Birdball Preview/Prediction: Florida State

USA TODAY Sports

FSU is ranked #1 but is coming off a loss to Florida. BC is not Florida.

In the world of college baseball, there are certain programs that you're allowed to drop your jaw in amazement of.  Florida State is one of those programs.

51 national tournament berths.  21 College World Series berths.

Their head coach, Mike Martin (a veteran of 35 years at the helm), has more national tournament victories (135) than BC head coach Mike Gambino has double in his career (58, which doubles to 116).  His winning percentage is a career .749, second best all-time behind only Augie Garrido of Texas.

They won 47 games last year, won 20 in the ACC, scored eight or more runs 29 times, winning 28 of those games.  They've already scored eight or more runs 13 times this year alone, and their batting lineup reads like something that'll be in an MLB All Star Game in a few years.

This is one of those series that just feels like it could horribly wrong and bad for the Eagles.  They need to come out and get aggressive, punch a team like Florida State directly in the mouth and loudly announce that they're not willing to roll over.  Problem is, that's what I want to see happen, and that's my call to action for the Eagle players.  That's not actually what I can accurately predict when I stare at the lineup card and list the stats side-by-side.

BC Offense vs. FSU Defense

There is no way in hell Boston College is going to stop the Noles offensively for the entire weekend; last year, in three games, FSU outscored BC by a 22-5 margin and delivers an offense that can mash the ball with authority.  But to rely on their offense to punch holes in the Florida State defense is a bigger issue.

Unless something drastically changes (see: my call to action), BC enters this weekend with only four runs in their last four games, none in their last two.  After beating Wake Forest, 2-1, in the first game of their series last week, BC scored two runs in a second game doubleheader loss to the Deacons, then got shut out on Saturday and Tuesday.  On top of it all, they continue to run into issues driving in runners on base.

Throughout the entire season, I've tried to hold Mike Gambino to his words and use statistics to back it up.  Using the Northeastern loss as a gut check, he said the team is pressing.  Since there's no expectation for them to do anything against FSU, I'm expecting something different out of this time.  If not, then we need to call it out as such.

That said, let's look at what BC is up against this weekend.  The Seminoles are throwing three of the best pitchers in the nation - Luke Weaver, Brandon Leibrandt, and Mike Compton.

Weaver was drafted in the 19th round out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays and was a high school All American.  He has a fastball topping out in the 90s, the ability to tail his pitches in or away from hitters, and a nasty slider.  He can pound the lower half of the strike zone, which means a lot of ground balls.  With a lanky frame, he's drawn comparisons to Tim Hudson.  In 2012, after his freshman year, he played for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod Baseball League; in seven appearances, he threw 23.2 innings and struck out 23 guys to just nine walks.

Leibrandt missed fall ball with a broken ankle, but he ranked in the top 100 prospects according to College Baseball Daily. He finished as a freshman All-American and has a fastball topping out in the low 90s.  Consider that he's a left-handed hitter, and there's going to be some natural rotation and break.  He does come straight over the top versus a 3/4s delivery, which means the ball is going to be heavy.  That means it's straight power on power when facing him, or there will be a lot of ground balls.

Compton is bouncing back this year after missing last season with Tommy John Surgery, but even he's got skill.  He's a sinker ball pitcher, which means - surprise, surprise - ground balls.  He has a fastball capable of hitting 90, but it's mostly in the high 80s and sinks back over the lower part of the zone.  He's more crafty, and all the scouting reports on him, which are numerous, talk about his slurve - essentially a ground ball knuckler of a gross pitch that when thrown perfectly is brutal.

Bottom line - BC needs to be hitting some slap hits and manufacturing runs...except that the entire infield has missed a combined one start.

BC Defense vs. Florida State Offense

DJ Stewart: .380 batting average, 35 hits, four homers, 11 doubles, 26 runs scored, 22 RBI, a .690 slugging percentage, a .496 on base percentage and 58 total bases.  Guess what?  He's not even draft eligible since he's a sophomore.  Last year down the Cape, he was an All Star for the Y-D Red Sox as a freshman.  He's started every game this year as the #3 hitter, and he's fast projecting to a first round pick.

Behind him will be either Brett Knief or John Nogowski.  Knief is hitting .312 with 2 homers and 18 RBI, while Nogowski is at .286 with 24 RBI.  Awesome.

The rest of the FSU lineup reads exactly like you'd think.  Jose Brizuela is hitting .325 with 21 RBI.  John Sansone is over .300 with 18 RBI.  Ben DeLuzio and Justin Gonzalez are hanging out near the .300 mark.

The team itself is hitting .297 with 188 runs scored in 24 games. They have a .428 slugging percentage and a cumulative .419 on base percentage.  And if that wasn't enough, they have a switch-hitting sophomore coming off the bench who appeared in 40-plus games last year with 30-plus starts as a two-way player that can also come in from the bullpen.  His name is Jameis Winston.  Perhaps you've heard of him?

Unconfirmed, but I don't think Winston made the trip north.  He's only played in 12 games this year.

Prediction

I don't know why I do this sometimes.  Earlier this week, I posted out of emotion that I wanted BC to show me something.  But I waffle back and forth on whether or not they actually can.  I'd love for them to win a game this weekend, but realistically - not gonna happen.  I'd love for them to keep this series close, a much more realistic option given that BC beat FSU at home a couple of years ago.

Two years ago, BC lost a pair of games to open up the series at Shea Field, then dropped 17 runs on the Noles in an 11-run victory in the third game.  That came from out of nowhere, and nobody could have predicted it.  Heading into this weekend, I really, really want BC to show me something, but on paper, I just don't know how that's going to happen.  FSU just lost to Florida in a game where benches cleared, they're going to be steaming mad, and they're the #1 team in the nation.  For what it's worth, it's their first ever games in Rhode Island.

Call it an FSU sweep, and let's move onto next week.

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