GoJackets.com Baseball Preview - FSU

February 20th marks the beginning of the baseball season for Georgia Tech! It's time once again to take a look at the 2009 ACC race. North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech are the four teams we will look at in this year's previews. Today we will focus on the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Division: FSU.

February 20th marks the beginning of the baseball season for Georgia Tech! It's time once again to take a look at the 2009 ACC race. The preseason polls are out, and the ACC is well represented with 4 teams in the Top 25. North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech are the four teams we will look at in this year's previews. Today we will focus on the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Division: FSU.

When you look at the players that Florida State has to replace from last years 54-win team, it's easy to understand why some of the experts feel that they will have a down year. The Seminoles will have to replace Four position players who contributed 60 home runs and none of them hit lower than .332.

The most obvious loss for Florida State will be Player of the Year Buster Posey. Posey hit .463 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI. All three were team leading stats. In addition to losing Buster, they must also replace Dennis Guinn who hit .332 and was second on the team in home runs and RBI with 19 and 76 respectively. Shortstop Tony Delmonico hit .374 and contributed 69 RBI. Both ranked third on the team. The final loss is outfielder Jack Rye who hit .371 last season good for fourth on the team.

The Seminoles will have to replace 3 starters from last years pitching rotation. The 3 combined for 29 wins. Gone are Elih Villanueva, Ryan Strauss, and Matt Fairel. Villanueva finished the year with a 4.01 ERA and a 7-4 record. Strauss compiled a 10-1 record with a 4.31 ERA. Fairel led the staff with a 12-2 record and a 3.79 ERA.

The Seminoles are known for reloading rather than rebuilding and this year should be no exception. The ACC coaches have picked them to win the Atlantic Division and to finish second overall in the ACC.


POSITION PLAYERS

1B - Finding a replacement for power hitter Dennis Guinn didn't get off to a good start when heir apparent Kyle Long dropped out of school before he played a single game. The job now falls to transfer Mike Meschke. He'll be backed up by Buster Posey's younger brother Jack. Posey hit .281 last season. Stephen Cardullo has also been moved to first. Cardullo hit .387 last year in a limited role.

2B - Tommy Oravetz will take over at second with the returning starter Jason Stidham moving to short. Oravetz hit .361 last season.

SS - Jason Stidham takes over at short with Tony Delmonico moving on to the pros. Stidham compiled a .322 batting average and hit 11 home runs with 63 RBI last year. Stidham will move into the number 3 slot in the batting order.

3B - Freshman All-American Stuart Tapley (pictured above) returns as the starter after hitting .383 last year. He was second in hitting behind the departed Buster Posey.

LF - Mike McGee played two roles for the Seminoles last season. Besides starting in left field, he also saw action as a midweek starter in the rotation. McGee hit .344 as a starting outfielder.

CF - Leadoff hitter Tyler Holt returns as the starter in center field. Holt hit .324 last season.

RF - Ohmed Danesh looks to be the starter in right field replacing Jack Rye who's graduated. Danesh compiled a .284 average last year. Ruairi O'Conner may also see some playing time in right field. O'Conner hit .300 last year.

C - Transfer Rafael Lopez will have the biggest shoes to fill this season as he replaces last year's Player of the Year Buster Posey. Lopez transferred from Indian River Community College. He'll be backed up by Parker Brunnelle who hit .226 last season.

DH - Look for D'Vontrey Richardson to handle most of the DH duties. He may also play in the outfield. Richardson had recently been moved from QB to safety on the Seminole football team. Richardson didn't play last season in order to concentrate on football.

PITCHING ROTATION

The Seminoles will rely on their young starters to replace the departed Villanueva, Fairel, and Strauss. Sophomore Geoff Parker will be counted upon to be the ace of the staff. He finished his freshman year with a 6-2 record and a 4.50 ERA. Starting behind Parker in the rotation will be John Gast a sophomore who was hampered by injuries last season. The final member of the weekend rotation looks to be freshman Austin Wood. Wood was drafted by the Astros but chose to attend Florida State.

BULLPEN

The Seminoles will rely on two seniors and a few freshmen in their bullpen. Senior Jimmy Marshall looks to be the closer. Marshall was 6-2 with a 3.69 ERA in 38 appearances. He'll be joined by Bo O'Dell who compiled a 5-1 record and a 3.60 ERA in 21 appearances. Six of those appearances came as a starter. He could me used as a midweek starter. Mike McGee will be used as a midweek starter and also pitch some innings out of the bullpen. Look for freshmen Brian Bush and Sean Gilmartin to make significant contributions out of the bullpen.


OUTLOOK

Despite losing players like Posey, Guinn, Delmonico, Rye, Strauss, Villanueva, and Fairel, look for the Seminoles to challenge for the ACC title and to make another run at Omaha. They will depend on the 5 returning starters to repeat their performances from last season and the young starting rotation will have to live up to their reputations to make the Seminoles season one that the ACC coaches are predicting.


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