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November 3, 2012

Mike Martin wraps up fall baseball practice



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After the conclusion of fall practice, Florida State head coach Mike Martin sat down with Warchant.com and other members of the media to talk about where the team stands heading into the spring.

Mike Martin Opening comment: I think the first thing that popped in my mind as I sat down is that I don't remember a fall passing in which, I don't know who's going to play first, I don't know who's going to play second, I don't know who is going to play center, or left, I've got a pretty good idea on those positions. I do know who is going to play short, and I would think that (Jose) Brizuela has the inside track at third, and we know who's going to catch.

In right field we've got a very good player in Brett Knief, and we've got a very good player in Josh Delph. The only thing that I am very confident of, is that if they're healthy, (Brandon) Leibrandt and (Mike) Compton are going to be one and two. Don't know if Leibrandt is going to be one, or Compton's going to be one. They've both pitched very well this fall. Compton did have a little nagging elbow and that's why he didn't pitch (Monday against Ontartio). He's been rehabbing the last few days.

But I must admit I like an awful lot of what I saw. We've got competitive spots up for grabs, and that's good. Competition works for all of us. I know that's a cliché, but it certainly helps. For an example Josh Delph knows he can't mess around in right field or Brett Knief will take his job. Left field, D.J. Stewart hasn't played left field but a week. He's been centerfielder most of his career, and he could still very well go back to centerfield. With the senior Seth Miller fighting for that position that makes that good. But I see them playing, whether D.J. plays center and Seth plays left or as Yogi (Berra) would say 'Visa-Versa'. It's one of those situations that is good for us. Seth needs to play well to keep that spot, or D.J. will go and get it.

Who are some of the players you're looking at for the starting job at second base?

Martin: This is crazy, but I 've got four guys that are on my mind. Gio (Alfonzo)-not in this order-(Alvin) Swoope, John Sansone, and Smitty (Casey Smit). So we've got four guys that we know can play second base, so there's a lot of decision making. There might be some position changes when we begin in the spring. Don't anticipate going out there and taking the allotted two hours a week that we have with our guys now on working with somebody to play another position. That will be done in January I assure you.

I don't think I've been in this spot many years. There's a lot of to be decided. The other area of concern is 'Who's going to close?' We were spoiled last year guys. We all knew in the eight inning (Robert Benincasa) was down there. That other dugout knew he was down there and it shortened the game. We don't have that guy established yet. So we've got some decisions to make in that area.

You mentioned Leibrandt and Compton, what are some of the things you look for development-wise from a freshman to a sophomore year for starters?

MM: More consistency in every pitch. Leibrandt has got to come out with a better breaking ball. He was very effective with a fastball and a change up last year. He's got to be able to throw a curveball, because people will get up there and try to take a certain pitch looking for the other pitch because he's got two choices. But if he throws the curveball like (San Fransico Giants' pitcher Madsion Bumgarner), kept throwing curveball, changeup, fastball to location and he kept them off balance. He struck out eight or nine (in the World Series), because he was consistent with his curveball. That's what Leibrandt's got to do.

Compton has to develop a changeup. He's a fastball, curveball guy. He's got to develop a changeup. That's what I look for from one year to the next in a pitcher. Is get a little more consistent with the so-called 'key pitches' and really develop that third pitch.

What did you see out of the newcomers this fall?

MM: One of the best falls we've had in that respect. Guys like Knief, D.J. Stewart, Casey Smit-who is a walk-on, got him out of the walk-on program. Looked very good, in fact he was the leading candidate to play second base. That doesn't mean he's going to be there when we start, but he looked pretty darn good. Marcus Davis is a good-looking hitter. He's the young man who got hit in the Friday game, really made strides. If we started tomorrow Marcus Davis would be our DH. Good looking hitter.

Ladson Montgomery, I really liked what I saw out of him. A lot-not a little-A lot better hitter than I thought he was going to be. But a further away to go than I was anticipating as a catcher. He'll be the back-up to Stephen (McGee). Good group. Seem to have good chemistry. Anxious to see what the future holds.

How did John Nogowski look at first base?

MM: I think your question in what do you expect from a freshman to a sophomore applies to John. John has seemed to grow up. He understands a little bit more. Very impressed with him. Still not hitting the way I feel he's capable. He puts the ball in the air a little too much. He's really done a good job with his body. He's gotten leaner, and he's improved defensively. His range has improved. John Nogowski will play an awful lot of baseball for Florida State. Whether he starts or not.

Who are some of other pitchers who will play a big role on the staff this season?

MM: We don't know who the third starter is going to be. If you told me I had to give you one right now I'd say Scott Sitz. But (Luke) Weaver, (Bryant) Holtmann, Robby Coles pitched pretty darn good. Gage (Smith) gives you that good feeling of experience and savvy. So we need to get Peter Miller-Peter Miller could be a big, big part of this club. Quick, very good fielding pitcher. Has matured greatly. Throws in the low 90s. Peter Miller is being looked at in a number of areas. Middle, short, and as a starter. It's up to him to see where he figures in.

I thought Brandon Johnson was impressive in the fall. He threw pretty darn good. We've got some decisions to make in the middle and at closer.



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