The Daily Nole

FSU Baseball: Five Position Battles to Watch in 2019

Jeremy Esbrandt/D'Vel Photography/FSU athletics

With the deadline to sign with Major League Baseball teams having passed, the roster for Florida State baseball in 2019 has become a bit more clear.

Each of the seven Seminoles drafted last month made the decision to play for their new big-league club. First baseman Rhett Aplin was the lone senior selected. With that said, here’s a look at five position battles to watch for in 2019:

The last drafted FSU player to sign was Cal Raleigh, who waited until the deadline to become the newest member of the Seattle Mariners’ organization. Raleigh was unarguably FSU’s best offensive player in 2018, hitting a team-high .326 with 54 RBIs to go with 13 home runs. His replacement for the time being is up in the air.

Jonathan Foster, who spelled Raleigh briefly last season, is the first name that comes to mind. Foster hit just .214 last year in 28 at-bats, but homered twice, including a walk-off shot against Louisville. Jacksonville and junior college transfer Casey Cribb missed all of last season with an injury but hit .308 the year before at Tallahassee Community College. The Seminoles also bring in Matheu Nelson, who was drafted in the 39th round by the Philadelphia Phillies.

First Base
The first base position is another glaring question mark for the Seminoles in 2018. Rhett Aplin played the position last season, but has graduated and gone on to be drafted by the Kansas City Royals. Potential names to man the position include Foster and perhaps Drew Mendoza, who could move across the diamond from third base.

The first base position as well as the designated hitter spot could be manned by anyone with a bat that needs to be in the lineup. Veteran Nick Derr and freshman Elijah Cabell are also candidates to see time at the position.

Middle Infield
Perhaps the most competitive position battles this offseason will come up the middle at shortstop and second base. Mike Salvatore, a senior to be, started all 62 games this past season for Florida State and led the team with eight stolen bases. Nick Derr could be a candidate to play second after appearing in 50 games, including 38 starts, and hitting six home runs.

Keeping Nander De Sedas out of the lineup however, is a losing proposition for the Seminoles. Ranked as one of the nation’s top prospects, De Sedas turned down the Milwaukee Brewers, who drafted him in the 29th round, to sign with FSU. FSU also gets Tyler Daughtry back from a second consecutive season-ending injury. It’s possible that FSU could use any three of those names in the everyday lineup and move starting third baseman Drew Mendoza across the diamond to first base. Mendoza is FSU’s returning leader in hits, runs, batting average, doubles, home runs, walks and RBIs.

It can be assumed that J.C. Flowers and Reese Albert will man two of the three outfield positions for FSU, but the third remains up in the air. Cabell and follow incoming freshman Robby Martin could each be candidates to hold down the spot vacated by Jackson Lueck, but so could Jared Herron, who hit .297 in 37 at-bats with a homer and six RBIs in 2018.

Cooper Swanson could be another candidate to see time in the outfield for the Seminoles. Swanson played some in the corner outfield positions last season and made 16 starts. Swanson hit .255 with a pair of home runs. Daughtry and Derr are other options to move from the infield to the outfield. Skylar Frey could be used as a defensive replacement.

Midweek Starter
Although nothing is etched in stone, it can be predicted that the weekend rotation will be Drew Parrish, C.J. Van Eyk and Austin Pollock in some order. With Andrew Karp heading to the Washington Nationals’ organization, head coach Mike Martin and staff will be faced with an interesting decision as to who to turn to during the middle of the week.

Outside of the three previously mentioned, the only other FSU hurler to have made a start last season was lefty Clayton Kwiatkowski, who made just one. Kwiatkowski could be a spot starter candidate, but may be more valuable used out of the bullpen. Freshmen Cole Beverlin and Jack Anderson could be candidates as could sophomores Shane Drohan and Tyler Ahearn.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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