The Daily Nole

2018 FSU Baseball Season Predictions

ACC Digital Network

We here at The Daily Nole hope you’ve set aside enough income for peanuts and beer, because Florida State baseball has arrived. The Seminoles begin the 2018 season with a 3-game home series against the Xavier Musketeers, starting on Friday, where they figure to gain at least two tallies in the win column.

The Daily Nole will provide press coverage for the entire season, whether that’s myself (Clint Eiland), editor Mike Ferguson, or contributor Robert Blackburn. Before the first pitch is thrown, Clint and Mike give their season predictions on players and overall outcomes for 2018.

Best Newcomer

Clint: Cooper Swanson, SS

Many expected Swanson to be rotating in as the season progressed and he became acclimated to the college game. Turns out that he came prepared as Swanson and Mike Salvatore Jr. are currently battling for the starting spot at shortstop. Swanson has all the tools to come in and emerge as a mainstay on defense. Where he’ll need to prove himself is at the plate, where he showed steady improvement throughout high school, culminating in a .420 average and 21-RBI outing as a senior. Swanson will be too enticing to keep off the field, and he will get reps from the very beginning.

Mike: C.J. Van Eyk, P

A 19th-round pick of the New York Mets, right-hander C.J. Van Eyk could fill a number of roles for Florida State this season. With closer Drew Carlton off to play in the Detroit Tigers’ organization and Chase Haney having undergone Tommy John Surgery, the Seminoles will be looking for a few right-handed arms out of the bullpen. Van Eyk could be utilized in a variety of ways and could be a candidate to replace Carlton at the back end of the bullpen.

Breakout Player

Clint: Cole Sands, P
Cole Sands, a hard-throwing junior right-hander, has shown tremendous potential during his Florida State career, but has been unable to put it all together. Sands finished 6-4 a season ago with a 5.40 ERA, but came through big for the Seminoles in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments. If he can avoid the big inning, he has a chance to have a breakthrough year for the Seminoles.

Mike: J.C. Flowers, OF
Sophomore outfielder J.C. Flowers has the been potential to be a 5-tool player for the Seminoles. Flowers has a big arm, can fly on the base-paths and can provide some power while playing an excellent center field. The issue for Flowers has been consistency at the plate. After a strong start to last season, Flowers was moved down in the order and ultimately replaced late in the season. Flowers hit just .235 a season ago, but was in the .280s until mid-May.

Overall MVP

Clint: Drew Mendoza, 3B

If the latter half of the 2017 season was the Mendoza that fans will see for the entire 2018, there will be little doubt as to who should win team MVP. Despite missing 26 games, Mendoza hit .270 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs. His season on defense started out rough with multiple miscues while playing the infield, but he improved with each day. Now he’s had a full offseason of injury-free reps.

Mike: Tyler Holton, P

Junior lefty Tyler Holton may have arguably earned this award last season during an All-American campaign on the mound. This season, Holton is not only expected to be the ace on the bump for the Seminoles, but will get plenty of opportunities with the bat. Instead of just keeping opponents’ off the board, Holton will have a chance to help the rest of the staff out this season.

Most Glaring Question

Clint: Can Mike Martin Maintain Consistency One Last Time?

It’s fair to say that 2018 is almost certainly the final season Mike Martin will ever coach. With that in the back of his mind, can Martin keep his team disciplined and remedy the consistency issues? It took a furious close to win the ACC and make the tournament last year, and that team lost a good amount of contributors on the mound. Martin has shown the ability to reverse course and get his team playing at a high level despite potential pitfalls. But he certainly doesn’t want to be in that situation again, and he’ll need to make one final push if he wants a shot at that coveted first national championship.

Mike: Who Closes Games?

The closer situation was so bad for Florida State early on last season that the Seminoles had to move Opening Day starter Drew Carlton to the back end of the bullpen. With Carlton, Alec Byrd and Jim Voyles all gone and Chase Haney injured, who fills that void is currently an unknown. Former starter Cobi Johnson, who missed all of last season after Tommy John Surgery, and freshman C.J. Van Eyk could each be candidates.

Season Prediction

Clint: 38-18 (19-11 ACC), 4-0 in ACC Tournament (title), 1-1 in Super Regional. Final Record: 46-19.

It might be the skepticism coming out, but I’ve not bought in to Florida State truly living up to its potential. The Seminoles have been very inconsistent over the past few years and never seem to truly fix the issues that plague the bullpen. They have enough talent to give Martin the win record and secure a tournament bid. But they will once again drop a couple of series that they have no business dropping, and they’ll enter the postseason with regrets. When they start in the ACC Tournament, they’ll rally and capture yet another conference title. They’ll advance through the regional stage and eventually fall one game short of reaching the College World Series.

Mike: 42-14 (21-9 ACC), 2-1 in ACC Tournament (no title), 3-0 in Regional, 2-1 in Super Regional, 3-2 in CWS. Final Record: 52-18.

Florida State will have an outstanding regular season that earns the Seminoles a national seed in the NCAA Tournament. FSU will fail to win a third ACC title in four years, but have a strong showing in the conference tournament. After reaching the College World Series for a second straight season, FSU will fall one win shy of reaching the championship series.

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