The Florida State baseball team earned its highest preseason ranking of the 2013 season on Thursday checking in at No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. It marked the Seminoles' fourth preseason top 25 ranking this year.
Florida State earned its first preseason ranking of No. 17 from Collegiate Baseball back in December and then was ranked at No. 19 by Perfect Game earlier this week. Earlier on Thursday, Baseball America had the Seminoles at No. 20 in their preseason poll.
The Seminoles return 19 players including five positions starters and nine pitchers who threw at least 15.0 innings last year. Despite losing three starting infielders, a starter in center field and one of the top closers in the nation, the Seminoles welcome back four starting pitchers in sophomores Mike Compton and Brandon Leibrandt (both named Preseason All-Americans in 2013), senior right hander Scott Sitz and junior right hander Peter Miller. Catcher Stephen McGee is also back after starting all 67 games from behind the plate a season ago.
Senior captain Justin Gonzalez will pace the Seminole offense as the top returning hitter in runs scored (42), hits (54), home runs (9) and RBI (42). Sophomore Jose Brizuela, who made a majority of his starts in left field, will move to third base in 2013, while Seth Miller and Josh Delph, who played significant innings last year, will see playing time in the outfield.
There are plenty of new faces in the clubhouse this year as the Seminoles welcome 15 newcomers including nine freshmen and seven junior college transfers. This year's incoming class, which was also ranked 19th-nationally by Collegiate Baseball, is made up of five pitchers (including two left handers), four infielders, four outfielders, one catcher and one utility player (listed on the roster at two or more positions including pitcher and catcher).
Four of the student-athletes in this year's incoming class were selected in the MLB First Year Player Draft – three in 2012 and one in 2010. Those four individuals include two-sport standout Jameis Winston (15th round, Texas), D.J. Stewart (28th round, NY Yankees), John Sansone (39th round, Detroit) and Hayden Jordan (49th round in 2010, Baltimore).
Thirteen teams featured on the 2013 schedule recorded 30 or more wins a season ago. Seven schools earned a bid to participate in the 2012 NCAA Regional.
The Seminoles will look to return to Omaha in 2013 when the season begins Friday, February 15 at 4:00 p.m. as Florida State hosts the University of Rhode Island for a three-game series on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Field.
9. Florida State
11. NC State
14. Oregon State
18 .(tie) Mississippi State
18. (tie) San Diego
20. Arizona State
21. Georgia Tech
24. Texas A&M
25. (tie) Virginia
25. (tie) Louisville