A way-too-early look at what's in store for FSU Baseball in 2018

Ryan S. Clark, Lead Beat Writer
Warchant

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As soon as Florida State was eliminated from the College World Series this week, there were already questions regarding next year's team.

Among those queries? What will the Seminoles look like next season? Who's staying? Who's leaving? Can the the team FSU fields in 2018 potentially make a return trip to Omaha?

Here's a way-too-early look at the roster Seminoles coach Mike Martin and his staff could have next year.

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Gene Williams/Warchant

How will the Seminoles' infield look without Busby, Henderson and Walls?

FSU's infield is going to be an area of concern for several reasons. Martin and his staff will have to find replacements for senior second baseman Matt Henderson along with junior third baseman Dylan Busby and shortstop Taylor Walls. Although Busby and Walls have a year of eligibility remaining, they were third-round picks in this month's MLB Draft and are not expected to return.

All three are big losses in their own right. Henderson started 63 of 68 games and played very well for the Seminoles over the final five weeks of the season. His .448 on-base percentage and 44 walks gave FSU a pest at the bottom of the order. Walls, who batted leadoff, was among the national leaders with 67 walks. He also batted .273 with eight home runs and 47 RBIs. Busby established himself as the team's most prolific slugger with a .315 average, a team-high 15 home runs and 82 RBIs.

That leaves the Seminoles with freshman infielder Drew Mendoza and sophomore catcher Cal Raleigh as the team's only returning infield starters from the CWS. Mendoza missed the team's first 26 games due to injury but accounted for 10 home runs and 33 RBIs over the final 43 games of the season. Raleigh, despite a regression from his freshman campaign, still was the Seminoles' everyday catcher. He hit .227 with nine home runs, 39 RBIs and was the only player to appear in all 69 games.

FSU does have some returning players who can help fill the gaps in the infield. While freshman Nick Derr played most of his games in the outfield, he was the No. 6 shortstop in the nation coming out of high school. He can also play second base if needed. The Seminoles also will return utility player Tyler Daughtry. He was also a shortstop in high school and made 11 of his 24 starts this season at third base before missing the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Mendoza, who played shortstop in high school, could feasibly play any infield position. As a freshman, he worked only at first and third base because the Seminoles had Walls and Henderson locking down the middle infield.

FSU also should be able to rely upon 2017 signees Cooper Swanson and Austin Pollack. Swanson, a one-time Vanderbilt commit, starred at shortstop for Fort Myers (Fla.) Canterbury, where he batted .420 with six home runs and 21 RBIs while leading the program to a Class 3A state title as a senior. Pollack, known more for his pitching, did play first base at Tallahassee Lincoln this season.

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