Image Credit: Florida State Athletics
There will be a day when the trio of Jonah Scolaro, Clayton Kwiatkowski, and Chase Haney will be gone.
Today is not that day.
Florida State brings back a strong bullpen, which will be important to support two or three new starters in the weekend rotation.
FSU signed the 11th-best recruiting class in the nation, headlined by right-handed pitcher Carson Montgomery. Montgomery is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound pitcher out of Windermere, Fla. with a live mid-to-high-90’s fastball and a slurvy power breaking ball that reaches into the 80’s.
He’ll definitely work with pitching coach Jimmy Belanger on his changeup and could be a true three-pitch pitcher for his freshman year. He’ll compete for a spot in the rotation.
Speaking of the rotation, the Seminoles do return Conor Grady. The veteran developed a better feel for his slider and added a couple of miles per hour on his fastball. Look for another year under Belanger’s tutelage to do wonders for Grady.
The other two spots are up for grabs. Other than Montgomery, there are three names that could get the nod for weekend starts: Bryce Hubbart, Jack Anderson, and Parker Messick.
Yes, Hubbart struggled last year. In seven appearances, three starts, the freshman southpaw posted a 6.48 ERA and struggled with the home run. But the stuff is there – a low-to-mid-90’s fastball and a curveball that plays well off the heat.
He also utilized a changeup at times last year. In the offseason, he dominated the Florida Collegiate League with a 0.60 ERA and 18.6 strikeouts per nine innings. For better or for worse, you’ll see Hubbart a lot this year.
Anderson, a righty, served as a long relief option along with Antonio Velez in 2020. The lanky Tampa native threw well, only allowing one run in 11.1 innings of work. While Anderson’s slider is his best weapon, he’s seen an uptick in fastball velocity that puts him in the low-90’s.
This provides a little more change of pace with a mid-80’s slider. Anderson also has a decent changeup that he uses to his advantage against left-handed batters.
Florida State’s resident thicc boi made waves in 2020, coming on the scene with 3.1 scoreless innings before giving up a home run against Texas Tech. It would be the only run he’d give up in 11.2 innings of work. Messick has trimmed down a bit, from nearly 250 pounds down to 225, but it hasn’t changed his offerings.
His fastball runs low-to-mid-90’s with arm-side run and rising action, and a changeup that drops off the table into lefties. He adds a slider that’s a weapon against lefties and a knuckle-curve that he brings out to get the count in his favor. If the second-year pitcher can continue his strong start, he should make the starting rotation.
Look for another season with pitching coach Jimmy Belanger to continue to improve the Noles’ staff and grow the young rotation into a strength entering next season.