January 21, 2000 - by
2000 FSU Baseball Preview

Jan. 21, 2000

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Twenty-two consecutive NCAA Regional appearances.

Ten top 10 finishes in the last 11 seasons.

Eighteen 50-win seasons.

Ten College World Series trips over the last 13 years.

The success of Florida State’s baseball program during the Mike
Martin era speaks for itself. After coming up one run short in the
championship game at the College World Series in 1999, this year’s
version of the FSU baseball team is eager to take another shot at the
title and make a return to trip to the familiar grounds of Rosenblatt

Although second baseman Marshall McDougall returns after a
junior season that ranks as one of the finest in school history, the
strength of the 2000 Seminoles will be the pitching staff. Junior Jon
McDonald and Sophomore Blair Varnes have been named to several preseason
All-America teams and will anchor the first two starting spots in the
rotation. Several new arms have impressed the coaching staff in fall
practice and should help fill the void left by graduating seniors Chris
Chavez and Zach Diaz and first round draft pick Nick Stocks.

Coach Martin welcomes back two of the top starting pitchers in
the country in junior Jon McDonald and sophomore Blair Varnes. McDonald
was 9-3 last season with a 3.57 ERA and is a Collegiate Baseball
preseason first team All-American. Varnes, named Freshman Player of the
Year by Collegiate Baseball and a third team preseason All-American,
will be the No. 2 starter. Varnes was 11-2 in 1999 and is best known
for his courageous effort in the national championship game when he
started on the mound despite a ruptured ACL.

“The story of this year’s club is pitching,” said Martin. “I’ve
been impressed with how the staff has thrown so far. We’ve got to put a
premium on pitching and understand that this club is not going to put up
the same numbers offensively as we did last year.”

Junior Mike Ziegler leads a trio of Seminoles battling for the
job as the third starter. Ziegler is a two-time junior college
All-American who spent last season at Tallahassee Community College and
ran up a 15-2 record with a 1.42 ERA. John Bentley, who was 7-2 with a
2.96 ERA in 1998, returns to action after sitting out the 1999 season
while fully recovering from a shoulder injury. BentleyFreshman Matt
Lynch has thrown well during fall practice and is expected to see plenty
of innings.

“We feel good about Jon McDonald and Blair Varnes as the first
two starters,” said Martin. “That third spot will be a battle between
Zeigler, Bentley and Lynch. All three of them are quality guys and will
pitch a lot either way.”

Chris Ginn returns in middle relief after a strong 1999 season
in which he was 5-0 in 26 appearances and led the team with a 1.31 ERA.
Freshman Daniel Hodges will also be used in the middle innings after
impressing the coaching staff during fall practice.

Mike DiBlasi is back for his senior year after leading the ACC
with nine saves last season. He will be used in both middle relief and
as a lefthanded stopper in the late innings. Righthander Chris Whidden
had a strong freshman season and will team with DiBlasi as the team’s
closers. Coach Martin might also experiment with outfielder Karl
Jernigan in a closing role.

Chris Smith, who was a part-time starter in the outfield in
1999, will see more action as a pitcher this year. Others expected to
contribute on the mound are Eric Roman, Robby Read and Nick Whidden.

“One of the keys to this ballclub is replacing Zach Diaz and
Chris Chavez,” said Martin. “Those two were able to go out anytime our
starter struggled and keep us in a ballgame. I’ve been impressed with
these guys ability to do that.”

Behind the Plate
Although Jeremiah Klosterman hit just .298 with five home runs
last season, his leadership and presence behind the plate were a big
reason for FSU’s success. Sophomore Chris Hart will be pushed by junior
college transfer Blair McCaleb for the starting job. Hart saw time last
year spelling Klosterman at catcher and also as a designated hitter.
Cory Posey, a senior who joined the team in January after spending two
years of junior college baseball and one year at McNeese State, could
play catcher or be used as a designated hitter. Mike Futrell, who
caught in high school, could see time here as well. Futrell was a
part-time starter in the outfield last season and had an impressive
season at the plate, hitting .363.

“Chris Hart has done a good job behind the plate,” said Martin.
“Jeremiah’s leadership was so evident last season. We need someone to
step in and handle the pitching staff the way he did.”

Around the Infield
The middle infield will be strong with Brett Groves back to
start his third year at shortstop and All-American Marshall McDougall
returning at second base. Sophomore Bobby Spano, who could also play
third base and shortstop, will back up McDougall at second base while
freshman Brian Kraft is the No. 2 shortstop.

“There’s not much more you can say about the season Marshall had
for us last year,” said Martin. “He and Brett also give you one of the
best double play duos we’ve ever had.”

