’t think there’s going to be many guys signing, taking $20,000 and going into a situation where you’re spending money out of your own pockets to play.”
Paychecks at the lower levels of minor league baseball often don’t cover expenses, and Martin Jr. even recalled playing in Iowa in the 1990s and living in a two-bedroom apartment with nine guys. “We had guys on air mattresses in the kitchen,” Martin Jr. said with a laugh.
Approximately 10 of FSU’s players, including the likes of Scolaro and Lacey, have begun playing in the wood-bat Cape Cod League this summer with underclassmen as well as veterans preparing for fall ball and the 2022 season.
Martin Jr. said he and the coaching staff will continue to monitor the transfer portal. He can’t yet speak on transfers, although a few have announced their intentions via social media. FSU landed middle infielder Brett Roberts in mid-June and Florida freshman shortstop Jordan Carrion picked the Seminoles on Wednesday. Martin Jr. said he is also seeking left-handers via the portal.
Impressions of Baumeister
High school right-hander Jackson Baumeister is one of the top prospects in FSU’s class and turned down “a lot of money” to play at his dream school. A Jacksonville native, Baumeister has a dynamic fastball with a slider and change-up.
“He’s special,” Martin Jr. said. “I’ve never seen as many fastballs get swung at and missed as his. He’s got high spin rate, great extension, pitches up in the zone, really athletic. He is a catcher as well. He’s just exactly what you want: competitive, tough, he turned down a lot of money. He’s die-hard Seminole. He wanted the college experience, he wanted to try to help us win a national championship.”
While this year’s class of signees is still taking shape, it has been molded in the vision of Martin Jr. and recruiting coordinator Mike Metcalf.
“It’s a group that is versatile and athletic and I want to get where we are running,” Martin Jr. said. “You got to have the clientele to do that. That’s what we’re striving for. Mike and I believe in the same type of baseball. We’re definitely going to be more athletic and we’re going to put a lot more pressure on the defense. And obviously we got to cut down on strikeouts. Love the pitching, absolutely love the pitching.”
Scheduling for 2022
ACC schools agreed to a condensed 50-game schedule in 2021 that was heavy on conference games in an effort to save expenses. The schools also felt a need to keep COVID testing protocols similar when playing out-of-conference teams.
But the NCAA Selection Committee did the ACC teams no favors: Notre Dame was not a top-8 national seed, FSU was a No. 3 seed, NC State was a No. 2 seed and Pittsburgh was out of the field. Virginia and NC State made a run to the College World Series, an indication of the strength of the ACC in 2021. Martin Jr. sees a return to scheduling from 2019 and prior years that will include non-conference matchups to strengthen the RPI.
“That was a big mistake on our part, for our league to go to a 12-weekend schedule because it takes away from your RPI big time,” Martin Jr. said. “You’re not getting that cross pollination from SEC schools or Conference USA and that was a big mistake. It will be the full 56 (games). It won’t be 50. That was another big mistake that we made — those six games, out of conference games, would have been huge for everybody’s RPI. It’s not only we go to 12 weeks, we went to 50 games. And that was the kiss of death, everybody’s RPI.”
Roster size a challenge
Smaller MLB drafts in 2020 (five rounds) and 2021 (20 rounds) have been good for college baseball. More prospects stayed in the college game and many prep players also opted to go to school. It’s also created some roster challenges. The NCAA allows just 11.7 scholarships and those can be spread among 30 players (an increase of the prior total of 27 on scholarship).
“I think that’s where we’re going to be for a couple of years,” Martin Jr. said. “It all is predicated on how many rounds the draft has. If they go back to 40 rounds, then it’ll kind of take care of itself.”