On The Hill

In this second and final installment, Florida State pitching coach Jamey Shouppe talks about the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference, critiques ace Trent Peterson and talks about his staff as it heads into the season's second half. "I think there is as much parity this year as there ever has been. In the past, we've always said it's going to take 17, 18 or 19 wins to win the ACC regular season. This might be one of those years where it only takes about 15 to 17 wins to win it," Shouppe said.

Second of two parts.

Talk about the ACC. Coach Martin believes his team can't afford to lose too many more league games due to its strength.

"It's going to be interesting. The parity in the league this year seems to be more so than it has in the past. Everyone had Georgia Tech winning the conference and they struggled last weekend against Miami and got swept down there. When you look at them on paper, they seem to be the elite team in the ACC but you don't play the game on paper. So, it's going to be interesting. I think there are a lot of teams that are much more improved this year than they were last year. The Virginia team we played early I thought was a very good baseball team. We were very fortunate to win all three games. They pitch very well and they are good enough offensively and defensively. You have teams like Virginia and teams like N.C. State that beat us two of three (two weekends ago). I think there is as much parity this year as there ever has been. In the past, we've always said it's going to take 17, 18 or 19 wins to win the ACC regular season. This might be one of those years where it only takes about 15 to 17 wins to win it. It's interesting. There's a lot of good baseball teams in the ACC as it has been in years past. But there doesn't seem to be as much separation between the top and the middle as it has been in the past."

What makes Trent Peterson so effective?

"There are several things. The main difference is he's throwing his fastball inside so much better this year. Petey always has had good stuff. Very loose for a left-hander. Very loose arm. He throws 87-88 miles per hour on a good day and that's, from a left-hander with good movement, he can be very effective. His changeup is a very good pitch and it offsets that fastball, especially when that fastball is in tight and he throws that changeup away. And his curveball has been his strikeout pitch for him. Trent Peterson is a very good college pitcher. When you look at him, he's not the biggest guy in the world. He's kind of slight of arm. You think he can't be a dominating pitcher because of his physical size. His stuff, his pitching, his arm, he's as good as anybody we have. Up close to 90 and he has a very good curveball. And I shouldn't say he has been a suprise this year. I think he is for a lot of people but not for us. He's always shown flashes of being. ... he's always had good stuff and always had the ability to throw that fastball by people. He's just pitching so well. He's one of the guys that makes you fee good, makes me feel good as a pitching coach, because he's kind of a a product of the system. He has been in the system for three years now and he's excelling."

One player who you can't call a surprise is Eddy Martinez-Esteve. He's making tremendous porgress for a first-year player.

"The good thing is about Eddy is he enjoys playing the game of baseball and that's what you like to see. There are some guys that seem like pressure makes the game so much more difficult maybe for them but Eddy is a guy who seems to strive in the big games. He just enjoys playing the game. He has fun on the baseball field. He doesn't seem to let the pressure get to him too much. He has been good and he's getting better, which is the good thing about it. During preseason, before we started playing games, he was giving our pitchers fits. Not a surprise to us because he hit our pitching and we think we have pretty good pitching and he hit very, very well in the preseason. He's a baseall player. He loves to play the game and we are happy he's at Florida State. As a third-rounder you expect a lot of things out of him but he has kind of surpassed that this year so far this year for us. He is cutting down on his strikeouts, which has really been the only problems he's had other than the errors, but he's really beginning to a force in our lineup."

He obviously feels comfortable in the two hole in the lineup.

"It certainly looked like it this weekend didn't it (laughing). I know coach Martin certainly felt more comfortable with him hitting No. 2 in the lineup. He had a bunch of hits. I just hope he continues that. The thing offensively he has to do is hit the ball hard. He is the guy who has the power and has more home runs than anybody else on the club at this point. We just want him to continue to hit the ball hard and he will. As long as he puts the ball in play, good things are going to happen. We are real comfortable with him in the No. 2 hole so far."

When you look at your pitching line at the halfway point, what pleases you and displeases you overall?

"When you compare to it this time last year, I am certainly very, very pleased. The good thing, just like offensively, pitching-wise we can still get better. Rhett James has been inconsistent. His numbers aren't what they should be. Eddie Cannon has been somewhat inconsistent coming out of the bullpen. I don't think we can ask much more out of Trent Peterson and Daniel Davidson other than just stay consistent with what they've been doing and have been able to do this season. Matt Lynch really hasn't got rolling yet and I think he can pitch better than what he's pitching right now. So, we just have to stay the course pitching wise. That's the key for us. Make sure we get our work and make sure we understand we know what we are working for and that's obviously every weekend we play but it's also that eye towards the future making sure we are getting guys in situation and getting as many guys involved in the ballgame as we can. We talked about Kevin Lynch earlier and Kevin Lynch has to be involved for us to be succesful throughout the season. It's hard when you only play three games on the weekend and don't have any midweek games, but it's a challenge to us coaches to make sure we are getting guys out there and they are able to continue to pitch well. That's the key – every day get our work in to make sure we are getting better."


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