McDougall stole 22 bases and Groves took 29 to lead the team.
Those numbers should increase as Martin plans to increase run production
by stealing more bases and utilizing the hit-and-run more often.

“It remains to be seen if Marshall will hit second or third in
the order,” said Martin. “I like him hitting second. We need a good
consistent leadoff guy and hopefully Brett or Karl Jernigan will be the
answer there.”

At third base, junior college transfer Pichi Balet appears to
have the inside track on the starting job. Pushing Balet will be
newcomer Scott Boyd, who moved over from first base following fall
practice. Boyd also has a chance to get into the lineup as a designated

Sophomore Ryan Barthelemy will start at first base for the
Seminoles to open the season. Barthelemy took over toward the end of
the 1999 season and started during FSU’s postseason run. John Halliday,
who started 56 games at first base and designated hitter, has been
hampered by injuries and his status is uncertain for the early part of
the year. When he returns, Halliday will likely take over as the
designated hitter. Freshman Justin McClain could also see some time at
first behind Barthelemy.

In the Outfield
Coach Martin could do some shuffling here with four quality
players returning from a year ago. The Seminoles will have to fill a
huge void in right field with Matt Diaz signing with Tampa Bay. Diaz
hit .379 and was second to McDougall with 21 home runs and 94 RBI.

Sophomore John-Ford Griffin, who recorded a team-best batting
average of .436 in his rookie season, will move over to right field as
the full-time starter. Futrell will open in left field, where he split
time with Griffin last year.

In center, Karl Jernigan looks to bounce back after going
through a bit of a sophomore slump at the plate. Jernigan, who could
lead off, boasts exceptional speed and is the best defensive player in
the FSU outfield.

Sophomore Chris Smith split starting duties with Jernigan in
center in 1999 and will see action in both left field and center field
as well as on the mound this season.

Clint Thigpen will push for playing time in the outfield along
with freshman Ryan West, who opened practice at third base, but has
since moved to the outfield. West could also see time at designated
hitter from the left side.

The Season Ahead
FSU’s 2000 schedule will again rank as one of the most difficult
in the country. In addition to ACC competition, the Seminoles will
travel to Arizona State, Florida and Miami for non-conference road
games. Stanford, the top ranked team in the country in most preseason
publications, will visit Tallahassee in February.

“The schedule is going to be even tougher than last year’s that
was No. 1 according to the RPI,” said Martin. “The addition of
Stanford, playing Arizona State on the road and bringing a pretty good
Pittsburgh team here has upgraded the schedule. Clemson is going to be
one of the teams to beat when we go into ACC play, they have a lot of
guys back from a team that just missed going to the College World

With an emphasis on pitching and defense, the 2000 Florida State
baseball team will look more like Seminole squads of the past. The
early schedule against some of the best teams in the country will help
prepare the Tribe for the postseason.

“In order to manufacture runs this season, we will try to
utilize our speed more this season by stealing bases and calling more
hit and runs,” said Martin. “Last year was one of the few years at FSU
that we had fewer than 100 stolen bases. That was due to the potential
of our lineup for the big inning.”


DayDateOpponentSiteTime (TV)
Fri.28Western KentuckyTallahassee3:30 (Sunshine)
Sat.29Western KentuckyTallahassee3:30
Sun.30Western KentuckyTallahassee1:00
Fri.4Arizona StateTempe, AZ7:00 (FOX)
Sat.5Arizona StateTempe, AZ1:00 (FOX)
Sun.6Arizona StateTempe, AZ1:00
Sat.19FloridaGainesville2:00 (Sunshine)
Tues.22Appalachian St.Tallahassee3:30
Wed.23Appalachian St.Tallahassee3:30
Sat.26FloridaTallahassee2:00 (Sunshine)
Tue.29Charleston SouthernTallahassee3:30
Wed.1Charleston SouthernTallahassee3:30
Tues.7St. Joseph’sDaytona Beach7:00
Wed.8SienaDaytona Beach1:00
Fri.10DukeTallahassee 6:00
Sun.12DukeTallahassee1:00 (Sunshine)
Tues.14South FloridaTallahassee6:00
Fri.17Wake ForestWinston-Salem, NC 3:00
Sat.18Wake ForestWinston-Salem, NC1:30 (Sunshine)
Sun.19Wake ForestWinston-Salem, NC1:30
Sat.25MarylandTallahassee1:00 (Sunshine)
Sat.1VirginiaCharlottesville, VA1:00 (ACC Gm. of Wk.)
Sun.2VirginiaCharlottesville, VA12:00 (DH)
Wed.5JacksonvilleJacksonville 7:00 (Sunshine)
Sun.9MiamiTallahassee1:00 (Sunshine)
Fri.14MiamiMiami7:00 (SportsChannel-Tape
Sat.15MiamiMiami7:00 (SportsChannel Delay)
Fri.21Georgia TechTallahassee 7:00
Sat.22Georgia TechTallahassee 7:00 (Sunshine)
Sun.23Georgia TechTallahassee 1:00 (Sunshine)
Fri.28NC StateTallahassee7:00
Sat.29NC StateTallahassee7:00
Sun.30NC StateTallahassee1:00 (Sunshine)
Sat.6ClemsonClemson, SC7:00
Sun.7ClemsonClemson, SC7:00
Mon.8ClemsonClemson, SC7:00
Sat.13North CarolinaChapel Hill, NC1:00/DH (ACC Gm. of Wk.)
Sun.14North CarolinaChapel Hill, NC1:30
Tues.-Sun.16-21ACC TournamentFort Mill, SCTBA
Fri.-Sun.26-28NCAA RegionalTBATBA
Fri.-Sun.2-4NCAA Super RegionalTBATBA
Fri.-Sat.9-17College World SeriesOmaha, NETBA


