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Talking Pitching and Catching with Turtle

FIU baseball's Opening Day is less than a month away, 26 days if you're scoring at home, when theTt    Panthers host Jacksonville for a 3-game series to begin the 2009 season.

So here's the first of a three-part interview series with FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas (FIU photos, Alex J. Hernandez) about the upcoming season.

PP: How did fall ball go?

TTWe basically have 6 guys back that played as a position player or a pitcher for a significant amount of time last year. Those 6 are: Tyler Townsend, Ryan Mollica, Steven Stropp, Jorge Marban, Corey Polizzano and Danny DeSimone and Javi Sujo played some. He had like 82 at-bats. We have a lot of new pieces of the puzzle to the team. It was a lot of teaching and developing, a lot of starting to understand college baseball. They’re young and enthusiastic and they seem to learn pretty quick. There certainly is some talent out there on the baseball field. We just got to find the right lineup, the right positions for a couple of guys still battling at a couple of spots.

PP: Who are some of the pitchers that stood out during the fall?

Rem TT: Scott Rembisz (left) from Manatee junior college looks to be right now the Friday night starter. He was the Florida Junior College Pitcher of the Year with a 13-2 record last year. He’s a very good competitor. He’s not scared to throw inside, nice breaking ball. He beats the hitters, because he out competes them.

Tom Ebert, from Iowa Western, the year before at the JUCO World Series hurt his arm and had Tommy John so he really didn’t start pitching until later in the season last year. He is really good. I would think right now he could either be our closer or the Friday, Saturday or Sunday starter.


R.J. Fondon, the left-hander from Flanagan High in Pembroke Pines, made some good impressions on us in the fall and should be one of our 4 or 5 top starters. We didn't really have any lefties last season. We’ve got 4 lefties now. Fondon, Justin Leith (Naples and St. Louis Cardinals draft pick), Corey Polizzano, Mason McVay (Killian) and even Ty Main, an outfielder, can throw a few innings.


PP: With Ebert, possibly being the closer right now 1 month before the season starts, what kind of roleMarb do you envision for last year's closer Jorge Marban?


TT: I’m thinking he’s either the closer or set-up guy either one or the other. He’s going to continue to come out of the bullpen. He grew up a lot last year. Going into the 2007 fall, he was kind of a name on the roster that was going to battle, develop and fight for a spot and low and behold he came through and did a nice job for us.


PP: What does the catching situation look like?


Stropp TT: Steven Stropp is our starter. There are 3 other catchers we got. We got Doug Joyce from Stanwood, Washington. About an hour south of Canada . He was the 41st round pick of the Kansas City Royals. We got Casey Hanrahan from St. John’s River junior college, who was 10th in the state in hitting last year. Sean Reilly is from just outside Boston. They are all battling for that number two slot right now. I don’t know that anybody is really forged ahead of the other two at this point.


PP: Can any of these catchers possibly play other positions?


TTNot really, they are mainly catchers. Joyce, being a tall 6-3, could probably play a little first base and Stropp plays first base. All the catchers bats are developing, getting better and still figuring out the college game a little bit and 3-2 breaking balls and 3-2 change-ups. They’re still figuring out the college approach to pitching and have to become better at hitting different parts of the strike zone at different speeds and different types of pitches.



We'll take a look at the position players on the next post.



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Looking forward to baseball season! Thanks for the interview with Turtle.

Good Info Pete.

I have Casey Hanrahan for a few classes and he is a good kid. Really loves baseball. I hope he develops well and ends up starting.

Good interview with Tortuga...thanks as usual, Pete....

Ohh..forgot....Zachary Parks, another LHP, was included on FIU's roster on the Fall, and is no longer there....nor mentioned by Turtle...is he no longer part of the team/FIU?

Pete, thanks for that update. Can't wait for opening night!

Thanks for the TT interview. I'm expecting great things from FIU baseball this year!!! Pitching should improve this year.


Great info - thanks Pete for reporting on the #1 sport!

Turtle, please go over 500, win the games you're supposed to and steal a few that will surprise us.

No Lamar Guy, Ty Main Pitching, Junior Arrojo is not even listed as a returner. What is wrong with this picture? Oh and Javi Sujo from Sunset high actually had 140 at bats. Great interview!!!!!!!!!!!

I guess Gus loves 36 wins a year with a NCAA appearance every 6 years (mediocrity)unacceptable with the talent pool in Miami. I am glad we finally have a coach who is not intiminated by local talent. The only local players the old coaches got came out of JC because no other HS coaches in the area would send any player worth anything to him. Local HS coaches friends of mine said that DP never came around and they have seen and heard more from current FIU assistants this past year than they had from the old regime combined.

Get a clue Gus... Dont bring your non-intelligent, living in the past, negative attitude around here. The guy was off a little on the number of at-bats, but he said he was guessing. Not a big deal! How about focusing on things that really matter, which from the looks at it he seems to be doing pretty well. Especially in the classroom, which is really important, and the past wasnt doing much about.

If your bitter about your BF being fired, dont blame it on the new guy because its not his fault. He just applied for an open job, like many others did.

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