Apart from the freezing weather, Fan Day 2012 turned out to be an important stepping stone for Florida State baseball.
By the conclusion of the afternoon scrimmage, Seminoles coach Mike Martin had a much better idea of who his lineup would feature in the season opener Friday at home against Hofstra.
"Other than right field, our starting lineup is set for opening day," Martin said. "[Jose] Brizuela will start in left field, and Steve [McGee] is going to start behind the plate."
Scrimmaging on the same team as starting outfielders Brizuela and James Ramsey, Seth Miller likely will fill the undecided position in right. The infield reflects last year's starters, with Jayce Boyd at first base, Devon Travis at second base, Justin Gonzalez at shortstop and Sherman Johnson at third base.
The rotation on the mound has also been set, with freshman arm Brandon Liebrandt getting the nod at the top.
"I can't remember if I've ever started a freshman on opening day, but were starting a freshman on opening day," said Martin. "The freshman will be Leibrandt. Leibrandt will start opening day. Two or three of our rotation will be freshmen, and possibly three out of four."
Freshmen hurlers Luke Weaver and Mike Compton and sophomore Peter Miller earned a spot in the young rotation as well.
"Pitching-wise, were going to go Leibrandt, Miller and Compton [vs. Hofstra], and against Jacksonville we will throw Weaver," Martin said. "So that's three out of four freshmen."
The many fans that stayed beyond the autograph session witnessed a solid five innings of pitching by Weaver and fellow freshman Bryant Holtmann. The two only surrendered a combined five runs.
Even with runners in scoring position, both pitchers managed to escape the big inning.
"Every day can be better, but good outing," said Weaver. "Had some quick innings, got in a groove with the windup there for awhile. Got in the stretch and kinda was out of rhythm and had to pick it back up. All in all, it was a good day."
Weaver's lone mistake came in the first, when he gave up a towering solo home run to Boyd to deep left.
"I was talking to Weaver," Boyd said. "He threw a really good pitch, and I just happened to get the barrel to it and hit it out."
Boyd appeared to be in midseason form, adding a scorching liner up the middle for a single in the fourth and taking a walk the following inning. He showed off his speed by tagging up from first and beating the throw to second on a fly ball down the right field line.
But Boyd seemed less inspired by his own play and more excited about the young pitching prospects.
"I was impressed with what [Weaver] was throwing today," he said. "He was throwing the ball really well. You usually don't get too many freshman guys that are going to come in and be impact guys right away, and we have a handful of them that can do it and probably will do it. And that's special in itself. The fact that they come out here and compete against us every day and they're not scared, they're not timid, they just come out here and play ball like they're playing against their buddies in the back yard, that's what you like to see."
While attitude is one thing, in order to help their own cause, the youngsters must also pitch to contact and allow the defense to make plays for them.
Weaver understands this as well as anyone.
"The most important thing is getting ahead," he said. "Being consistent in and out of the strike zone. Let the fielders work. Try not to be overpowering. We have one of the best defenses in the nation, so let them work and try not to do it all myself."
With the combination of young, exciting pitchers and more seasoned veterans like Boyd, this should be a very interesting season for the Seminoles.
Jonathan Bockman is the baseball reporter for NoleDigest.com and a student in Sport Management at Florida State.
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