Florida State opened fall baseball practice on Monday afternoon with a familiar face in the dugout and two new one alongside him.
Mike Martin Jr. has had a busy summer, hitting the recruiting trail while also hiring a staff – Mike Metcalf will be the recruiting coordinator and Jimmy Belanger will be the pitching coach.
“They go out and grind,” Martin Jr. said, praising the work ethic of both hires.
Former FSU standout Tyler Holt remains on staff as a volunteer assistant, as does longtime director of baseball operations Chip Baker.
Martin Jr. will retain the responsibilities as hitting coach but has emphasized his desire to have batters be more aggressive early in the count and attack the inner-third of the plate. FSU will return a talented lineup in 2020, including the likes of Reese Albert, Robby Martin, Nander de Sedas, Matheu Nelson, Nico Baldor and Elijah Cabell.
Belanger has a mix of veterans and newcomers. Among the top returning arms are right-handers C.J. Van Eyk, Conor Grady and Chase Haney as well as left-handers Jonah Scolaro, Antonio Velez and Shane Drohan.
For Martin Jr., the big difference between his previous role and taking over as head coach has been the focus on scheduling and fundraising.
“Those are the two areas that I never had anything to do,” Martin Jr. said. “That’s been an adjustment. It hasn’t been necessarily a bad thing. We’re going to do some things different when it comes to scheduling as well.”
Martin Jr. shared that he had an early season weekend series lined up with Florida Atlantic but then received a call from Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock, who was looking to play a series in Tallahassee. Tadlock suggested a round robin with Texas Tech, FSU and FAU and the coaches agreed the idea was beneficial to all schools.
The full 2020 schedule has not been released yet.
Some news and notes from Martin Jr.:
He wants practices to be faster: “I want the guys to be in great shape. In order to win the psychological battle, that’s part of it. I’m not saying we weren’t in great shape in years past, but I think we can do better with that.”
He wants to be more aggressive on the basepaths: “It just makes everything. ‘Here they come again. They never seem to stop.’ … I want them to feel that pressure.”
He thinks FSU will find a balance at the plate and still values walks: “Walks win. On-base percentage wins. But I think you can have your cake and eat it too. That’s what we’re striving to do.There’s some pitches that we’re not going to let slide.”
He is recruiting years down the road: “(The) ’21, ’22 and ’23 classes, we’re really rolling. 20’s, that’s a tough one. We’re going to do a little stop gap, if you will, some junior college kids on campus. We may have to do it that way for right now. But every class after that we feel very comfortable with where we’re at.”
FSU will play its first fall baseball game on Monday against the Ontario Blue Jays at 3 p.m. Another game against the State College of Florida will be played on Oct. 18 and one vs. Jacksonville University on Nov. 9. There will be two garnet and gold games on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 (the night before the Miami-FSU football game).
Osceola writer Ariya Massoudi contributed to this report. We will have more from FSU baseball during the fall season. If you enjoy reading stories like this, consider a subscription to the Osceola. Go to theOsceola.com/reasons-to-join-our-tribe to read about our staff and enjoy a 7-day free trial.