No.NamePos.L-RHt.Wt.Yr.Hometown (High School or JC)
1Brett GrovesSSR-R5-11180JRTampa, FL (Tampa Bay Tech)
2Bobby Spano2BS-R5-11175SONaples, FL (Barron Collier HS)
4John BentleyPR-R6-0180*JRTallahassee, FL (N. Florida Christian HS)
5Brian KraftSSR-R6-1185FRGainesville, FL (Oak Hall HS)
7Daniel HodgesPL-L5-11180FRHilliard, FL (Bishop Kenny HS)
8Michael FutrellOFR-R6-0180SOTallahassee, FL (Lincoln HS)
9Karl JerniganOF/PR-R6-2195JRMilton, FL (Milton HS)
10Chris HartCS-R6-1180SOClearwater, FL (Clearwater HS)
13Nick WhiddenPR-R6-0185*FRTallahassee, FL (Leon HS)
14Clint ThigpenOFR-R6-1195*FRLakeland, FL (Lakeland HS)
15Chris SmithOF/PL-L6-1190SOWantagh, NY (Wantagh HS)
16Cory PoseyCR-R6-4215SRPanama City, FL (Gulf Coast CC/McNeese St.)
17Chris WhiddenPR-R5-11165SOTallahassee, FL (Leon HS)
18Pichi Balet3BR-R6-0205JRW. Palm Beach, FL (Tallahassee CC)
19Ryan WestOFL-R6-2195FRTallahassee, FL (Lincoln HS)
20Robby ReadPR-R6-1175FRTallahassee, FL (Leon HS)
21Blair VarnesPR-R6-2195*SOPascagoula, MS (Pascagoula HS)
22Justin McClain1BR-R6-2195FRCartersville, GA (Cartersville HS)
24Eric RomanPR-R6-2160*FROrlando, FL (Dr. Phillips HS)
26Scott Boyd3BR-R6-1210JRPensacola, FL (Jefferson Davis CC)
27Ryan Barthelemy1BL-R6-3225SOMiami, FL (Killian HS)
29Mike DiBlasiPL-L6-2199SRClearwater, FL (Countryside HS))
31Marshall McDougall2BR-R6-1200SRValrico, FL (Santa Fe CC)
32Blair McCalebCR-R6-0210SOMarietta, GA (Pensacola JC)
33John Halliday1BL-L6-5235SRClearwater, FL (Pasco-Hernando CC)
35Mike ZieglerPR-R6-3225JRGlen Burnie, MD (Tallahassee CC)
37Chris GinnPL-L6-3215JRTallahassee, FL (Lincoln HS)
39John-Ford GriffinOFL-L6-2185SOSarasota, FL (Sarasota HS)
41Jon McDonaldPR-R6-3200*JROrlando, FL (Edgewater HS)
46Matt LynchPL-L6-1190FRFt. Pierce, FL (John Carroll HS)


11Mike Martin, Head Coach
3Chip Baker, Assistant Coach (Third Base/Catchers)
12Jamey Shouppe, Assistant Coach (Pitching/Recruiting)
28Mike Martin, Jr., Volunteer Assistant Coach (First Base)
Jose Zabala, Equipment Coordinator/Clubhouse Manager
Kevin Fitzgerald, Strength & Conditioning Coach
Duane Brooks, Head Baseball Trainer
Antwan Smith, Video Coordinator
Tom Bernier, Head Student Manager
Clint Vaughn, Manager
Scott Laakso, Manager
Mario Trevino, Manager (Video)
Mike Chevalier, Manager (Bullpen)
Brian Coates, Manager (Bullpen)

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