Jackson Baumeister grew accustomed to seeing major-league scouts in attendance anytime left-handed pitchers Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart took the mound last season. Messick and Hubbart were two of the top pitchers in college baseball and watching how they handled the MLB draft attention helped Baumeister.
In last year’s draft, Messick and Hubbart went in the second and third rounds, respectively. This season, Baumeister is a draft-eligible sophomore and a potential top-two-round pick in the 2023 draft.
This year’s draft cycle marks the second time Baumeister has experienced the draft process. Scouts considered him a likely early-round pick in the 2021 draft, but the right-handed pitcher was one of the top-rated prep players to make it to college.
Baumeister grew up a Florida State fan, and the decision to honor his commitment has paid off. He has refined his skills while enhancing his value for the draft.
“Knowing what to expect into another draft year will be helpful,” Baumeister said. “I won’t feel nervous when talking to scouts or in meetings. The connection I made with a lot of the regional and area scouts is helpful because a lot of them now are calling to check in to see how I’m doing and how the family is doing. Going through the process already once makes it a lot easier.”
Baumeister is a 6-foot-4, 226-pound right-handed pitcher who throws a four-seam fastball, 12-6 curveball, slider and changeup from a quick and compact arm action and repeatable delivery.
The righty primarily relies on his fastball and curveball. He sits 92-94 mph and touches the mid-90s with his fastball. He likes to work in the top of the strike zone with his fastball, which features some vertical movement, and generates swings and misses with the pitch.
Baumeister’s curveball is his go-to breaking pitch. It is an above-average offering that he has a lot of confidence in, and he uses it as a put-away pitch.
“My biggest strength is the mentality I bring to the mound,” Baumeister said. “When I walk onto the mound, I feel like I am the best in the country. That mindset and mentality going into a game is something every pitcher needs to have. If you are up there second-guessing yourself or not as confident as you could be, you will not be successful. Having that mentality and composure is what separates me from everyone else.”
In the offseason, Baumeister worked on his slider and changeup. He added the slider while pitching in the Cape Cod League during the summer. The slider flashes potential and has improved during the fall season, showing a sharper break.
Baumeister altered his changeup grip leading up to his sophomore year. He used to throw a circle changeup, but now the grip is more of a four-seam changeup grip, he said. He has worked on developing consistency with the new grip and staying on top of the pitch so it has plenty of downward movement.
The slider and changeup will be important pitches for Baumeister as he figures to move into the starting rotation. Last season, he mostly pitched out of the bullpen, posting a 5.60 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 20 walks in 27 1/3 innings.
Baumeister will likely be one of Florida State’s top starting pitchers this spring.
“There were some growing pains last year,” Baumeister said. “I didn’t have the year I wanted to have. Coming off that, I just got my feet wet and am more comfortable now against college hitters. I know what to expect. Three solid pitches with an emerging fourth one will be a plus and allow me to dominate this spring.”
Baumeister and right-hander Carson Montgomery are two of Florida State’s top returning pitchers this season and potential early-round picks in the draft. Both will play a key role in the Seminoles’ success under new coach Link Jarrett, who led Notre Dame to the College World Series last season.
The Seminoles have made the NCAA Tournament 44 straight times, which ties the NCAA record for consecutive appearances with Miami, who accomplished the feat from 1973-2016.
Despite the Seminoles success in qualifying for the tournament, they have never won a national championship. The Seminoles finished as the runner-up in 1970, 1986 and 1999. They last qualified for the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2019.
Baumeister raves about the new coaching staff and believes “the sky is the limit” with Jarrett in charge.
“I just want to win,” Baumeister said. “This is a really great team with a good, young core. We also have some great returners. We have all the pieces to make it all the way. I think my biggest goal for me is to win the ACC and, if not the whole thing, the national championship.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.