Florida State baseball has begun fall practice, and we checked in with head coach Mike Martin to see how his team is coming together after losing a number of key players and top signees to the MLB draft.
NoleNation: After the MLB signing deadline, you said you were having trouble sleeping thinking about all the holes you needed to fill. Are you feeling a bit more comfortable with things now?
Mike Martin: What you have to do is just move on. You can't dwell on the past. We had a number of outstanding arms that we had signed, but we also have an outstanding group of young men that are in here now. People are going to get opportunities that maybe would not have gotten opportunities this quick in their career, but we're excited for them to see where they go with it.
NN: You've got two pretty solid transfers in Marcus Davis and Brett Knief. How have they looked so far?
Martin: They've been very impressive. They're guys that -- of course, Knief has played in a Division-I program before -- but it's an opportunity for both of them. I think in the next couple of weeks we'll know more, but I've certainly been impressed with what I've seen so far.
NN: You've got a handful of big bats you'll need to replace, but you're also looking for a couple of guys to step in at the back end of the pen after Robert Benincasa left for the pros. Any early ideas of who can fill the void?
Martin: No, we've got two or three guys we're looking at. We know that Gage [Smith] can go into that role, but at the same time, Gage was so important to use being used in the middle. Your middle guy is one that enables the closer to pitch on a number of nights, and that was another reason that Benny had the success he did is Gage pitched so well to give him a chance.
NN: Another thing you talked about over the summer was how much a season of summer league ball can help some of the younger guys. Has anyone come back looking like they've taken a big step forward?
Martin: It's a little early to tell that because we haven't had a lot of practices to evaluate, but you see guys come back like [Luke] Weaver, who pitched in the Cape. Peter Miller pitched in the Cape. I've been pleased with the way they're approaching the art of pitching. When you go to a summer league, you learn a lot about yourself because you're playing against the best players in the country. It just does our guys so much good.
NN: How about physically? Have you been pleased with the shape the team is in as they've picked things back up this fall?
Martin: Oh yeah, guys know what the expectations are here and they've done a very good job of taking care of themselves. Now is the time to improve in that area because, of course, the fall is important when it comes to being evaluated, but it's even more important that you get in the weight room and use these four important months to get stronger and quicker.
NN: So as you go through fall practice over the next few weeks, what's the biggest thing you're looking for?
Martin: Mainly it's just implementing our system. We've got to get guys acclimated to what we're trying to do whether it's bunt, become better base runners or just learning how we play the game. You can call certain things fundamentals, but we'd rather refer to it as "our system." We've got some guys that are very, very far behind in learning the system and it's up to us to get that planted in their minds that, this is what we've got to do.