Image Credit: Florida State Athletics
Florida State brings back a very talented lineup in 2021, with only one replacement expected.
Freshman Vince Smith is expected to man second base instead of light-hitting Jackson Greene. Yes, this means Nander de Sedas is headed back to shortstop.
Do we expect him to stick there an entire year this time? Only time will tell.
Maybe the extended layoff will have given the young man time to get his mind right.
Going around the horn, we’ll start at the hot corner. As we mentioned previously, there were a couple losses of corner infielders. This paves the way for Tyler Martin to cement his place at the position.
Martin played a lot of third last year, but an injured arm kept him from really being excellent defensively. He was good with range and the glove, but the arm needed help. Hopefully, 10 months has brought that arm back into shape.
At the dish, the coach’s son batted like you’d expect him to – .310 batting average with 18 walks in 17 games. Martin should be the consummate table-setter for this Seminole squad.
Potential has been the buzzword around Nander de Sedas as long as he’s been in Tallahassee. The Panama City, Panama native has the offensive and defensive tools to be a star, but has allowed poor play to get into his head and crater his game for the last two seasons.
The third-year player hit .150 with 22 strikeouts and eight errors in 17 games last season. This is de Sedas’ money year, so we’ll see if the Panamanian can put it all together after some time off.
As stated above, we fully expect freshman Smith to take over at second. Smith has a compact, high-contact swing that should allow him to be a good piece for this lineup.
In the field, the Clearwater native is smooth, with a sure glove and quick feet. Look for the Seminoles to see an upgrade over Jackson Greene, who, while fine in the field, struggled at the plate.
There is no doubt that FSU has struggled to find consistency at first base since Tyler Holton got hurt. Those days may be over, as Cooper Swanson and Dylan Simmons should fill the hole in 2021. Expect them to rotate at first and as a designated hitter, as you want both bats in the lineup every day.
Swanson struggled a bit over the 2020 season, but was starting to round into form as the season ended. Hopefully, Swanson can start right back where he left off, as he’s one of FSU’s true power bats.
Simmons also found his swing late in the year, knocking two doubles against Florida and going 2-for-2 against Illinois State. Simmons finished the year with a .489 on-base percentage. Look for first to be a strength for this team.
Matheu Nelson is the type of catcher you want on your team — solid, if unspectacular numbers at the dish, yet good enough defensively for you to not know he’s behind the dish. Nelson is an on-base fiend, with a career mark over .425.
He’ll fill the Noles’ No. 2 spot in the lineup and put ducks on the pond for the power bats behind him to drive in. There’s not a lot of pop in his bat, but he does what’s necessary for runs to be scored.
Elijah Cabell was a welcome surprise – possibly even shock – to the Florida State faithful in 2020. The Winter Park native was a home run machine, hitting seven home runs with 28 RBI in 17 games to go with a .263 average and a .488 on-base percentage.
That came with 32 strikeouts, but you’ll make that trade for the instant offense Cabell brought every plate appearance. The third-year player also got on base 25 times via walk or hit by pitch in 2020.
He was enjoying playing baseball again – his infectious smile and joyful attitude indicates that he turned a page. Only time will tell if the page stays turned in 2021.
Reese Albert returns for what feels like the 30th year to the Florida State lineup. The Jupiter native got it rolling late, recording multi-hit games in three of his last four to end the season, which raised his average from .152 to .242, with three homers during that stretch. Look for Albert to provide consistent pop for the Noles.
Robbie Martin had a Robbie Martin year in 2020. The Tampa native had a slash line of .324/.439/.412 with 14 RBI in 17 games. That’s what we’ve come to expect – solid at-bats and inning-lengthening hits that help the Noles keep turning the lineup card over time and again.