2008 GoJackets.com Baseball Preview - FSU

With February 22nd just around the corner, it's time once again to take a look at the 2008 ACC race. The preseason polls are out and they're all suggesting a six team race for the ACC title and a chance to host regional play in the postseason. North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Virginia, and Georgia Tech are the six teams we will take a look at in this year's review.

For Mike Martin's Seminoles, the 2007 season ended with a loss to Mississippi State in the NCAA regionals. The Noles won the Atlantic division of the ACC and compiled a very strong 49-13 record but took an unexpected early exit from the postseason. They are once again picked to finish atop the Atlantic division in 2008. They received a minor blow to their chances when All-American Jack Rye broke his thumb. As a result, he will be out until mid-March. We may see his return sometime during the Georgia Tech series in Tallahassee.

INFIELD – This year's edition of Florida State baseball will have to replace two important members of the 2007 infield. All-American Tony Thomas and shortstop Mark Hallberg leave behind big shoes to fill. Thomas, an All-American last year, hit .440 with 11 HRs. He led the team in both categories. Hallberg hit .360. Dennis Guinn will open at first base. In 2007, Guinn hit .286 with 43 RBIs. He's being counted on to put up some good power numbers this year. Freshman All-American Jason Stidham moves to second this year after playing third in 2007. Stidham hit .366 and made the All-ACC team. Transfer Tony Delmonico will take over at shortstop. He transferred from Tennessee after his father was fired as their head coach. Delmonico hit .325 with 9 HRs and 49 RBIs. Freshman Stuart Tapley will start at third with Stidham moving to second. Look for Tommy Oravetz and freshman Jack Posey to see duty as their DHs. Oravetz hit .297 in 10 starts last year.

OUTFIELD – The outfield will see some changes with the injury to Rye and with Mark Gilden and Brandon Reichert having departed. Gilden hit .362 in 30 starts last year. Reichert hit .311 as the Noles everyday starter. Part-time 2007 starter Ohmed Danesh will take over in left field. He hit .321 in 18 starts as a freshman in 2007. Freshman Tyler Holt will most likely take over in centerfield. Ruairi O'Connor will take over the right field duties until Rye returns. O'Connor hit .296 in 29 starts last year.

PITCHERS – The Seminoles suffered two significant losses to their weekend rotation with Brian Henry and Michael Hyde moving on to the pros. Henry was the 2007 ACC Pitcher of the Year after finishing with a 14-2 record and a 2.60 ERA. Hyde compiled a 10-2 mark with a 3.35 ERA. Ryan Strauss will be called upon to be the leader of the staff. Strauss finished 2007 with a 10-3 record and a 3.40 ERA in 16 starts. Bo O'Dell and transfer Elih Villanueva look to be the other two weekend starters. O'Dell was 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 5 starts in 2007. Villanueva had a 0.81 ERA in 89 innings of work at Miami Dade last year.

Matt Fairel and Jimmy Marshall will likely be the midweek starters. Fairel was 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA in 21 relief appearances. Marshall was also 2-0 and had a 1.39 ERA in 23 relief appearances. All-American Buster Posey returns as the starting catcher. Posey hit .382 and had a team leading 65 RBIs. Posey may also see some work as their closer.

OUTLOOK – The Seminoles have the hitters that could lead them to another ACC Atlantic division title this year. The key to their season, as is the case with most of the other top teams in the ACC, is how their new starters perform this year. Aside from Strauss, none have much experience in that role at the college level. Look for Villanueva to be the answer to their pitching needs. He may open as their Friday starter. When the postseason rolls around, we should see Florida State as one of the regional hosts.

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